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Kaaberbol, Lene
The Shamer's Daughter
7-9
Fantasy
Secrets. Everyone has them...things that they don't want anyone to know; things that they even hide from themselves; things to be ashamed of. The Shamer’s eyes can draw these dark things to the light of day, exposing the truth. Dina has inherited her mother’s gift; a gift that feels more like a curse. Her mother is called to the palace to help unearth the truth about a grisly triple murder in the royal family but, when she doesn’t return the following day, Dina is forced to deal with this gift to save her mother, herself and her kingdom.
Wouldn’t it be great to have one of these Shamers in the real world? No more need for lawyers, courts, or judges and truth would prevail always. Ah well, someone would figure out a way to exploit her, just as they did in the book. Anyone who is a fan of political intrigue or fantasy would certainly enjoy this series!


Kate, Lauren

Fallen

Flame, then fear, then death. Luce lost a boy she barely knew but wanted to know. She survived but soon, letters came; strangers driving by shouting curses and other things. The school did not want her. The police did not believe her. So she stood at the gates of Sword & Cross boarding school deep in Savannah's oak and moss laden land. Then she saw him. Daniel Grigori. He seemed familiar and Luce was immediately drawn him, like light draws dark. But Daniel wants nothing to do with her, goes out of his way to avoid her. Still, she can't let it go but what will be the consequences; life or death; darkness or light?

Similarities to Twilight abound but instead of vampires and demons and wizards (oh my) we have something else, entirely. The mythology is well researched and only occasionally calls for suspension of disbelief. Luce is a little whiny (um...Bella?) but she and Daniel take star-crossed lovers to the next level. Unanswered questions abound and beg for a sequel, for which there is a teaser at the end of the book. This would be an excellent suggestion for Twilight fans.

The melodrama continues in Torment, the sequel to Fallen, ending in the typically frustrating cliff-hanger! My only gripe about these kinds of books is that the female lead always seems so...wimpy. She and Bella just let things happen to them; there's no fight in either and even when they do get their dander up, they're useless or just get in the way. Ah well, I guess there's a market for this kind of entertainment...even I read it all the way through.

Kent, Deborah
Why me?
7-9
Contemporary
Chloe seems to be the average teenager most of the time but underneath she is suffering from something she calls the superbug. It just won’t go away. First it was headaches, stiffness in her joints and fever. Her doctor and parents chalk it up to stress… dad losing his job, mom having to work more hours, school, a new boy in her life. Just take it easy, everyone says but no matter how much sleep she gets, she awakes exhausted and weak. Todd, a boy she likes seems to really like her and they sit outside during their study hall one march afternoon. After only 45 minutes, she has strange sunburn on her arms and face. The next time she faints, her mother speaks to the doctor and mentions the sunburn/rash which is in the shape of a butterfly. Everything changes for Chloe in seconds. She is taken to the hospital for tests which reveal that she has Lupus. How will her friends handle the news? What about Todd…how could he possibly stay interested in a girl who’s chronically sick? The real question, though, is how will Chloe handle the changes? Will she let it defeat or define her or will she fight it?
This is a very good story about a girl coming to term with a disease she’ll have to live with the rest of her life. Kent handles the different situations that naturally arise in families dealing with chronic disease with sensitivity. The characters are mostly believable and the story ends on a positive note though not all of the ends are tied up. The book leaves room at the end for some interesting discussion on experimental treatments and whether or not students agree with Chloe’s decision or not.
Subjects covered: chronic illness, peer relationships, family relationships, coping skills, experimental treatments

Kephart, Beth
Dangerous Neighbors
Twins Katherine and Anna have been inseparable since birth, their bond growing stronger each year. Then they become teenagers and, suddenly something comes between them. Handsome Bennett, the baker's son, is an unsuitable match for high-born Anna but she's in the throes of love and nothing else matters. She enlists Katherine to cover for them but Katherine is jealous of Bennett. She realizes that she's far more dependent upon Anna than Anna is on her. One winter day, the girls go skating. At first, it's just like old times, just the two of them. When Bennett appears, however, Anna's focus is completely on him. Then tragedy strikes and Katherine is left alone with her guilt and anger. It takes another near tragedy to save Katherine from her grief and open her eyes to other possibilities.

Kephart captures the pain, anger, fear and loneliness of Katherine's plight perfectly. The backdrop of the Philadelphia Centennial Fair of 1876 adds charm and whimsy to the often sad story. Katherine and Anna's story unfolds mostly through flashbacks, which can get a little confusing to follow. Strong readers who enjoy historical fiction, however, will enjoy this coming-of-age story with a bit of romance for spice.

Kessler, Jackie Morse
Hunger
Four horsemen: Death, Pestilence, War and Famine. They wreak havoc upon the earth and in Lisabeth's life. Lisabeth is drowning in anorexia and depression. Her "Thin" voice berates her and constantly reminds her of how many calories any food she thinks about eating. Her best friend and boyfriend are worried and confront her so she leave them for Tammy, a bulimic who seems to have control of her life and her body. One particularly bad night, Lisabeth takes several of her mother's anti-depressants, intent on taking the whole bottle when the doorbell rings. A young man bearing a striking resemblance to Kurt Cobain stands there holding out a set of old-fashioned scales and says, "Thou art Famine". He is Death and he gives her a choice; ride as Famine or finish the bottle of pills and die. Each day she rides out on her black horse that no one else can see and witnesses the ravaging effects of famine on the earth's people. What she sees makes her sick, her Thin voice whispering in her ear how powerless she is to do anything about it. Finally, she fights back and the voice, like a bully confronted, balks at her new-found courage. She raises her head and straightens her shoulders, ignoring the hunger inside. Maybe, just maybe she can fight back against the demons inside her. But she can't do it alone. Asking for help will require her to summon more courage than anything she's faced yet, even death.

This was the most interesting and unique way to present an eating disorder. The effects of the disease on the person suffering from it and those who love them is devastating. The author has intimate knowledge on the subject, as she explains in the author's note. There is hope in this dark tale but to get there, the reader is taken along on the downward spiral that is anorexia. It's not a pleasant ride and the story gets very graphic in places so is not for younger readers. Still, as a cautionary tale, it's worth the read...just make sure to read something funny or happy afterward!


Ketchum, Liza

Newsgirl

San Francisco in 1851 is a wild, exciting place. Amelia, her mother and Estelle arrive, hoping to start a new life in a place where women lead very different lives than back east. The trip was long and expensive and the small family arrives penniless. Amelia quickly discovers that newsboys make a small fortune selling newspapers. However, they do not allow girls in their gang. Not deterred, Amelia chops off her beautiful curls and disguises herself as a boy, to help make ends meet. There is great freedom, as a boy. She travels through the city, selling papers, even trying her hand at reporting news stories. It is this freedom, though, that gets her into trouble. She finds herself trapped in a runaway balloon which ends abruptly nearly 60 miles away, in the gold fields. Suddenly, she is faced with more adventure than she ever wanted and vows that, if she ever makes it back home, she will do everything she can to make people see that there is room enough for a newsgirl.

This was a great adventure story with a spunky female protagonist. The action seems to all take place in an amazginly short time and all to the same girl but, aside from these issues, it's a delightful romp through San Francisco's wild-west days. The characters, for the most part are fictional but several pop up that are based on real people. The author includes a very interesting note at the end explaining what events and people are real. Give this one to those who liked The Jacky Faber series or The Mis Adventures of Maude March.

Kittredge, Caitlin
The Iron Thorn
ironthorn.jpgI am Aoife Grayson and I live in the city of Lovecraft, a place where science rules and God does not exist. Heretics are those who believe in fairy tales, imagination, ghosts or any other idea deemed fanciful. I try my best to keep my head down and out of the sight line of the Proctors, who rule with an iron fist. It's hard to do, though, with my birthday just around the corner. You see, something horrible happens to members of my family when they turn 16...we go crazy. It's the necrovirus that has infected our world and causes those infected to go insane or to turn into horrific creatures that walk the night feeding on those unfortunate enough to be caught. But there's something else going on. Something secret. I received a note from my brother, the latest victim of my family. He told me to find the witch's alphabet in order to save myself. That means I have to find my father's house. My father, who has never spoken to me or even acknowledged that I exist. So I'm off with my best (really, my only) friend Cal to find my destiny.

Kittredge has crafted a riveting steampunk novel full of the machines and magic that keep the pages turning at warp speed. Iron Thorn is her first but certainly not her last young adult novel. Her characters reflect her fascination with history and horror movies. She throws in lots of twists and surprises, which serve to keep the momentum moving toward...something. The ending is left open, hopefully a harbinger of sequels to come! Fans of fantasy, science fiction and, most importantly, steampunk need to read this one! BTW...the cover is really, really cool!



Kizer, Amber
Meridian
Imagine every waking moment of your life animals die all around you. You find them in your room, at school, everywhere. Eventually, people start calling you the angel of death and you believe it. Meridian has lived this way all of her life. She can't imagine her life getting worse. On her 16th birthday, however, it does. As she steps off the bus, a car speeds up,heading directly for her. She just manages to get out of the way but other teenagers aren't as lucky. Suddenly, she is consumed by unimaginable pain, as though she'd been hit. Meridian isn't given time to fully recover from this when her parents pack her off to her great aunt's house in Colorado, saying that she is in grave danger and so is her family. Once in Colorado, she learns the secret that her mother was so desperate to keep. She is a Fenestra, a window between the living and the dead and, if she is to survive, she must learn not only to control her gift but to fully accept it. She must learn how to help people die. There is a balance to be maintained and she is an important part of it. Her job is a dangerous one and not just because the spirit she helps can pull her through with them but because the Nocti, those who take souls to hell, want her and her kind dead.

This a creepy story in the vein of supernatural beings mingling their blood with humans to create a whole other species. As long as you don't mind your religion being served up like scrambled eggs at a diner, it's an interesting story about the eternal battle between good and evil.

Kladstrup, Kristin
The Book of Story Beginnings
7-9
Fantasy, Adventure
Lucy Martin is not happy at all about moving to her family’s farmhouse in Iowa. Her parents aren’t either, as evidenced by their constant bickering. The only interesting bit is the mystery of a long lost uncle and the eccentric aunt who believed in magic and alchemy. Nearly a century earlier, Oscar Martin, then fourteen, disappeared and was never heard from again. His younger sister, Lavonne, claimed that she’d seen him float away on an ocean in a rowboat…in the middle of Iowa! Lucy is further intrigued when she finds Oscar’s journals and begins reading them, hoping to find a clue as to what happened to him. There is also a rowboat in the shed, which is strange since there’s no pond or river nearby. Hidden in the ceiling above the boat, Lucy finds an old leather-bound book called the book of story beginnings. She opens it and finds a warning “Beware, you writers who write within; Be mindful of stories that you begin;” It’s rather ominous but she read the many stories that were begun in the book until she gets to one that strikes a chord. It was about a boy who lived in a farmhouse on a hill but dreamed that he lived surrounded by the sea and could go sailing on adventures. But if this was Oscar’s story, could the story that Lavonne told have been true? If so, what kind of power did the book have? What would happen if she wrote a story?
This is an amazing story. The characters are very well developed and completely believable. It’s an original idea, which shows the power of a story. The plight of each character is realistically and sympathetically portrayed, especially Oscar’s loss of his entire family.

Klass, David
Dark Angel
8 & up
Contemporary, Suspense
Is evil real? Can you touch it? Can you kill it? Seventeen-year-old Jeff is about to find out. His brother, Troy, was convicted of murdering a kid six years ago and was sentenced to life in prison. Or so everyone thought. His conviction was overturned because of a technicality; he is coming home. Jeff does not want him there but his parents are determined to give Troy a chance. At first, Troy seems to be working hard to change things around for himself. And even Jeff begins to reach out to his brother. But then a teammate of Jeff's goes missing and Jeff is sure that Troy is involved. What happens next, however, no one is prepared for and Jeff if left to pick up the pieces.
Another brilliant tale from David Klass, master storyteller. He delivers a riveting account of one family's experience with evil in a non-threatening way and even manages occasional sparks of humor. Though the story could have been yesterday's headline, it doesn't read like an after school special. It's chilling, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking.

Klass, David
Home of the Braves
8 & up
Contemporary, Suspense
As Joe heads into his senior year of high school, looking forward to continuing his comfortable existence. He is the captain of a fun-loving but not very good soccer team. He begins to notice that Kris, the girl he's known forever, is very pretty and flirting with him. Then, with the arrival of a world class soccer player from Brazil, his world is shaken to it's very core and Joe is not sure what to do about it. The Brazilian joins the soccer team and, for the first time in Joe's high school career, they begin to win games and have fans. He should be happy but when he spots Kris hanging out with the Brazilian, he watches his chance to date her go down the drain Another of Joe's friends, Ed the Mouse, begins to act really strangely after being bullied by football players. He has no one to talk to about the changes in his life and he feels like things are spiraling out of control.

Klass has written another excellent novel about contemporary teens dealing with the issues top most in the lives of most American teenagers. The characters are well defined and the reader is drawn into their lives so effectively that as unfortunate situations arise, you feel the frustration, anger, sadness or confusion of the characters. There are only a few distractions in the story. The prologue leads you to believe that there may be ghosts in the story but it's never really resolved. Also, there is some street language that some might object to but it's not gratuitous. They fit the situations in which they occur. As with many of his other books, I highly recommend this one to 7th grade and above.


Klass, David
You Don't Know Me
8 & up
Contemporary, Suspense
“You don’t know me at all. You don’t know where I’m writing this from. You have no power over me.” These words are the beginning of an intriguing book about a young man who is dealing with a horrible home situation along with the everyday pains of growing up. He speaks as if he is conversing directly with someone…the reader, his mother, his stepfather??
John is a 14-year-old boy who lives much of his life in his own head. It’s the only safe place to which he can retreat when things in his life get to be too much to handle. Nothing is as it seems. John’s reality is, to the rest of the world, fantasy. His tuba, for instance is not a tuba. It is a giant frog, which pretends to be a tuba. It is not a tuba “because it has never produced a musical sound.” His explanations as to why things are not what they seem to be are insightful and, often, humorous. John deals with his first crush, a date with this crush and then is crushed by her. No one, not even his friends, notice that things are not well with him at home. His teachers, except for the band teacher who comes through in the end, are oblivious to his troubles.
David Klass handles the tough situations of child abuse with humor and sensitivity. As the reader, you come away relating to or remembering what it's like to be a teenager and you gain a very real sense of what it’s like to walk in John’s shoes. This is an excellent story and should not be missed simply because of the subject matter. It is definitely not a "movie-of-the-week" type of story. Klass’ use of second person storytelling gives you a sense of really being in the book, a part of the story, like you are John’s confidant. This is another of my favorite books and i highly recommend this one!


Klause, Annette Curtis
Freaks: Alive on the Inside
7-9
Historical, Adventure
In a place where everyone around you is different, a normal boy just doesn't fit in. Abel is a teenager who lives in Faeryland where his parents are among the many oddities who perform there. His father has no legs and his mother has no arms. His first kiss was from Phoebe the Dog-faced girl but he would very much like to kiss a girl and not get hair up his nose. To make matters worse, he has no act...no special skill...no special deformity. He was simply normal. He decides to go out into the world and seek his own fortune. The world, however, isn't all it's cracked up to be. He joins a circus, thinking that it would be like home but when his young friend, Apollo (Puppy boy), appears their attitude toward both of them is cruel and judgmental. They are then "taken in" by another traveling freak show, run by a frightening and cruel man called Dr. Mink. The only good thing is that Abel's dreams are haunted by a beautiful dancing woman, who turns out to be the strangest thing of all is a life full of weirdness.
This book has everything...adventure, history, romance and fantasy woven together with a bit of humor around the edges. There are a myriad of characters that are sometimes difficult to keep up with and the Egyptian dancer thread felt contrived. Still, it was a grand adventure and an interesting study of human nature. The author's note in the back gave historical information and which characters are based on real people.

Klise, Kate
Deliver Us From Normal
6-8
Contemporary
If you live in a town called Normal, one would expect that the townsfolk would be, well, normal. Charles Harrisong’s family is anything but normal. They stand out too much. First of all, they live in a mustard colored brick house, which they rent. They shopped at Bargain Bonanza, with its corny western theme and where shopping is an ordeal for the five Harrisong kids. Even their name wasn’t normal…Harrison, Harrissong, Haresong…all misspellings of his real last name, Harrisong. Life couldn’t get much more embarrassing, could it? It could and it did and the Harrisong’s fled in the middle of the night to embark on a whole new adventure, for better or worse.
Klise is a master storyteller. The characters are quite well drawn, especially our hero Charles (Charlie). I could relate to his intense feelings of embarrassment! I also appreciated Clara’s indomitable spirit! The only part I found difficult to believe was that a family would take off in the middle of the night for parts unknown over the poster incident. There seemed to be other underlying reasons but they weren’t made clear. Still, this was a great read and a wonderful story of a family sticking together, no matter what.


Knudsen, Michelle

The Dragon of Trelian

Calen is a young mage-in-training who is not particularly confident in his chosen profession. Meg is a young princess who has a strong will and mind of her own, which often gets her into trouble. The inauspicious meeting of the two occurs behind a heavy curtain as they each seek a place to watch a royal procession and ends with Meg promising to reveal a secret. Little do they know that their friendship, magic and a dragon are all that stand between a wedding that will bring peace to two kingdoms and utter destruction of the kingdom of Trelian.

This is an excellent fantasy and adventure, if a bit predictable. The usual suspects are all there...the inexperienced boy, the princess who doesn't behave like one, the crotchety magician, the evil instigator...but all of the main characters are very well drawn and believable. The secondary characters are somewhat flat but, as they are not really important to the story, that's not a problem. The conclusion leaves room for sequels but doesn't leave you hanging on by your finger nails, which is so frustrating! I highly recommend this to all fantasy and adventure lovers!


Koertge, Ron

Deadville

There are as many ways to grieve the death of a loved one as there are people grieving. Some get angry; some cry all the time; others check out, one way or another. Ryan is in the latter group...he spends his time getting stoned with Andy, listening to music, hiding from life every since cancer claimed his little sister's life two years earlier. Just as he's settling into another day of fog and forgetfullness, something happens that shakes him out of his lethargy. Popular, beautiful Charlotte Silano falls from her horse and has fallen into a coma. Ryan finds himself drawn to her hospital room like a moth to a flame. At first, he just sits but soon he's talking to her about life and living, something he's been trying not to do. Will it be enought to save them both?

Ron Koertge is the consumate storyteller. With subtle humor and wit, he explores the intracacies of death and grief and life. This is one of those books you just can't put down, even though you know that, like a paper cut, it's going to hurt in just a moment. For fans of contemporary fiction, this is a must read.
Koertge, Ron
Margaux with an X
8th & up
Contemporary fiction
One would think that being jaw-dropping gorgeous and mega-popular means a problem-free existence. Margaux, however, knows better. She is both and hates it. Her mother is less than involved, being a shopping network addict. Her father simply uses her brilliance to help him win at gambling. The only thing her best friend encourages her to do is be a cruel tease. Margaux has had enough and that's when she meets Danny Riley. He's nothing like anyone she's ever met. He's geeky, skinny, but with a quaint chivalrousness that charms her. And he can match her lightening-quick wit and banter perfectly. As their friendship forms, they discover that each has pain and disappointment in their lives but learn how to cope.
Ron Koertge is a wonderful young adult writer who seems to have a finger on the pulse of their lives. This is a tightly-woven story that does much to break the stereotypes of beautiful people. The voices of his characters speak loud and clear. They are engaging and very real. No one has the perfect life and no amount of beauty will bring that perfection.

Krisher, Trudy
Uncommon Faith
8th & Up
Historical fiction
Life is difficult for folks in the mid-nineteenth century, but even more so for women and blacks. They have no rights, they are considered property, they cannot vote or own land...they have no voice to speak for them. In a small town in Massachusetts, a young woman begins to challenge those traditions and finds a powerful voice to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Faith Common is a preachers daughter. She is very bright and very outspoken, much to the dismay of her bishop father and meek mother. When she sees injustice, she steps out with confidence in her own abilities, and makes herself heard. She takes on the local school master who thinks that mathematics is beyond a woman's capabilities, the local merchant who cheats the women because they've not learned their sums, and even her father who doesn't believe that women should speak out at all. She is a powerful agent for change in a time when things are changing everywhere.
Faith Common is an amazing character but the only one fully developed in this coming-of-age story. The viewpoints of each character are written in each chapter. This format is very popular and works sometimes but, in this case, there are too many characters talking about too many events, making you lose track of where the story is going. Change is each person is evident but by the end of the book, it seems as if little has been accomplished. Krisher is usually and excellent storyteller, but this format didn't work for me.

L
Lackey, Mercedes
Gwynhwyfar: The White Spirit
In a time when gods and spirits of old still roam the world, Gwen sets out to find her place. Though she has the hand of two goddesses on her, Epona, goddess of horse-folk, is the stronger. Gwen has not met a horse that did not do as she asked. She wants nothing more than to become a warrior. On Samhain, her hero Braith acknowledges her gift and informs her father, the king, that he would do well to let her train for the warrior path. This decision will touch so many other lives, including the High King Arthur's. First, however, come two other Gwynhwyfar's, war, destruction, love and, finally, death.

Magic and intrigue are the main order of business in Mercedes Lackey's Arthurian tale, which is based on documents of old that mention the Arthur actually married 3 women with the same name and a fourth, who was an impostor. In this story, as in Marion Zimmer Bradley's, the women are the main focus, though with Gwen being a warrior woman, there's plenty of blood and battles, as well. Girls who enjoy reading a good adventure story and can keep up with magical shiftings will love this tale.

Laird, Elizabeth
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
Granny's a cold, cruel woman who would rather hurl curses at you than anything else but she was NOT a witch, no matter what they say! Maggie was raised by her granny after her mother died at birth and father was taken by the sea a few years later. Like most women in the 1600s, Granny knew of herbs that would heal and she was a skilled midwife but her harsh words and the drink would often get her into trouble. One evening, Mr. MacBean came to fetch her because his wife was in labor. The child was delivered alive but sickly and the old woman predicted that he wouldn't live out the week. When that happened, MacBean claimed that she had cursed the child and that she was a witch. The entire village became inflamed with the idea of a witch in their midst and many citizens came forward with "proof" of witchcraft. Both Granny and Maggie were convicted and sentenced to death. Early on the morning of the hanging, Tam, a disreputable but kindly friend orchestrated a daring escape and Maggie was saved. Her only refuge lies days away at the home of her uncle but just when safety seems in reach, someone from her past appears, threatening to destroy all she's come to count on.

Maggie is an interesting character. At the start of her story, she is a meek, easily frightened girl! She's been known to faint dead away with some strong emotion. Yet she finds the courage to not only survive but thrive under the most dire circumstances. Laird captures perfectly life in the 1600s. The hardships were not just those of living in a time before industrialism made life easier but, at that time, there was great religious persecution, as well. The Covenanters were those who disregarded King Charles I order to recognize him as the head of the church. Scotland is littered with the graves of the martyrs of this time period. Laird offers a historical background of the issues of the day in her Afterward. Fans of historical fiction will find a great adventure and a young girl who finally finds her voice and her purpose and it's not what you might expect!
Landy, Derek
Skulduggery Pleasant
7-9
Fantasy, Mystery
Stephanie's eccentric Uncle Gordon has died. The funeral was an unusual affair...small but diverse crowd. Later, at the reading of the will, Stephanie finds out that she is now the sole, 12-year-old possessor of a fortune, including the mansion in which Gordon lived! That evening, strange forces contrived to get her alone in the house. All's well, at first, quite like an adventure, really. Suddenly, the night was split with the sound breaking glass, as a hand reached out for her. Just as suddenly, the front door was smashed off its hinges and in walked Skulduggery Pleasant, a strange man covered from head to toe in a hat, trench coat and scarf. Skulduggery beat him away but not before his accoutrement was stripped away and what was left standing there was more of a shock than anything else that had happened!
You are in for an hilarious thrill-ride in the pages of this book. Landy's wicked-sharp British sense of humor is evident on every page and nearly every conversation. The mystery and adventure will keep the pages turning until the end, which promises more adventure and hilarity to come. I highly recommend this one!!!!!

Larsson, Stieg
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Mikael Blonkvist is in trouble. He's on trial for slandering one of the most powerful and wealthy men in all of Sweden. When he is found guilty, the magazine he started years earlier is in danger of going belly-up. Enter the mysterious Lisbeth Salander...actually, Mikael doesn't even know of her existence, yet, but she knows everything about him. Lisbeth was hired by an old-time lawyer to investigate Blomqvist for his boss who wants to hire him for a freelance job. When Mikael is hired by the eccentric millionaire, Henrik Vanger, to write the family biography, he soon learns that the book is just a cover. Thirty years earlier, Vanger's young, beautiful niece disappears without a trace. Vanger is convinced she was murdered...by someone in his family! Blomqvist is an excellent investigative reporter and uncovers some new evidence but hits a roadblock and needs to hire a top-notch researcher. Re-enter Lisbeth Salander. She is both surprised and intrigued when Mikael bursts into her apartment with his proposal. It isn't long before the pair are deep into a decades-long mystery, discovering a horrifying serial killer in the process.

This book IS NOT for the faint of heart. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under the age of 15 or so. The story is incredibly complex and there are some graphically violent sexual encounters as well as lots of casual sex. There are mysteries inside of mysteries and rabbit holes a-plenty...still, it's a gripping book with so many twists and turns that, when the killer is revealed and the mystery solved, you might find yourself wanting to read something about fluffy bunnies. For those who love a good thriller and don't mind being shocked, this is an amazing story and the first in the Millennium Trilogy.

Lasky, Kathryn
Hawksmaid
Matty is a nobleman's daughter and, as such, is very skilled at all things domestic. However, because she's the only child, she's been allowed certain freedoms. Her best friend is Fynn Woodfyn, the son of a forester and her father has begun teacher her falconry. King Richard is across the sea fighting in France, leaving his throne vulnerable to his evil younger brother Prince John. When Matty's mother is murdered by the prince's men and the people of Nottingham are taxed beyond bearing, Matty, Fynn and their friends decide they must do something. They each take on different names in order to spy on the prince and his minions. Meanwhile, Matty's skill at falconry has taken on a life of it's own and she has now surpassed her father. She realizes that she actually understands their speech and, eventually, she's able to converse with them! The birds, beautiful and free, become a secret weapon in their spy games. Soon, however, word comes that Richard has been kidnapped and held for ransom. Robin and his merry men and women now have a new goal, to pay the ransom and free the king; by doing so, freeing their country from Prince John's tyranny. But, will it cost them their lives?

This story was more than a little bit of a stretch for the imagination! Mixing genres is nothing new but the setup for this combination was not particularly well done. There was some foreshadowing that Matty had some kind of special connection with the birds but the revelation that she can understand and speak to them was jarring. When she actually melded with one of them upon her death bed, I actually groaned aloud. I do like the idea of telling the story from Maid Marion's point of view but this one just doesn't work. If you like Robin Hood stories and want a better female perspective, try Robin McKinley's Outlaws of Sherwood or Cynthia Voight's Jackaroo.

Lawrence, Iain
The Wreckers
John Spencer and his father are trying to change their fortunes. They have gone into the shipping business and have embarked on their maiden voyage on the Dragon, their new ship. John takes to the sea immediately and is most excited about this new adventure. As beautiful as it is, the sea can be a dangerous place as John finds out the night that a terrible storm hits. The waves push and shove the ship along, the boards creaking and groaning with the effort to stay afloat. They desperately need a safe harbor to wait out the tempest. Suddenly, lights appear in the distance. When the lightening illuminates the sky, land is just ahead. The lights are guiding them to safety...or are they? When the ship first strikes the rocks, the wooden ship founders and the crew scrambles to save themselves. Why would the people of the island lead them directly to the rocky shoals? John soon finds out that the sea is not the only dangerous place in the world.


Lawrence, Iain
The Buccaneers
7-9
Historical
We visit John Spencer as he is on yet another adventure on his father’s ship, Dragon. While in the open sea, they encounter a small lifeboat adrift. The man aboard, at first sight of the Dragon, tries to flee. They easily catch up with him and bring him aboard and that’s when mysterious things begin to happen. As the story unfolds, we learn that Horn is not quite what he seems to be but he is a strong, excellent sailor and earns John’s as well as the rest of he crew’s respect. Soon their high adventure begins to turn dangerous. They encounter a rogue navy captain-turned-pirate, buried treasure, and a stranding on a deserted island.
As with The Wreckers and The Smugglers, John is thrown into situations where he must make difficult decisions for a teenager. His father depends upon the success of this and every voyage and John is being groomed to become a captain so with each adventure, he adds to his knowledge and confidence as a seaman.
Lawrence tells exciting stories that are especially good for boys but also for anyone who enjoys a heart-pounding adventure. His characters are well-defined and easy to identify with. He is very good at drawing the reader into the story.

Lawrence, Iain
The Convicts
6th - 7th
Historical
For Tom Tin, life has definitely taken a turn for the worse. His little sister is dead; his mother walks around like a ghost; his father is hauled off to debtor's prison. Tom blames all of this on Mr. Goodfellow whose name has nothing to do with his personality. Tom vows revenge and heads off to find it. What he gets instead is loads of trouble. He is accosted by a blind man who scavenges for discarded treasure along the river who later turns up dead. Worms, a body snatcher, turns up just at the wrong time and enlists Tom's help in digging up the body of a boy who looks just exactly like him. A group of ruthless pickpockets mistake him for their former leader they thought was dead (yes, the body Worms had dug up). Need a breath? Well, there isn't time. Tom gets thrown into prison for murder. He is sentenced to 7 years on a prison ship. More adventures ensue from there.
Iain Lawrence is one of my favorite authors but this is my least favorite book of his. There's just too much going on and a lot of it is not resolved. Tom finds a diamond and there might be a curse on it, but that's not really dealt with satisfactorily. The reason why Tom looks so much like the dead street ruffian is just a little too much of a stretch. Still, for those reluctant boy readers, all the action and trouble Tom gets into will be an attraction.

Lawrence, Iain
The Lightkeeper’s
6th - 7th
Historical
Lizzie Island, a place of tragedy and loneliness, was home to the lightkeeper and his family. Murry, lightkeeper and self-appointed teacher; Hannah, peacekeeper and mother; Squid, wild and beautiful, Alastair, quiet and introspective. To Murray, the island was paradise but it was less so for the rest of his family. He had vision of each of his children remaining on the island and taking over as lightkeeper after he retired. This, however, was not to be. At 17, Squid returns to the island for the first time since she gave birth to her daughter, Tatianna, at age 13. She is angry and sad for the loss of her beloved brother, Alastair, who died when he was only 14. The remaining family members walk carefully around the tragedy, not wanting to get too close yet, like moths to a flame, unable to help themselves.
Lawrence has, once again, written an excellent tale of a family trying to deal with each other. As he did with Lord of the Nutcracker Men, he weaves the story in bits, giving the reader only small glimpses into their lives until you have the whole tapestry that makes a family. While the story doesn’t end on a happy Hollywood note, the reader comes away satisfied that all will be well, eventually.


Lawrence, Iain
Lord of the nutcracker men
6th - 7th
Historical
Johnny is a typical boy. He plays war with the beautifully carved nutcracker soldiers that his father made for him. He spends hours imagining battles and glorious victories. In 1914, however, the battles become real for Johnny as his father goes off to fight the Germans. Johnny is sent to live with his aunt in the English countryside, far from London where he grew up but has become a very dangerous place. The letters his father writes at the beginning of the war are cheerful and full of heroic tales. He sends along more soldiers that he’s carved, many of which are based on soldiers in his division. Soon, though, the letters reveal the ugliness of war and the soldiers Johnny receives reflect the emotions and tragedy that his father experiences. As Johnny continues to play his war games, the simulations he imagines seem to come true on the real battlefield. He begins to believe that as he plays, he has some magical power over his father’s fate and the outcome of the war.
Lawrence has written an excellent story about a family going through one of the most difficult times in history with such sensitivity and insight. The research that went into the writing of this story is fascinating. Lawrence includes an Author’s note at the end of the story explaining, further, some of the interesting facts and some of his inspiration for writing the story. Knowing that the author has included some of his personal history in the story makes it that much more interesting.


Lawrence, Iain
Ghost Boy
6th - 7th
Historical
“He’s ugly and stupid, He’s dumb as a post, He’s a freak and a geek, He’s Harold the Ghost;” this is a poem written on the window of a café in town and the kids of abuse Harold has heard all of his life. Harold is an albino, completely devoid of any color. The only one who cares about and loves him was his older brother who is missing in action somewhere in Japan. While out walking, he meets the Human Fossil and Princess Minikin who are members of a traveling circus. They tell him of the Cannibal King who is just like Harold, an albino! After a nasty argument with his mother and stepfather, he runs away to join the circus as a freak. Samuel, the Fossil, and Tina, Princess Minikin take him in and treat him like their own son. He’s found a place to belong and even a job he’s good at. He’s put in charge of the elephants and teaches them to play baseball, which promises to bring new life to the dying circus. Life seems idyllic until he realizes that the circus, just like outside life, there are two groups – the freaks and everyone else. As he the two groups, he comes to an understanding about himself; he is no better or worse than anyone else but he was better than he was before.
Lawrence has given us another great story. His characters have depth and soul, remarkable in contemporary literature. Almost everyone, at one time or other, has dreamed of running away to join the circus. Through Harold’s experience, we learn that life in the circus is much the same as life outside of the big top. This is another book I highly recommend!!!

Lee, Y.S.
The Agency: A Spy in the House
The wages of thievery is death and Mary Quinn is facing the grim reaper at the tender age of twelve. At the eleventh hour, she is saved by a woman posing as the prison warden. She is taken to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls where she receives a proper education; lessons in manners, languages, mathematics, etc. When she is eighteen, she approaches the headmistresses with a problem. She wants more from life than a job as a governess or teacher or wife but she is unsure what, since women in the late 19th century had very few prospects outside of domestic life. What happens next both surprises and excites her. As it turns out, the school is merely a front for a secret organization called the Agency, a group of specially trained women investigators who work outside of traditional society's purview. She accepts the appointment and is assigned her first case. She will pose as a young lady's companion but will also be looking into the father's nefarious activities. Mary soon learns that the Thorold home is rife with secrets and a strong undercurrent of danger.

What a delightful mystery! The first in the Mary Quinn Mystery series sets up an elaborate network of characters and a fascinating premise...the idea that a 19th century woman can be something other than a spinster/teacher, governess or wife and even have adventures! The suspense comes from the situations that Mary finds herself in as she tries to gather information but does fall flat, on occasion. The story bogs down a bit in the middle but picks back up when clues about her heritage come into play. Girls seeking strong female characters and intrigue should not miss this one.

Levithan, David
Every You, Every Me
Snippets of memory, of conversations, of time spent flutter through Evan's mind. Ariel. Her voice and her laughter filter through in between thoughts of school, family, friends. She is gone and he feels/might be/is responsible. Those last days were manic. She was in her moods then out again. Then it happened and he is bereft, unable to move on. He begins to wonder if he's going...no, he won't use the word. When photographs begin showing up, first on the path in the woods just before he walked along then in his locker and even in Jack's locker. Pictures of her and Evan and Jack in familiar, special places, then a picture of stranger. Who was he? Who was taking the pictures? What did he or she know about Ariel? What did he and Jack know about her? Evan knows that he should just leave it alone but he can't rest until he finds the photographer; until he learns what went wrong.

Levithan delivers a chilling tale that is guaranteed to cause readers to look over their shoulders more than once. He has captured in words what it might be like to slowly go insane, to lose control over your life and even your thoughts. The atmospheric setting and the complexly layered characters are only part of the intrigue. Very slowly, Levithan lets slip a small bit of information about Ariel and what happened to her. The other thing that makes this novel unique is that it is a collaboration with photographer Jonathan Farmer. Farmer was asked to send in photographs and his only instruction was that the subjects needed to be a boy and a girl. Levithan's incredible imagination took over from there. Share this with fans of Gail Giles, Joyce Carol Oates, or Carol Plum-Ucci.

Limb, Sue
Girl, nearly 16 Absolute Torture
7 - 9
Contemporary Fiction
The summer is all planned. Jess will spend all of it staring, longingly, into Fred's eyes, strolling in the park, going to concerts, engaging in clever banter! It would be her most romantic summer ever...until disaster struck. Her nutty mum announced with a flourish that they were going on a 2 week road trip, ending with a visit to her nerdy but adorable father's beach place. Under normal, Fred-less circumstances, this trip would be enjoyable but now Jess was desperate to think of some dreadful disease she could contract in less than 24 hours that would keep her at home. If the timing of the trip wasn't bad enough, her mother had scheduled several stops at the graves of several dearly departed literary giant from Great Britain's long and illustrious history. At the end of the line, awaits a surprise that her parents have kept secret since their divorce. Will the adage, "absence makes the heart grow fonder," be true or will she lose Fred to someone more, beautiful, funnier, more available? The torture of it all!!
What a lovely romp through the never-boring life of a dramatic teenager! You will laugh, cry, feel ridiculous all in the pages of this British novel. The characters are absolutely fabulous and you feel an instant connection with each of them. The ending is a bit too tidy and contrived, but gals who are into chick lit will love this one!

Lion, Melissa
Swollen
8 & up
Contemporary Fiction
Old people die, not 17-year-old track stars, right? Owen died in his sleep from a "heart condition" but rumors swirl about the real reason. There are grief counselors on hand to help the students through the tragedy but many wonder how they're supposed to feel about it? Everyone is different. Linda, his girlfriend is sad and scared. Chloe, the girl who grew up with him, cries a lot. Samantha feels relieved. On the day Owen died, a new boy appeared in school. A boy from the East coast. A boy she might not run away from.
Lion has written a story about your average family dealing with the everyday problems of life until the day a young man dies. Samantha, the main character, narrates and we see the events unfold through her eyes and the filters that are inherent to her. For the most part, the characters are well-rounded and believable but I must admit to much frustration at the new boy's treatment of Sam but I suppose that boys are just that way, sometimes (grrrrr).

Lisle, Janet Taylor
The Crying Rocks
6th - 8th
Contemporary Fiction
Stories about her life before are sketchy, at best, fantasy, at worst. Supposedly, she arrived on a freight train at the age of five after having lived on the streets with a crazy old lady who made her pay her way by searching for cigarette butts. "Don't ask me! I can't remember anything," says Joelle. She looks nothing like her adopted parents, Aunt Mary Louise and Vernon, who are fair and short. Joelle is tall, lithe, and very dark, like an Indian, observes Carlos, a friend in her neighborhood. He tells her about a painting in the local library of the Narragansett Indians and Joelle can't resist sneaking a peak. There is a flicker of recognition, which piques her interest. She and Carlos begin hiking in the woods to find ancient Indian sites in the area. They find one called Crying Rocks, where it is said the souls of murdered Indian children cry out. Being there and hearing the strange, eerie sound sparks vague memories in Joelle and horrible ones in Carlos. Both must face what happened in the past and learn to move on.
Rarely have I met such a thorny character that I actually liked! Janet Taylor Lisle has written Joelle with a thin skin of prickles to keep people out and to keep her memories hidden but mixed with a large dose of tenderness underneath. The characters are fairly well drawn, though the way Joelle's past is explained is artificial. Even so, the story and the mystery of her past are enough to keep the reader intrigued.

Livingston, Lesley
Wondrous Strange
Kelley is living her dream...she is the understudy turned feature actress in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in an off-off-Broadway theater. Faeries and magic become everyday things, in more ways than Kelly imagines. When she meets Sonny, a handsome, silver-gray eyed young man, her reality shifts forever. Sonny is a changeling, a human kidnapped by faeries as an infant, who works for King Auberon guarding the gate that stands between the mortal and faerie realms. The Samhain Gate stands open only once a year and this year, the Fae seem to be far more agitated and determined to escape. He doesn't understand why things are so different until he realizes just who Kelley really is. He vows to protect her, at all costs. As Kelley's eyes are opened to her new reality, she begins to fear just who will come to collect. Kelley must now navigate the treacherous waters that flow between her friends and the Fae that threaten them.

Faeries, wizards and magical beings, oh my...the penchant in young adult literature for other-worldly romance stories continues with Livingston's Wonderous Strange. There is nothing new or earth-shattering here. The characters are very similar to other stories, as are the plot twists but still, those who like fantastical romance stories will enjoy this story.

Lord, Gabrielle
Consipracy 365: January
It's New Year's eve and everyone is celebrating. Fireworks are flashing, revelers are stumbling and raucous. Cal is being chased down the street by a dirty, sick man who keeps yelling, "They killed your father. They'll kill you next. You must survive the next 365 days!" Suddenly, Cal's formerly normal life is ripped apart. It all starts with a mysterious boating accident which nearly kills him. Cal is on the run with a price on his head. The police want him in connection with an brutal attack on his little sister and uncle. Two different groups of powerful criminals want him for what his father, who is recently dead from an unknown virus that destroyed his brain before killing him, wrote him in letters. He no longer knows who to trust. The clock ticks with the beat of his heart but how long till both are stopped?

This heart-pounding thriller is only the first in an ambitious 12 book series. A new installment will come out each month, ending in December, the same month that will also bring safety to Cal and his family. This short but exciting book will grab hold of any one who dares to pick it up but is especially appealing to reluctant male readers, though there are more than a few adrenaline junkies who happen to be girls who would be into this book, as well!

Lowry, Lois
Gossamer
6th - 8th
Fantasy
Do you ever wonder where our dreams come from? What are they made of? Why do some dreams become nightmares? There are messengers who come in the night. They explore our homes and our memories, finding the good and peaceful things and weave them into dreams. They protect and strengthen us with their gatherings. Slipping between reality and imaginings, a young, lost boy and a lonely, sensitive woman discover hidden strength and how healing can come from something unseen and mysterious.
Lowry is one of the great master-storytellers of our time! She has perfectly captured the haunting, beautiful quality of dreams and the horror of nightmares. The nighttime characters, though unseen and unheard, are powerful. The human characters are completely believable. All of the characters teach, without realizing that they are doing so. The reader learns to take comfort where it is given and to believe in dreams. It is a beautiful story!
Lubar, David
Dunk
8-10
Fantasy
A voice rips through the crowd on the boardwalk, "Hey, Where'd you get that wig? You scalp it off a poodle? Yeah, you. What's the matter? Did you get glue in your ears when you pasted on that wig?" The Bozo was in complete control of the crowd. He knew just what to say that was funny enough to make the crowd laugh and nasty enough to hook the mark. Once insulted enough, the mark will spend a wad of money to have his revenge and the Bozo is dunked. This is just about the coolest performance that Chad has ever seen in all his years growing up on the boardwalk of the Jersey shore. He is hooked and wants more than anything to get into that tank and hurl insults into the crowd. When he meets the man behind the Bozo face, however, he realizes that there's more to being the Bozo than just being able to hook a mark and that malicious humor has more power than he ever imagined.
In a time when there are so many angry teenagers who become violent, this book offers an imaginative way to deal with that anger without really hurting anyone. Lubar has created characters and situations that are very believable and powerful enough to draw the reader into the story. It is a very difficult book to put down. While there seems to be so much cruelty in the Bozo's remarks, the explanation as to why they don't really harm anyone is true. I highly recommend this new novel. There are some really wonderful discussion points all the way through the book.

Luiken, Nicole
Violet eyes
6th - 8th
Fantasy
Things just don’t quite fit. People keep slipping odd phrases into their conversations. Angel has to play like she doesn’t notice and she just knows that it’s more than her violet colored eyes that make her different. Michael comes into town and blows her world apart. He’s got violet eyes as well as the same kind of ideas and strengths as Angel. They seem to be two halves of a whole. At first, she’s intimidated, feeling like Michael is horning in on her friends and family and she fights him at every turn. Soon, however, she recognizes and gives in to the powerful pull between her and Michael. Just as they begin to date, they realize that they are being played by the scientists who have been watching them all of their lives. You see, they are genetically enhanced people who have been raised thinking that it’s the 1970’s and 1980’s but it’s actually 2089. They are part of a project to test their abilities…strength, intelligence, life-skills, but to what end? Escape is all Angel and Michael can think of. When their opportunity comes they take it only to be drawn into more danger. In a match of wits, they are playing for their lives and their freedom.
There are some implausible parts of the story and some areas that are dealt with rather abruptly which make for some bumpy reading. How Angel knew certain things about another character are not explained either. You have to assume that her best friend told her these things earlier in their relationship. Neither are the adults particularly believable. Still, it was an enjoyable escape and will attract teens looking for a little romance and strong female characters.


Lupica, Mike
Heat
He's on the mound going into his wind-up. That's when he sees it. A man running with a woman's purse. Not just any woman but his neighbor, Ms Cora, who looks out for him and his brother. He has to do something. So, he throws the ball, hitting the thief squarely in the back of the head...the same distance as from home plate to center field! Michael Arroyo has just caught a thief but, in doing so, his one act of kindness will turn his world upside-down. You see, Michael, his older brother and their father came from Cuba on a boat. But now Papi is dead and Carlos won't be eighteen for months. They've been able to dodge social services so far but now that Michael is a hero, their secret is vulnerable. To make matters worse, a coach from another team has called into question his age. Michael is very tall and his pitches seem harder, faster and pack more punch than any 12-year-old's should. With no legal papers to prove his age, he has to sit out most of the season. But thanks to a new friend and some major league intervention, Michael's little league career is saved.
For baseball fans, this is a must read. The action is as fast-paced as Michael's best fast ball. The ending seems a little too left-field but it's still satisfying, especially after all Michael and his family have been through. Readers, even non-baseball fans, will cheer for Michael while they boo-hiss the sore losers. This one will have you on your feet singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"!

Lupica, Mike
Hero
Zach Harriman is the son of a hero. Tom Harriman lead missions into some of the most dangerous places on earth and always survived. He was also Dad who loved the Knicks and playing football and spending time with his son. Zach, however, was not particularly heroic. He was bullied mercilessly by a boy from school, rescued by his best friend Kate. He just tried to keep his head down and blend in. All that changed when his father's airplane crashed; his father the expert pilot who loved flying almost as much as he loved his family. After the grief eases, Zach is left wondering what really happened. During his investigation he meets a strange man, Mr. Herbert, who seems to know everything about him and a few things that he didn't know about himself or his father...like the fact that they have superpowers! At first, Zach doesn't believe him but then, he transports himself instantly to another location just by thinking about it and Zach knows that he's different. Mr. Herbert tells him that there are bad people who will come for him. His Uncle John tells him not to trust Mr. Herbert. In the end, Zach can only trust himself, but will that be enough to do what needs to be done?

Mike Lupica, well known for his sports books, makes a drastic departure with this fantasy thriller. It is tailor-made for reluctant readers. The characters are straight-forward, with just enough mystery to keep the average reader guessing. The plot's momentum is carried forward by the need to find out more. Recommend this to fans of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series or any of the my-father-is-a-spy-and-so-am-I books that have come out recently (Steel Trapp, Spy High, etc.)

Lynch, Chris
*Freewill
8 & up
Fantasy
Will is an extremely confused young man in desperate pain. A year earlier his father ran his car off the road killing himself and his wife, Will’s stepmother. There was no reason for the accident and the possibility of murder/suicide loom in Will’s mind. He is living with his grandparents and going to a special school where he takes woodworking. He finds that he has a particular talent in this area but he is so lost in his anguish that he loses interest in making the functional items that his teacher assigns. Instead he begins to carve these strange totems. They are as haunting as they are beautiful…and they begin to appear at the scenes of a rash of teen suicides. Soon people begin to focus their attention on Will, which forces him to take a look at himself and his pain.
Not a book I’d recommend. There is quite a bit of cursing and the story is confusing in places. Lynch is very good at drawing you into the story and making you really want to know what happens but when he wraps it up, there is no feeling of conclusion. There are several things he alludes to but never answers like whether or not Will’s dad drove the car off the road on purpose or who was really behind the suicides or why Will was not a serious suspect, since his sculptures kept showing up at the scenes either after they happened or , eerily, before.

Lynch, Chris
*Inexcusable
8 & up
Contemporary Fiction
Good guys just don't do this sort of thing! They don't hurt people so what she's saying about him just couldn't be right. Good guys know when to stop. They don't press their advantage, especially when she's his best friend in the whole world. For a good guy like Keir to do something like that is inconceivable, incomprehensible, inexcusable.
Lynch, a master writer, has written another emotionally charged story about what good guys can do under bad circumstances. We are privy to Keir's running commentary of events leading up to the incident through which he begins to see that, perhaps, he's not such a good guy after all. This is a powerful story that all guys, good or not so good, should read.

Lynch, Chris
Who the Man
7-8
Contemporary Fiction
Different...no body wants to be different, not really but different is certainly what Earl Pryor is. At thirteen, he stands taller than anyone in his middle school, including most of his teachers, and he has to shave. High school kids ask him to buy their beer. He doesn't have many friends because people think he's a tough guy, always looking for a fight, and fight he will, when provoked. When he gets suspended from school for fighting, he has a lot of time on his hands. He's known for a long time that things weren't right at home between his moms and his dad but soon it become obvious just how bad. Everything and everyone he's counted on fails him and he's learning early that it takes more than just being big to be a man.
Chris Lynch is a master storyteller and has woven a heart-wrenching story of a boy coming to terms with the difficulties of being a part of a broken family. He uses short, conversationally choppy sentences to let the reader into Earl's mind. It's written completely in first person so you find out information as Earl discovers or begins to process it in his mind. This technique draws you into the story so that you actually feel the characters pain and frustration. Even though it's a rather depressing topic and will hit close to home for many teens, the book ends with the hope of healing for the family. I highly recommend this one.

M

Mackall, Dandi
The Silence of Murder
Hope Long is terrified. Her brother, Jeremy has been accused of the brutal murder of beloved Coach Johnson but she knows with everything in her being that he could not have done it. Jeremy is a special needs boy of eighteen. He's been diagnosed with most every disorder at one time or another but one thing is for sure...he chose to stop talking when he was 9-years-old. The evidence against him is overwhelming. He was seen running away from the barn where Coach Johnson was murdered with the murder weapon, his own Louisville Slugger which was later found in his room. His "difference", while not exactly evidence, certainly works against him. The only option for the defense is to try to prove that Jeremy is not guilty by reason of insanity. When things go badly in the courtroom, Hope embarks on her own investigation complete with a growing suspect list. But, someone does not want her to dig any deeper. She receives creepy phone calls, the caller whispering to leave things alone. She sees an old white pick-up truck following her. The danger is closer than she thinks. The murderer is someone she knows!

What an amazing ya thriller! Mackall uses Jeremy's silence to its best advantage and drops clues at just the right places in order to keep the pages turning. The emotionally charged atmosphere lends an urgency to the story. The characters, while not all likeable (Rita, Hope and Jeremy's mother, comes to mind) are fully developed and interesting. While knowing that the real murderer will eventually be revealed, the person it turns out to be was a bit of a surprise. The ending was a bit like a television trial where the real killer is revealed in the courtroom amidst chaos. It sure makes for good reading! Recommend this to readers who enjoyed Alane Ferguson's The Christopher Killer series and fans of the thriller/mystery/suspense genres.

Mahoney, Karen
The Iron Witch
There's something strange about Donna Underwood. She wears long gloves up to her elbows all the time, regardless of the weather. Everyone thinks that it's because of some injury. That's true but the kind of injury is far from anything her school mates, even her best friend could possibly understand. When she was 7, she was attacked by the fey. Her father dies saving her. Maker, the most powerful alchemist, fixed her by binding her bones and flesh with an iron and silver alloy. It left beautiful but difficult to explain tattoos on her arms. The only semblance of normal in her life is Navin, her best friend and neighbor. He's always been there for her but she's always had to lie to him, to protect him, certainly, but also because she fears losing him if he knew the truth. It is inevitable that her two lives would collide one day and on that day, Navin is kidnapped by the Wood Fairy Queen, held ransom for the Elixir of Life, which the alchemists have. Now, Donna must make the most difficult decision of her young life and take her place as a warrior in the ancient battle between her fellow alchemists and the angry Fey.

It is a fascinating concept that tattoos can heal in addition to looking pretty. Mahoney has created a believable teen girl who is both strong and needy; one who does not know her true self yet. There are annoying parts where Donna is such a girl (of the Bella variety rather than the stronger Katniss) and needs a boy, and a pretty one at that, to help her. Still, Xan is an interesting character, complete with his own secrets. Adults are nearly non-existent in the story, though Donna's Aunt Paige seems like an intriguing woman with her life split between alchemy and a regular human career. The ending definitely leaves room for a sequel so, stay tuned for more Fey adventure!

Meloy, Maile
The Apothecary
Fear...it's what drove Janie Scott's parents to suddenly move them all to London from Los Angeles. The Scotts work in Hollywood and many of their colleagues are being accused of being Communists and they are on the black list. Janie is angry about moving away from the her friends and the lovely weather in California to the gray, chill of London. She is homesick and miserable at her new school but, when she meets Benjamin Burrows, the son of the local apothecary (the English equivalent of pharmacist), things get interesting. Ben recruits her to help him watch a Russian man he is convinced is a spy. One day, they are pretending to play chess, they witness Ben's father take a note from the Russian. Soon after, the Apothecary vanishes, leaving his mysterious book in the care of his son. The ancient book, the Pharmacopoeia, is as mysterious as it is old. Inside, there are elixirs for all kinds of things and all of them unimaginable but very real, which they discover one day when they try out the recipe for a "truth serum". Now the teenagers find themselves in the middle of a quest and, with the help of some interesting characters, they will find the apothecary and save the world!

This is a great story, as long as you can immerse yourself in it and suspend your disbelief! The teens are very quick to believe all of the strange goings on around them and the Pharmacopoeia. The transformative elixirs are pretty out-there but certainly based, loosely, in science. Meloy does an excellent job of conveying the sense of impending danger that came with the beginning of the Cold War and the idea that the radiation damage could be contained, is intriguing. She is also an excellent storyteller so, suspending disbelief is not so difficult, after all. Fans of spy stories and historical fiction will enjoy this one.

Marchetta, Melina
Finnikin of the Rock
An idyllic childhood for three best friends, Prince Balthazar, Finnikin and Lucian, is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable. The king, queen and 3 of their daughters are slaughtered in the palace. Balthazar and Isaboe escape only to be cut down in the forest surrounding the palace. The impostor who siezes the throne murders the Forest Dwellers and the people of Lumatere turn on each other. From her burning pyre, the leader of the Forest Dwellers casts a terrible curse on the land. Bound inside impenetrable walls of magic are the Impostor and those who don't escape. Ten long, miserable years pass and Finnikin and his mentor Sir Topher are summoned to receive someone who has an outrageous claim...that Prince Balthazar, true heir to the throne, lives! Evanjalin leads them on a journey full of pain and hope but hope is a double edged sword that Finnikin walks, desperate to believe but afraid of the truth. Things are not as they seem, however, and the truth will be much more difficult to bear than Finnikin ever imagined.

It's a rare thing when an author is able to master two such diverse genres as contemporary and fantasy fiction but Marchetta has done so in spades! This is an epic tale of ancient, powerful magic, love, fear and a people's desperate desire to reclaim all that was so violently taken from them. There are battles and bloodshed that will entice boys and strong women and romance that will capture the girls. It's an all-around excellent story that I highly recommend.

Marcus, Kimberly
Exposed
BFF...such a trite way to describe a friendship especially for Liz and Kate. For most of their lives, they have been inseparable. Kate is a dancer, graceful, beautiful, determined. Liz is a photographer, focused, balanced, composed. Both are certain that nothing can ever come between them...until it does. One Friday, they are at Liz's house for the weekly slumber party. Liz makes some snide comments about Kate's boyfriend and the two part ways in a huff. Liz sleeps upstairs in her room and Kate is on the couch down stairs. When she wakes, Kate is gone. At first, Liz thinks that she's just miffed about their argument the night before and things will go back to normal later. When Monday comes, however, Kate pointedly avoids her all day. Liz soon realizes that something is very wrong when she starts to hear whisperings all around her and classmates begin to avoid her as well. When she finally confronts Kate, what she tells her shakes her to her very core. Can it be true? Can he really have done something so horrible? Will things ever be the same?

In raw, sparse verse, Marcus weaves a tale of ultimate betrayal. This, her debut novel, is unforgettable and nearly impossible to put down. Her deft characterizations are spot-on. The relationships between all of the characters are fully fleshed out and thought provoking. The issue of date rape is dealt with effectively, with compassion and raw truth. The outcome of the trial will certainly spark some, likely, heated discussion. This, like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak should be recommended for all teenagers, both boys and girls, to read.
Marillier, Juliet
Dauther of the Forest
Sorcha is the youngest of 6 brothers. They live an idyllic life with their parents in the mystical land called Sevenwaters. One horrible day, tragedy strikes and Sorcha witnesses her mother's brutal death when a huge, otherworldly wolf attacks her. The children are devastated but not more so than their father Colum. He cuts himself off from them, retreating into his own misery. Years later, their father returns from a long journey with a beautiful woman at his side. His people and most of his children are completely smitten with her. Sorcha, however, knows that she is not what she seems. After they are married, the terrible truth of who their new mother's identity is born out through a curse placed upon the boys. They are turned into swans and are doomed to remain so unless Sorcha can break the curse. The task is nearly impossible, as most curse-breakings are. The suffering and pain, both physical and emotional, take their toll on the young girl, but she is her brothers' only hope to return to humanity and to save Sevenwaters from certain annihilation.

Juliet Marillier is one of the best storytellers of our time!!! Her books are full of memorable characters wo are fully realized and believable. The magical elements are obviously well researched and accurate. Her descriptions have the ability to put you in the worlds she creates. There is action and adventure and strong female characters. The romance builds subtly but leaves the reader satisfied without graphic descriptions. The original books were a trilogy but Marillier has just released a companion book called The Heir to Sevenwaters which continues the story with one branch of the original clan. It was just as amazing and well-written as the first. I highly recommend ANYTHING written by Juliet Marillier!!!
Marillier, Juliet
The Blade of Fortriu
8th & up
Fantasy/Adventure
A new age has begun in Fortriu but there is much still to be done. Gaelic invaders threaten the borders, a powerful chieftain in the North needs to be swayed to Fortriu's side, and a new religion gains power and popularity. Bridei has plans, though. He will march against the invaders in a surprise attack and he is sending the beautiful Ana to offer herself in marriage to Alpin in exchange for his signing a treaty with Bridei to not raise arms against him in the coming battle. Ana has grown into a beautiful woman, educated and curious. The journey north is fraught with danger and ends in disaster. Only she and Faolan survive to reach Briar Wood. When she discovers that her husband-to-be has imprisoned his own brother, Drustan, in horrible conditions, she is appalled but no one seems to want to talk about why he's there and what he did. To complicate matters further, Ana discovers that she has feelings for both Faolan and Drustan but only loathing for her intended, Alpin. The treaty is very important to Fortriu but what are Alpin's real intentions toward Bridei and what really happened the day that Alpin's first wife was killed? So many secrets, so little time.
The second book of The Bridei Chronicles was well worth the wait (though I did cheat and order it from England because I couldn't wait for the October American release). There was a lot going on, though, almost too much to keep up with! Like in her Daughters of the Forest, I was pulling for the main character to end up with one man but Juliet had other ideas. I just hope that she is kinder to the "loser" in the next book!!!

Marillier, Juliet
Foxmask
8th & up
Fantasy/Adventure
Thorvald has never felt quite like everyone else. He has always held himself apart from the rest of his people. Creidhe and Sam are his only friends because they see past his aloofness to the insecure man inside. He is welcomed into manhood with the disturbing news that his birth father was not Ulf, the slain king of the island. To make matters worse, the man who fathered him is Somerled, Ulf's younger brother and his murderer. Somerled was cast off the island with nothing more than a knife and a skin of water. No one knows whether he survived but Thorvald is determined to find out. Sam who is a fisherman and has a boat agrees to take Thorvald on his quest. Creidhe stowed away because she felt like Thorvald might need her. When they land on an island north of their home where they find a strange settlement where things are not what they seem. Thorvald, Creidhe and Sam must learn to trust their instincts to find their way home again.
Juliet Marillier is a master storyteller and has woven another intricate and wholly satisfying story based on Norse legend and myth. As she did with her first series, The Seven Waters Trilogy, this series picks up several years after the first book, Wolfskin. I highly recommend this book to those who are fantasy fans and sophisticated readers.

Marillier, Juliet
Wildwood Dancing
8th & up
Fantasy
Nothing is as it seems for Jenica and her sisters. They live comfortably in a manor house, bordered by a mysterious wood. Once a month, during the full moon, a portal opens up between their world and the world of the Others. The girls, since childhood, have been going through the portal and dancing the night way in gowns of gossamer and jewels. They are older now and things are not as simple or carefree. When their father becomes ill and must go away to warmer climes, the running of the estate falls to Jenica. While they are still able to escape to the Other Kingdom, their power-hungry and twisted cousin Cezar begins to meddle in business and personal affairs. He is suspicious of their nocturnal activities and has become obsessed with destroying the forest, which would mean the death of their friends in the Other Kingdom. To complicate matters, Tatiana, the sister just behind Jenica in age, has fallen in love with one of the enigmatic and fearsome Night People and is drawing away from her world, toward the Other Kingdom and her true love. It is up to Jenica with the help of her trusted if a little unorthodox best friend, Gorgu, a magical, talking frog, to do what is right for Tatiana and the rest of the family.
Marillier's expert storytelling weaves a tale that is spellbinding, with characters who are wholly believable and situations that beg the reader to keep turning the pages. I highly recommend this story!!!

Marillier, Juliet
Cybele's Secret
8th & up
Fantasy
Paula, the youngest in a family of daughters, accompanies her merchant father on a trip to Istanbul. They are in search of a rare artifact worth a fortune. It is said that it is a gift from the goddess Cybele to her followers and is the only relic left from a large and powerful cult. The trip, however, does not go as planned. Rumors about the object and it's power circulate through the city as does the possibility that the cult is being revived and gaining new followers as well as power. When a colleague and friend of her father's is found murdered, suddenly the game becomes far more serious. Paula finds the intrigue exciting and the attentions of two very different men intoxicating but who can she really trust? Especially when Cybele, herself, seems to be nudging Paula with signs that seem to say "Find the secret".
Again, Marillier weaves a magical story round the reader, drawing us into her web. The mystery, the characters, and the hint of romance make it impossible not to devour the story as fast as possible. Careful, though. When it's over, you'll just have a long wait until her next book comes out!


Marillier, Juliet

Heart's Blood

With the death of her father comes a new horror, her aunt and his vile son. Battered and abused, Catrin finally finds the courage to run. She is a well trained scribe and is determined to make her own way in the world, not dependent on anyone. Her hasty travels bring her to a remote village. Here she finds a village full of suspicion and strangeness. On her first morning, she hears that the chieftain needs a scribe to translate old family histories. She needs money and a place to hide from her brutal cousin so she volunteers to go but she finds much more than she bargained for. Anluan is a man crippled early in life who rules over a land of mystery and ghosts. Hidden somewhere in his family's library is the key to fighting against the evil that has long wandered his lands. But the longer that Catrin stays the more she realizes that she may hold the key not only to victory against evil but also to the bitter heart of Anluan.

This story joins the many that are based on the Beauty and the Beast fairytale but it is an exceptional one. Unlike the traditional stories, the beast is not ugly because of something he did and his deformity is not magically cured but this fact just makes the love story all the more powerful. I highly recommend this one to any fans of Marillier's work and of fairy tales.


Marriott, Zoe
The Swan Kingdom
She is much loved by her mother, the Queen and wise woman of the kingdom. Her father merely tolerates her. Mother and daughter walk the grounds and gardens as Alexandra learns the ways of the earth and how to harness it's power, as women in her family have been doing for centuries. When she turns 15, her mother takes her for her initiation into womanhood, where she will begin to learn of her true powers. That night tragedy strikes in the form of an horrendous beast that attacks her mother. She soon dies from the wounds and the kingdom is cast into shadow. Not long after, a woman of exceptional beauty is found wandering in the woods. The king is completely besotted with her and the rest of the kingdom soon follows; all but Alexandra and her brothers. They recognize her for the evil creature she is. When they try to fight her, the boys turn into swans and fly away and Alexandra is drugged and sent to her aunt in a distant land. For a long while Alexandra is alone, afraid and confused, her crotchety old aunt is not much company. Time passes and Alexandra makes a few friends but longs for her brothers and her old life. One day, a coach from her father and stepmother arrives to fetch her home for a visit. She dreads meeting the horrible woman responsible for her misery but soon realizes that this trip is far more than it seems and Alexandra will have to fight for her life, her brothers and her kingdom.
This was an interesting twist on the Six Swans fairy tale. There were some confusing bits and the ending was too rushed but, fans of fairy tales cum novels, it was quite satisfying.

Marriott, Zoe
Shadows on the Moon
Suzume lives a modest but idyllic life with her mother, father and cousin. Her mother is stern with her and wants her to grow up to be a fine lady. Her father wants her to be whatever she wants to be a and gives her the freedom to do so. Her cousin simply loves her and thinks of her as a sister. One beautiful morning while her mother is away with a family friend, Suzume's world is shattered. Men dressed in black armor come to her home and murder everyone from the lowliest maid to her beloved father. Only she is spared because she has a skill unknown even to her. She is a shadow weaver, one who can create an illusion that no one else can see. That dreadful day, she imagined that she was covered with ash and so she looked like a pile of discarded ashes next to the ovens. Soon, she is whisked into another world full of beautiful and expensive things when her mother marries Terayama-san, her father's dearest friend. This new life bring a new name and the knowledge of what she can do with illusion. But no illusion can mask her pain and sorrow or make her understand her mother's betrayal. All is not as it seems, however, Terayama has eyes only for her mother and soon wants Suzame out of the way. So she must change her identity yet again. Now, as Rin the kitchen drudge


Marsden, John
Tomorrow, when the war began
8th & up
Sci Fi
Ellie and six of her friends have finally talked their parents into letting them go camping in the Australian outback for several days. They eat lots of junk food, swim, tell ghost stories, hike, all the things that teens on their own like to do. When they return home, however, it doesn’t take long to figure out that something is very, very wrong. Their families and neighbors are gone; pets and livestock are left unattended or dead, houses and stores are abandoned. The only clue was left at one of their houses in the form of a cryptic fax sent by the father telling them to “go bush.” After the initial shock passes, they realize that they need to survive if they want to help their families. They gather supplies and as much information as possible and head back to their refuge, ironically known as Hell.
Marsden tells a griping story of the strength and character that is brought out by adversity, even in teenagers. The story takes place in a small rural town in Australia. The characters are well drawn and by the time the action starts the reader is very familiar with them. There are spots that read slowly because of so much detail but get passed that and the story is riveting.

Martin, Ann M.
Here Today
6-8
Historical fiction
Doris Day Dingman was the spectacle of Spectacle, New York. She's always had visions of grandeur for herself. When she's crowned Bosetti Beauty, life begins to change forever. Eleanor Roosevelt Dingman, Ellie for short, is mostly embarrassed by her mother's antics. She tries very hard to be invisible at school to avoid being the victim of the school's clique of popular girls. When one of them targets her, she wishes the earth would just swallow her up and her mother isn't helping. One day she comes home to a house full of anxiety and anger. Her mother has decided to go off to New York to make her dreams of stardom a reality. She makes empty promises then disappears. Ellie desperately wants things to go back to "normal" but it's just not going to happen and she learns that there are some things that you have to let go of in order to move on with her life.
Ann M. Martin has written and emotional story of family struggle and loss. Her characters are wholly believable and beautiful in their longing, their strength, and their ability to survive. It is no wonder that this author has been recognized by the Newbery committee for excellence in writing.

Martin, Rafe
Birdwing
6-9
Fantasy, Adventure
The fairytale is over and life goes on for the six brothers who were turned into swans and saved by their sister. Life after enchantment is very different, however, for one brother. He is left with one arm and one swan's wing. He is a freak to the villagers, a guilty reminder for his sister who failed him, and a mystery to his other brothers who would rather forget their wild swan days. Ardwin feels the pull of his wing every time he sees birds take flight into the open sky. He wants badly to follow but he also wants to be a normal person with two normal arms. When he learns of plans to have his wing cut off and replaced with a magical, mechanical arm, he runs away not only to save his wing but to find himself.
If you've always wondered what really happens ever after, you'll be quite satisfied with this version. It's imaginative, action-packed, full of intrigue and hope. Young adults will be able to identify with Ardwin's desire to run his own life and make decisions for himself. Teenagers all feel as though they have something that sets them apart from the crowd, whether it's a birth defect, stutter, or the need to wear thick glasses. This story may help them realize that whatever it is, doesn't make them different as much as it does unique and special. Another excellent rendition of this fairy tale is Daughters of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, which is the first book of the awesome Sevenwaters Trilogy.

Maberry, Jonathan
Rot & Ruin
First Night happened years ago. Ben was only 5 but he remembers. Now, he and his brother live in one of the few remaining towns, surrounded by fences that keep the zoms out. Tom, Ben's older brother, is a zom hunter. You'd think that he would look up to his brother; after all, his favorite person is Charlie Pink-eye, a charismatic and creepy zombie hunter. Tom, however, is not charismatic...he's boring, always preaching about respecting the dead. He doesn't even call himself a hunter...he's a "closure specialist". Besides zombies that live outside of the town's battlements, Ben has a big problem. He's about to turn 15 and he has to find a job or his rations will be cut in half. He resigns himself to working with his wimpy, weird brother. But, instead of simply killing zombies for money, Ben learns that situations and even people are not always what they seem to be but, it's a lesson that comes with a terrible price.

This is a truly terrifying and heart-wrenching horror story brought to life by a master storyteller. Jonathan must have been the most popular boy around the campfire, growing up! It takes a master writer to deal with the incongruity that exists between the humanity in how Tom does his job and the horror that Charlie Pink-eye and his cronies bring down on the zombies. While this is a zombie book, it is also a study of human nature. If presented with rot and ruin, death and decay (also the titles of the first two in the series), how would we react? What is it about humans that makes our responses so different? When you think about all of the beasties housed in the CDC and other facilities around the world, a zombie infection might not be so far fetched. Books like these might not be "How To" guides but they certainly shine a pretty harsh light on our own humanity or lack thereof.

Next two titles in the series: Death & Decay and Flesh & Bone. Dead & Gone comes out in August, 2013.

Maxwell, Katie
Got Fangs?
8 & up
Fantasy, Chick lit
Most people think that working in a traveling fair would be an adventure; seeing amazing places, meeting completely unique people. All of this would be true if you actually wanted to be there, which Fran definitely does not. She would rather be just about anywhere than at a fair where being unique is rather ordinary. Her mother is a witch and can cast spells and brew potions. Her best friend is the daughter of a vampire. Fran, herself, as a secret talent that she would do anything to hide. When Benedikt appears, flying in on his uber-cool motorcycle, all that changes. He is beautiful, mysterious and a vampire or Moravian Dark One, as he and his kind prefer to be called. Fran, it seems, is his Beloved, the one who can redeem him, if she survives that long.
Vampire fiction is all the rage these days. This one is definitely a fun chick lit addition and there are some lol (laugh-out-loud, for all you non teens) bits that move the story along. This is a good beach book but for some really great vampire fiction, check out anything by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

McCaffrey, Anne
A gift of dragons
8 & up
Fantasy, Chick lit
This is a collection of stories from master storyteller and dragon expert, Anne McCaffrey. The planet Pern is the setting for each of these remarkable stories. Three are familiar to fans of McCaffrey from her over 14 books about the dragons of Pern. the fourth is a new adventure written for this book. One can only hope that it is a tantalizing precursor to a complete book! If you've never read any of McCaffrey's dragon books, this would be a wonderful introduction to her writing but be warned, you'll have to go out immediately and find her complete novels! The dragons and their companions have a way of getting into your heart and sending your imaginations soaring.

McCaughrean, Geraldine
The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
Pepper Roux has known since birth, when he was going to die. His aunty claimed that St. Constance came to her in a dream and told him that he would not live to see fourteen. By the age of five, he could recite the funeral rites and knew all the verses in the Bible about death. Everyone, eve Pepper himself, seemed resigned to it, though he didn't really want to die. On the day he was to turn 14, Pepper decided to sidestep fate and jump into another life. Suddenly, the world opens up to him and he takes full advantage of it. Pepper was a ship's captain, a store clerk, and even a husband, all the while keeping one eye to the sky, fearing retribution from above and one eye ahead to the world of exciting possibilities.

McCaughrean takes us on an exciting romp through life on the run in a time before swiping identities was illegal. Pepper is a charming, innocent character with a good heart despite a depressing upbringing. It was, on occasion, a difficult story to keep up with. Characters jumped into and out of the tale at alarming times but, in the end, everything is explained and makes some sense. This would be a good story for reluctant boys.

McClafferty, Carla
Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium
6-8
Biography
Marie Curie was a maverick in her day. She began life in occupied Poland, the daughter of a teacher and homemaker. From the start, she, her sisters and brother were more educated than the average child. Very few women continued their education after high school but Marie not only graduated with her masters degree, but she went on to get a second masters in mathematics and then her doctorate. One fateful day, she met the man who would become her husband, her lab partner and best friend, Pierre Curie. She was also the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize and followed it up, later, with a second in Chemistry. Though she and her husband are most well known for their discoveries of elements radium and polonium, Marie’s selfless efforts during World War I were just as important. She worked, in spite of mysterious aches and pains, to supply field hospitals with portable X-ray machines so that doctors could give soldiers better, faster care. Marie Curie was an amazing woman in her time and, even now, she is an excellent role model for modern young women. Her accomplishments are unequalled and her selflessness extraordinary.

Detailed and eminently readable, McClafferty’s account of this independent, brilliant woman would be an excellent addition to any library collection. It’s in the details that Marie Curie comes to life. The personal photographs and documents enhance the text while the overall design invites the reader to sit and read a while. The inclusion of source notes, web sites, and an index make this book invaluable to middle school biography collections.

McClintock, Nora
Masked
Secrets and lies swirl around a convenience store one frightening day. Daniel is a secret shopper, going from store to store judging everything from cleanliness to service. He approaches the owner, Mr. Marelli, who eyes him warily, as he asks to use the bathroom. Rosie Marelli is planning a daring escape with her boyfriend because her dad is trying to control her life and because of the other secret that she's desperate to keep until she is well away from him. Everything is going along with both Daniel's and Rosie's plans until a masked man enters the store holding a gun. What happens in the coming minutes is both shocking and terribly sad. One life is ruined, the others are changed forever and all because of Lies and Secrets.

Masked is another in the Orca collection of high/low, edgy books. McClintock does a fair job telling the story concisely (it's only 108 pages) without losing the suspenseful edge. There's not much character development and they seem very one-dimensional. There is not enough time to tell the full back story and the book suffers a bit from that. Still, for reluctant readers, it's enough to draw them in and keep them turning the pages until the very end. Actually, the ending is probably the most unbelievable part of the whole story.


MacColl, Michaela
Prisoners of the Palace
In 1836, young Liza was ready to embark on her new life in London. She was preparing to debut into society when tragedy struck. Her parents were killed in a carriage accident leaving her not just an orphan but with tremendous debt. Her family solicitor recommended her to Baroness Lehzen, confidant of the Princess Victoria, to be her ladies maid. She accepts the position because she is determined to pay her debts but she has no idea what she is getting herself into. There is a pecking order below-stairs and great scheming above and Victoria is caught right in the middle. Sir John Conroy and her mother the Duchess are trying to worm their way into the palace on Victoria's skirt; Conroy as her financial adviser, in control of all of her money and her mother as her regent. Victoria would be a puppet queen. Together, Liza and Victoria must navigate the intrigues, determine whom to trust, and maybe find love along the way.

MaColl has certainly done her research! She brought the young princess to life and made her real. Even the fictitious characters have an air of authenticity because they were based on people who actually lived. Scattered throughout the story are excerpts from Victoria's own diaries, which are fascinating to read. The romance is sweet and subtle so as to not distract from the overall story. Even though the ending is known (it's history, after all), it was great fun watching Conroy and the Duchess get their just deserts!!! The author provides an extensive "Author's Note" that explains the history behind the characters, including the fictional ones and how she created them. The ending was a little too like A Little Princess but still very satisfying. I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves a good intrigue!


McCormack, Patricia
Cut
6-8
Contemporary
After the track meet was over, she just kept on running, passed the crowd, cheers, cars and houses until she reached her own. She went into the kitchen where it happened…the first of many times… “a perfect, straight line of blood bloomed…” and she felt something, finally. Callie, a 15-year-old is in deep trouble. Her self-inflicted cuts are soon discovered and she is sent to Sea Pines, a residential treatment facility. Somewhere along the line she stopped talking. They aren’t even sure what to do with her at Sea Pines. She sits and listens to the other girls in group therapy and begins to be drawn out of her closed, safe world. It makes her afraid but she discovers that feeling afraid is better than not feeling anything.
Self-inflicted cutting is an alarming trend in young women today. It is such bazaar act that most of us don’t know what to do about it. McCormick deals with the characters involved with sensitivity and understanding. She gives us a glimpse into the lives of these girls and why they are cutters, anorexics, compulsive eaters or drug addicts without making it into a movie plot. As the story ends, the reader is left with the feeling that, while there’s a long road ahead, healing has begun.


McDanile, Lurlene

Breathless

He is beautiful...perfect form and balance on the diving board high above the pool. His body launches from the platform, tight and controlled, flawless. The crowd roars its approval. Out of the pool, he is just as controlled, just as flawless; a beautiful girlfriend who adores him; a little sister who worships him; a best friend who would do anything for him. Then comes the day at the lake. He climbs the cliff, walks to the edge, ready to jump. When he does, his leg just breaks...before he hits the water. At the hospital the uglies word in the human language is spoken. Cancer. Travis' perfect life suddenly falls apart. There are endless treatments, his leg is amputated, the cancer goes away then returns with a vengence and the pain is unbearable. He wants the control back. He doesn't want the cancer to rule his coming and his going so he devises a plan. The only question is whether I will help him. He asks, I argue, plead, beg. It's unbecoming but I love him and don't want him to go.

This is a powerful and painful book to read. You want to find out what happens but you're afraid of the words on the next page. The ending comes and it's surprising and, though you know how, you will never know who. Have a box of tissues beside you when you read this extraordinary story!

McDonald, Joyce
Shades of Simon Gray
6-8
Suspense, Ghosts
Strange things are happening in the small town of Liberty Tree. The population of peepers, tiny frogs, has exploded into plague-like numbers. They cover every surface and their shrill voices are loud enough to disturb even the residents of a graveyard. The weather is freakish as well. One day it’s a broiling 85 degrees and the next there snow covers everything in a blanket of white. Even at the local high school, geeks are accepted into the popular crowd and poor students are suddenly getting grades that are good enough to get them accepted into prestigious universities.
Simon Gray, a computer geek, heads home one evening and skids, headlong, into the towns landmark, the Liberty Tree. Most townsfolk blame the peepers whose squashed bodies made the road very slick but there are a few who wonder whether it was an accident and others who are scared stiff of something. Simon is the only one unconcerned. He is in a coma to the outside world but Simon finds himself outside of his body walking around the town but most often ending up by the Liberty Tree where he wonders what it is that he can’t remember.
This was a somewhat confusing book. It begins with a flashback to 100 years in the past, telling the story of the town’s infamous murderer who was hanged on the Liberty Tree. You don’t hear about that story again until much later in the book, at which point, it only muddles the story. The teens involved in the modern day crime, do not suffer any consequences at all, aside from not getting into the college they want. I was rather upset by this but it is true that teens often get away with computer crime but I’m not sure that this is the kind of story we want to encourage. What starts out as an excellent story (I also really liked the title; it was intriguing), ends rather disappointingly.

McGann, Oisin
Daylight Runner
Ice covers the earth completely. Survivors of the ice age live in communities built to sustain life but many of them have been destroyed. Ash Harbor, however, is different from the rest. It's protected under a huge dome and is controlled by the Machine. Lately, though, mysterious messages have been appearing on video screens and the number of fatal accidents are on the rise. There are whisperings of the machine failing, of government and company officials covering things up. Clockworkers are an elite force who operate above the law and who are charged with keeping order. Sol Wheat, a teen whose main intereste is boxing, suddenly finds himself a target of the Clockworkers after he uncovers information that points to the possibility that the accidental deaths are not, in fact, accidents at all and that the Machine may not be as invincible as people might think.

This is a thrilling, futuristic adventure with as many twists and turns as any good roller coaster. All of the characters, main and supporting, are fully fleshed out and believable. The science is functional and the possible reality of the setting is frightening. Those who enjoy non-stop action as well as a well-told story shouldn't miss this one.

McKillip, Patricia
Alphabet of Thorn
7 & 8
Fantasy
Libraries are a place of words, secrets, and knowledge. Nepenthe is a foundling who was taken in by the kindly librarians and trained to translate books and manuscripts that come to the library from all over the kingdom. One such manuscript defies translation and is sent on to the library. The moment Nepenthe opens the cover, the book speaks to her soul. The letters look like thorny brambles that only untangle at her touch. She becomes obsessed and her obsession will lead to a confrontation of past and present and future. She holds the fate of the kingdom in her hands. When the time comes, what will her choice be?
All of the elements of a classic fairytale are woven into this story. Destiny, magic, passion, love, greed, all play roles as the story unwinds. It was delightful. Only the vague transitions between time and place were a mite confusing but anyone adept at reading fantasy stories should find the rhythm of it fairly easily.

McKinley, Robin
Chalice
Marisol spends most of her time in the company of bees that truly seem to know her and love her. As a result, her honey is the best in all of Willowlands. The earth speaks to her and she responds by taking care of its trees and creatures. The concerns of those who govern, Master, Chalice and their Circle, have little to do with her simple life. That is until a cataclismic tragedy changes everything. The Master is rumored to be wild and reckless and his Chalice seems to be unable to bind him to the Circle and the earthlines they care for. During one of his riotous parties, the Master and his Chalice are killed in a raging fire. There are no heirs to take over so the Willowlands is thrown into utter chaos. The only blood-relative left of the Master's family is his younger brother who was sent to become a priest of Fire. The only problem is that, after having lain in Fire for seven years, he is no longer quite human. During all this, Marisol has been struggling with her own problems; her bee hives are literally overflowing with honey, her goats are bursting with more milk than she has containers for, but when the Circle comes to claim her as the new Chalice, she has no choice but to go. Her land and, as it turns out, her Master, depend on it.

Robin McKinley's long awaited new novel (long, at least, for her fans) has ended with another wonderful fantasy novel. As with her earlier works, The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown and others, she has created a captivating setting, complex and endearing characters, and a story sure to draw in any lover of fantasy.

McKinley, Robin
Pegasus
Sylvi is turning twelve and the thing she has been looking forward to all of her young life is about to happen. She will be bound to her own Pegasus! Thousands of years earlier, the first humans to find the beautiful, green valley defeated the terrible beasts that had plagued the Pegasi for generations. To honor that feat, the Pegasi and humans formed an alliance, part of which is that each human royal will be bound, magically, to a pegasi. The two species have great difficulty communicating but have formed a stilted sign language that can only be learned by great magicians who serve as translators or Speakers. There are a list of rules a mile long about the relationship and behavior between the human and his or her Pegasus. On her binding day, all those rules go right out of the window when Ebon speaks directly into Sylvi's mind and she not only hears but talks back, as though they were speaking in person. This miracle turns everything the two species have ever known on its ear but, not everyone is glad of it. Suspicions rise and soon Ebon and Sylvi may have to face a horrible truth...maybe there's a reason that their two peoples cannot easily communicate and maybe it means destruction for all.

After a rather rambling beginning, the story of this magical alliance becomes a riveting page-turner! In recent years, McKinley has taken to using parenthesis and over-long descriptions to a new high, making her prose a little overwrought. She reigns it back in, however, and gets back to what she does best...tells stories of magic and myth as if they were a reality television show. The ending is a most excellent and most annoying cliff hanger. The next installment is due out in 2012...waiting, waiting, waiting. Fans of her earlier work will want to add this one to their reading list (just get past the first couple of chapters...it gets REALLY good, I promise!!!).

McMann, Lisa
Wake
Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real, so frightening that you just couldn't wake from it? Now imagine that it's not even your dream. That's Janie's life, at least since she was 8-years-old and fell into an old man's dream that he was giving his presentation to his colleagues in his underwear. Most dreams are innocuous...the dream of falling, playing/speaking in front of a crowd buck-naked, the usual. Sometimes, though, there are the nightmares where monsters seem real and there's no escape. Janie can't control the dreams. She can't help, even when they plead for her to. When others sleep, Janie is sucked into their dreams. This makes for a very tired girl and there's no one to help her. Her mother is barely conscious most of the time (drink), her father isn't in the picture (unknown), and no one would believe her anyway. Or would they. One night she dreams and suddenly something changes. The boy in the dream wakes, fully aware that she's seen something, something he'd rather keep hidden. She has to learn to control it before it destroys her and the only chance she might have at falling in love.

This was a bizarre book but intriguing, as well. It was an interesting twist on the dream-walking concept. The characters are mostly believable and the dream situations are wild, disjointed and frightening, just as dreams are. Some of the adults are not fleshed out particularly well but teens will be as intrigued as I was with the dream walking.

McNamee, Graham
Acceleration
8th & up
Contemporary Fiction
"The feel of the soft, worn leather makes me cringe---feels too much like skin." This is the thought that Duncan has when he finds the journal. His job working in the lost and found of the subway is boring him nearly to tears. There's no sun, no trees, no windows but the temperature, even on the hottest day, is cool, which is the only perk. The journal is one of many lost books that has found its way here but its pages hold the secrets of a murderer in training. Duncan tries to turn it in to the police but they shrug it off, like it was something he had created for fun. He decides to enlist the help of his friend Vinny to find try to find the guy himself. They research serial killers and apply what they learn to what they read in the journal. They find his "comfort zone" and Duncan even spots one of his potential victims, just as she is described in the journal. They have become stalkers but will their efforts thwart the murderer?
This is a tightly written, ripped-from-the-headlines story. At times, terrifying, at times, funny. The teens are portrayed realistically and some of their exchanges with each other are quite humorous, but always there's the undercurrent of foreboding. The resolution is neat but not so much so as to take away from the intensity of the story. This would be a great story for those teens who like to read about true crime.

McNamee, Graham
Bone Chiller
Do you believe in Bigfoot? The Abominable Snowman? No? I used to be right with you...they're the stuff of legends, stories to tell around the campfire. That is until I was attacked by something I can't even believe myself! Worst of all, it bit me and now my body is changing but into what, I don't know.

Danny and his dad moved to a very small, cold town in Canada. There's a military base in town so many of the residents are connected to it. That includes Ash, a very beautiful and very tough girl who knocks Danny flat the very first time she meets him...literally! Danny was challenged to a boxing match at the local gym he'd been working out in and his opponent came out swinging and clocked him so hard he saw stars. They've been friends ever since but, lately, it seems like something different, something exciting might be happening! Danny's other two friends, brothers Pike and Howie, round out Danny's circle of friends. One night, they are heading home from an intense evening of teenage rebellion when Danny hears something following him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it attacks. The creature is like nothing he's ever seen before. It's ghastly white, hairless with teeth long and deadly-sharp. It's an impossible creature yet there it is. Weirdly, it lets him live but only after stinging his hand. The following morning, he's almost convinced himself that it was an hallucination...until he sees the small blue mark on the back of his hand and snaps pictures of it's tracks in the dirt. Things only get more distressing from there. His friend Howie is attacked, as well, and the teens go into full-on fighting mode. They can't let themselves be taken like centuries of other young people have been but it's only a matter of time before that creature comes for them.

Graham McNamee takes a slight detour from his contemporary thriller stories to delve into myth and legend. He does carry over this intensity and thrill of the hunt to his newest book. The characters are well developed and very interesting. Pike's sadistic bent is tempered by his love for his brother. Creating such a character, who is both likable and terrifying, is no easy task! Danny, himself, is pretty interesting. He doesn't seem to be overly intimidated by Ash, who is a very strong and independent girl. Some of the action at the end of the book does stretch believability...still explosives always liven up any tale, right?

McNeal, Laura & Tom
Crushed
7-9
Contemporary Fiction
"Something definitely happening," Audrey writes in the margin of her notebook on the day that a new and very good looking boy named Wickham Hill joins her class. Audrey and her three best friends are somewhat nerdy in their new high school, which is why what happens next is so amazing. Wickham notices her; not only notices her but asks her for a study date, then another dinner date. Audrey is so excited about this new relationship that she really doesn't pay attention to what's going on around her until everything falls apart and it's too late. When the dust settles, she finds friends in unlikely places and enemies where she least expects.
The McNeals use a deft hand and spot-on teenage voices to tell this tale of pain and resilience. The excitement and frustration is almost palpable and the ending is most satisfying, though forgiveness is given a little too quickly. If you're a fan of chick lit or just a good story, this is the book for you.
McNeal, Laura & Tom
Zipped
8th & up
Contemporary Fiction
"File not found" the second worst phrase to appear on a computer screen. Mick has deleted the rough draft of his term paper and is in a panic to find it. He searches through all the files on the computer but doesn't find it. What he does find, though, sends him reeling. Sexy email messages to and from his stepmother, Nora, are in the trash file and they are not to and from his father. Instantly, the stepmother he loves becomes enemy number 1 but he can't bring himself to tell his father nor can he confront Nora. So he sets out to find who her lover is. On the up-side, other parts of his life are looking better. Lisa, the object of his unrequited affection, seems to be interested in him. He has a summer job. He meets a college girl who has begun to call and email him. Still, the pall of Nora's affair is coloring everything a shade darker and Mick has got to figure out what he's going to do with what he knows.
There's a lot going on in this young adult novel but all of the situations are smoothly blended into one cohesive tale. The ending is not entirely realistic and a bit too sappy, but a happy ending in a young adult book is a good thing, every once in a while.

MacPhail, Catherine
Dark Waters
6th - 8th
Contemporary,Ghosts
The McCann name is synonymous with trouble and Col is just one link in a long family chain of hellions. His father had been killed while driving a getaway car during a robbery. His older brother Mungo was carrying on the tradition with a vengeance. Even for Col, his name meant that whenever there was trouble at school, he was the most likely suspect. On a cold, winter morning Col skips school to go to the loch, the place he goes for peace and quiet. Suddenly, his reverie is disrupted by a young boy venturing out onto the partially frozen waters, despite the sign posted all around warning of thin ice. When the ice breaks, plunging Dominic into the icy loch, Col reacts before thinking and saves him, nearly killing himself in the process. When he awakens in the hospital, he finds that he is a hero and people treat him differently. Soon after the ordeal, Col begins to have nightmares about something he saw in the loch, something hiding at the edge of his memory, something that terrifies him. As more and more pieces begin to surface, Col is forced to face some ugly truths about his beloved brother. Somehow he must reconcile his loyalty to his family and his ever increasing desire to do what is right.
This action-packed story is a definite page-turner! McPhail is Scottish, which comes through in the characters dialect but it does not disrupt the flow of the story. One of the characters turns out to be something rather unexpected, which makes the story a bit difficult to swallow, but for the most part, it's a wonderful story of a family struggling through major changes.


McClintock, Norah

Taken

It's been all over the news...two teenage girls disappeared, one was found buried in a shallow grave. Parents are worried and become overly protective. Steph, like many of her friends, isn't particularly concerned. She doesn't think it could happen to her. She's walking home one evening, after turning down her best friend's offer of a ride home. She stops, deciding whether to take a short cut through the meadow or go the long way around, that's safer. She's tired and hungry so she opts for the short cut. Moments after she enters the field, arms grab her up, a hand covers her mouth and a pin prick makes her world go black. It's happened to her and now, she's alone, hogtied in a cabin in the middle of the woods with only the meager survival skills she learned from her grandfather during a brief summer visit.

This book had great potential as a first rate thriller but quickly runs out of steam. The many openings for there to be more tension and suspense pass by, leaving a sense of disappointment. The kidnapper is uncovered without much fanfare or terror and the real killer is never caught. What a shame that this supposedly high interest/low reading level book misses the mark. These kinds of thrillers can really grab hold of reluctant readers.


Mead, Richelle
Vampire Academy (book 1)
Rose is half human and half vampire and is a guardian-in-training. She is assigned to Lissa, the last member of a powerful vampire family. They attend St. Vladimir's Academy, where things have gotten rather hairy lately. To protect her best friend from perceived dangers, Rose runs away with Lissa. They have managed to live safely for two years before they are caught and returned to the academy where they have to face not only the consequences of their actions but also the everday problems of being teenagers. The dangers they ran away from are very real, however, and mean life or death to one or both girls.

These books are a bit darker than the P.C. Cast vampire series. The suspense is often palpable, as is the budding romance between Rose and another guardian (but not as graphically described). While one mystery is revealed by the end of the book, a few more blossom to take it's place and keep you coming back for more. I'd recommend this series to older teens who enjoy vampire stories, which are wildly popular, right now. The series continues with Frostbite, which is also quite good.

Meloy, Colin
Wildwood
Once upon a time there was a girl who had a little brother. One ordinary day they were playing at the park and a murder of crows swooped down and snatched the little boy, carrying him far away into the Impassible Woods. The girl gave chase and found herself in a strange forest accompanied by an uninvited school mate. The two searched and searched but were soon attacked by a band of coyotes and separated. The boy was taken to the Dowager Duchess, and evil but sweet-talking woman bent on total domination of the wood. The girl was taken to the Governor Regent, a man also trying to control things well beyond his sphere of influence. Together but separately, the boy and girl work tirelessly to find the baby brother and, in the process, become embroiled in an epic battle between good, less good and down-right evil.

What a fantastic and imaginative story! At first, Meloy seemed to be telling yet another story of girl-meets tyranny-vanquishes tyranny and lives happily ever after. Okay, that does happen but it's what happens in between that's so fascinating. The characters are a combination of humans and animals with good and not so good in both species. Prue (the girl) and Curtis (the boy) are likeable, if a little naive, at times. Some of the situations seem to be just a bit too glossed over, like Curtis' decision to stay in the wood and what happens to his family. Female fans of adventure will love Prue's strength and determination. Boys will like how Curtis starts the story as something of a nerdy kid but evolves into a rather brave young man. The drawings by Carson Ellis (think The Mysterious Benedict Society) add spark to the imagination! I highly recommend this one!

Melling, O. R.
The Hunter's Moon
6th - 8th
Contemporary, fantasy
Since childhood, Gwen and Findabhair have shared an fascination with all things fairy. When Gwen arrived in Ireland for a summer of fun and backpacking, the last thing she expects is to be caught up in the magical web of Faerie. While sleeping in the forbidden grave mound of Tara, Findabhair is kidnapped by the King of Faerie. Gwen, who has always been a follower, is forced to be on her own, make decisions and try to get her cousin back. With friends she meets along the way, she faces a battle the likes of which she's never seen before and hopes never to see again.
Anyone who is into Irish legend and folklore would enjoy this romp through the veil between faerie and earth. There were instances where the characters didn't ring true and the circumstances felt contrived but all in all, it was an entertaining read.

Meyer, Kai
The Water Mirror
6th - 8th
Fantasy, Adventure
Magic and Venice are often used in the same sentence, though not the way you and I think. Magic is an everyday occurance. There are magic mirrors and magical beings like mermaids and flying stone lions. Merle is an orphan who is about to begin a new life as an apprentice to one of the magical mirror makers but she gets far more than she bargained for. Venice is under siege by the Egyptian Pharaoh and his mummy army. The only thing standing between the Venetians and total destruction is the Flowing Queen but nobody knows who she is or how she will protect them. Merle's real adventure and destiny are at hand but is she strong and brave enough to see it through.
Everyone loves a good cliffhanger. Television producers and authors hang their hats on them but usually they are kind enough to leave us hanging safely on solid ground at the edge of the cliff. Meyer's new fantasy leaves you dangling from a branch hundred of feet above the ground! No part of the story was resolved. The whole thing was just one long beginning...a wonderfully intriguing beginning, however. I just hope the next book comes out before my arms get tired of hanging on!
Mikaelsen, Ben
Touching Spirit Bear
7-9
Contemporary
Cole is a young man full of anger, rage and even hate. He has been in and out of trouble for fighting for many years. His father is an alcoholic with a bad temper and his mother is afraid of him. Enter Peter Driscoll, Cole’s latest victim. Peter turns Cole in after he’d bragged about breaking in and destroying a hardware store. Cole cornered Peter outside of school and began beating him. His rage took over and he lost control, hitting Peter in the face and finally smashing his head into the sidewalk. Peter was gravely injured and had to endure many months of physical therapy. This vicious attack was the last straw for Cole but his parole officer saw something in him and approached him and his parents about trying Circle of Justice, a “healing form of justice practiced by native cultures for thousands of years”. It involved spending time alone on an island with supplies and regular checks by the keepers. There is little chance for escape as it would require a long swim through freezing water to get to the mainland.
This is an excellent book about a boy finally breaking through the rage that has held him captive for so long and to finally find out and come to terms with why he’s so very angry. It is not at all an easy book to read. It is emotionally draining but rewarding as the parties involved do actually come to realistic terms with one another. Mikaelsen does not wrap up the story in a happily-ever-after sort of way but it is believable and the Circle of Justice makes an interesting alternative to jail. This is another of my favorite books.

Miles, Elizabeth
Fury
Em and Gabby have been best friends forever. They compliment each other...Gabby brings in a little free-spirited fun into Em's life and Em gives Gabby a dash of stability and common sense. Nothing could ever break them apart, right? Wrong. Zach is Gabby's boyfriend and Em can't seem to get him out of her mind. When Gabby goes away for the Christmas holiday, things get heated. Chase is from the poor side of the tracks. He lives in a trailer with his single mom and tries desperately to seem like everyone else in his wealthy high school. Fitting in often means doing things that you regret later, cruel things that make you hate yourself. The problem is that those things have a way of catching up with you and biting you pretty hard. When three mysterious and beautiful girls show up in town, both Em and Chase are caught up in a slow dance with fate and sometimes, fate can be deadly.

Miles pulls the Furies from mythology and plunks them down right in the middle of high school. What better place for them than the drama-filled halls where mole hills become Mt. Everest with one well placed word or picture! The story, itself, is fairly predictable and the characters somewhat one dimensional. Still, it's an interesting glimpse into the minds of teenagers and how they think. There are even some great talking points like how the Furies see things in only black and white with no compassion filters at all or how gray areas exist and affect the decision making processes. It's a great chick lit novel with a little more meat on its bones than most.

Miranda, Megan
Fracture
"Eleven minutes might as well be eternity under water. It only take three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And the, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs. Death is possible at five minutes. Probably at seven. Definite at ten. Decker pulled me out at eleven." What happens then is a miracle or, maybe not. Delaney is different after her near-death, her she-should-be-dead experience. She gets these weird sensations inside of her. She can't ignore them but they lead to more trouble...one by the name of Troy, a new boy who claims to "know" her. What he knows creeps her out, especially after she figures out what he's really doing at the retirement home and what he was doing in her hospital room just before she woke. Can she pull away from him and ignore the increasingly strong sensations she's getting? If not, she may pay the ultimate price...again.

What a creepy story! The brain is an amazing thing and Miranda builds Delaney's story on the fact that we know so little about it. The teen characters are well-drawn and believable, if slightly stereotypical. Delaney's the girl next door to the boy she's grown up with but doesn't recognize when the friendship changes into something else. The other friends drop into and out of the story but are surprisingly fully formed and interesting. There are a few places where one must suspend disbelief, especially the ending. Still, it's a great thriller that will keep teens turning the pages, once you get it into their hands.

Moredun, P. R.
The World of Eldaterra: The Dragon Conspiracy
6-8
Fantasy
1895 - Police Officer Corrick investigates the gruesome and bazaar murders of several woman. He relentlessly pursues meager clues and stumbles onto a reality too astounding to believe. His actions will change the course of all things to come.
1910 - James Kinghorn is walking on the beach and discovers an entrance into another world where magic is real and the forces of good and evil are struggling for control over the kingdom, Eldaterra. James chooses to help the forces of good and embarks on a quest to save Eldaterra, and his own world. He discovers a terrible conspiracy that is at the heart of the struggle and was begun 15 years earlier. If this evil is not eradicated, both worlds will plunge into unimaginable chaos.

Mourlevat,Jean-Claude
Winter's End
In the best of times, orphanages are never wonderful places. For four teenagers, theirs are more like prisons. One fateful night, they escape. Three of them make it to a safe haven where a secret resistance movement has begun. Unbeknown to them, they discover that they were imprisoned in the "boarding schools" because their parents had been resistance fighters before them. There they discover that one voice has the power to unite a beaten down people to fight for freedom but not without loss and pain. As the movement gains momentum, the three teens must also try to save their friend who is captured and forced to compete in a deadly game for the amusement of those who rule society; those the freedom fighters are battling against. Their enemies are great in number theirs is a powerful will to win but is it enough or will they end up as their parents did...martyrs for the cause. (review of an uncorrected proof...the book is due out November 10, 2009)

This is a vividly descriptive story of the struggle against oppression. The author uses a deft hand in his characterization. The teens are mostly believable, though occasionally a little one dimensional. However, the action and suspense will be more than enough to draw in the reader and keep the pages turning.

Muchamore, Robert
Cherub: The Recruit
The CHERUB organization has been in existence since the 1950s. The operatives are highly trained experts in espionage and information gathering. They infiltrate terrorist organizations, they hack into computers to investigate anything that poses a threat to the world and they are all under the age of seventeen! For years, criminals have used children to commit crimes because no one would suspect a child. Now, the government has turned the tables and these kids are some of the most skilled operatives in their arsenal. James is a little boy lost. He has his own issues and gets into trouble because of them. He is also a math genius who can figure out complex mathematical equations in his head in a matter of moments. When his mother dies, he is recruited from the half-way house in which he's been living. The basic training is the hardest thing he's ever done in his life and survival means that he's going to have to face that which he fears most.

In the vein of Alex Rider and Spy High, Cherub is the latest in the children-as-spies genre and is really well done. There is a cast of characters who are well developed. The missions on which they are sent are realistic. It is not a gadget-driven plot, unlike the Alex Rider books. The author is British so some of the slang terms may need sorting out but that won't detract from the action and storytelling. None of the characters are perfect and readers will relate to many of their shortcomings. I highly recommend this series to fans of the genre as well as those looking for a good, action-packed adventure.

Mull, Brandon
Beyonders: A world without heroes
There are many, many ways to enter into another world...swirling portals, magical mirrors, mists. Jason, however, has discovered the most bizarre. He fell into a hippo, a water horse, and ended up in a world ruled by a malicious man who rules with fear and intimidation. Maldor defeats his opposition by imprisoning them in the lap of luxury where they are spoiled with luscious food and drink until their desire to fight drains away or they eat themselves into oblivion. Those who continue to resist, hide away, waiting for a hero to take up the battle. Jason and a fellow interloper, Rachel, now embark on a perilous quest to find a secret but powerful word that legend says will unmake Maldor. Danger is inevitable; failure inconceivable; getting home, doubtful. Still, neither Jason nor Rachel can just sit around and accept defeat. Whether they intended it or not, they must step into the mantle of "Hero".

Brandon Mull is an exceptional story teller. Beyonders is packed with action, intriguing characters, believable plot and setting. Readers will find themselves identifying with Jason and Rachel, as they must decide what to do now that they are stuck in Lyrian with no way to get home. Fans of fantasy/adventure tales will truly enjoy this most excellent title!

Mullin, Mike
Ashfall
Finally, Alex has the house to himself...a hard-won battle between him and his mother. His mother's parting comment will replay in his head for a long time to come, "Why do you have to fight me on absolutely everything?" He's just settling in for some serious World of Warcraft when the internet goes out then a cracking noise, like a thousand trees splitting, and the floor tilts sending Alex sprawling across the room. He is trapped in a small space between all of his furniture. The smoke and heat coming from all around him gets him moving in a hurry. Finally outside, his neighbors, Darren and Joe, bring him into their house. It's not over yet, though...the rest of the day is a study in hell. Explosions so loud and constant that nothing else can be heard. When they can all hear again, they find out that the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park has erupted, sending tons of ash and rock thousands of miles. This eruption make Mount St. Helens look like a baby's burp! The world around them has changed so completely that it's like being on another planet. Even the people are different, more violent and frightening. After a particularly gruesome attack by a couple of thugs looking for food and water, Alex decides that he needs to find his family so he sets off on a terrifying trek during which Alex must face his fears and be braver and stronger than he ever thought possible.

This is like a prequel to a dystopian novel! Imagine what would happen if that volcano, which is about 34 miles across, were to actually erupt. For more that 100 miles around the actual volcano, everything would be obliterated, no survivors. The entire United States would be engulfed in an ash cloud so thick it would change the weather for months, possibly years to come. The rest of the world's weather would also be affected, as would the food supply. The U.S. exports about 20% of the world's grains. It would certainly qualify as a catastrophic event that would cause the survivors to have to reorganize, one of the main components of a dystopian novel. Alex's journey was one of the most brutal events I've read about. Unfortunately, it's also probably a tru depiction of what would happen to people after such an event. Mullin wrapped up the ending in such a way that does not lend itself to a sequel, unless he decides to send Alex out to look for his parents, which would be a repeat trip.

Myer, Edward
Storyteller
Once upon a time...; Long ago and far away...; Once there lived a beautiful princess...Some of the best stories begin with these words. This is the story of Jack who was born to tell stories. They just bubble out of him like the air he breaths. He was the son of farmers in a small village but soon realized that he was meant for a different kind of life. His calling was as a storyteller. At 17, he set off to seek his fortune. Jack's story included many amazing characters; among them, a talking bird, the queen of a forest kingdom, a beautiful but gloomy princess and her evil younger brother. All of these characters have stories of their own to tell. So curl up in your favorite chair with a mug of something warm and prepare to enter into this twining, weaving, dazzling tale of Jack Storyteller and his amazing journey.

Edward Meyer is a powerful storyteller, himself. The tale he weaves is as intricate and captivating as any I've read. His obvious love of words and all the things they can tell you draw you into his story within a story. If you are a fan of fantasy, stories and love, this books should go at the top of your reading list!

Myers, Walter Dean
Shooter
8 & up
Contemporary fiction
"Cameron is a good-looking young man, neatly dressed, of medium to dark complexion. He seems reasonably comfortable and no more nervous than would be expected under the circumstances. A letter informing Cameron of his Miranda rights was drafted, signed by him and put on file. The initial taped interview began at 10:30 on the morning... This was six months after the incident at the high school." So begins the story of three teenagers on a downward spiral toward tragedy. Told via reports from different adults in charge of the case, the psychologist, sheriff, an FBI agent, all of whom spoke to the two surviving teens about what lead up to the deadly shooting.
Myers is a master at telling the chillingly realistic stories that we see on the news everyday. While the content is nothing new or earth shattering, it is well told and in an interesting format, similar to his book Monster. Some of the story is repetitive because each of the students was involved in the same incidents but it does work because each saw it or felt differently about it. I'd recommend this one to older readers who like true-crime type novels.


*= Mature Readers Only