editing disabled


Tanner, Lian
Museum of Thieves
Jewel; the name brings to mind shiny, beautiful things but the city of Jewel is anything but. The Blessed Guardians are in control and they rule with an iron fist. They are in charge of the children and, until they turn 18, they are chained to one another and live under the watchful, cruel eyes of the Guardians. The Protector, the true if ineffective ruler of the city has passed a new law proclaiming freedom for all children beginning at the age of twelve. Goldie is the going to be the first to have her bonds cut but, just before the scissors slice her bond, a bomb explodes and the Fugelman, leader of the Blessed Guardians, rescinds the new law. Goldie just can't stand the idea of staying chained even one more second so she cuts her bonds and runs. A little voice inside of her head leads her to the mysterious Museum of Dunt. She joins a young boy named Toadspit as they explore and try to understand the secrets the building holds. All museums are keepers of things but this one is also a keeper of horrors, war, violence. It's constantly shifting rooms imprison all of these things so that they are not released into the world and destroy it. The Fugelman, however, has other plans for the powers hidden for centuries and it's up to Goldie and Toadspit to stop him before it's too late.
What an intriguing premise...a building that physically changes to protect itself! The museum is nearly as much a character as Goldie or Toadspit. They are the central characters and are cleverly portrayed. It's a mystery why Toadspit is so angry

Thal, Lilli
Moltovia has been at war for as long as anyone can remember. When peace finally seems at hand, the kingdom is overjoyed and no one more so than Prince Florin. He is summoned to stand beside his father at a banquet celebrating the signing of the peace treaty with neighboring Vinland. Upon arrival, however, he is met with betrayal. There is no peace and his father has been imprisoned and will remain so until he signs over his kingdom. Florin suffers his own torment when he is given over to the court jester, Mimus, as an apprentice. He is to spend what's left of his life making a fool of himself. Vengeance burns inside of him and hatred is his constant companion. He longs to save his father, his kingdom and his life but he is only a boy. What can he possibly do?
Thal applies a deft had to this medieval story of adventure and betrayal. The characters are well rounded, for the most part. Florin is not a simpering, helpless prince, as royalty are often portrayed. His love for his father and country and his deep faith captivate the readers imagination and heart. Thal, already an award-winning author in her native Germany, is sure to join the ranks of prized authors here, as well. I highly recommend this one.

Taylor, Laini
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Everyone makes wishes...tossing a coin into a fountain, wishing upon a star, breaking a wishbone. Everyone also knows that the wishes are more about hope than reality. Karou, however, has a completely different take on wishing because only she knows that wishes do, actually, come true, as long as you have the right tools. Karou is an amazing artist, constantly sketching people, buildings, monsters. Her hair is the bright blue of the gem stone lapis lazuli and she runs errands for Brimstone, a creature that the rest of the world knows nothing about and would run in terror if he were ever seen. But who is she, really? There's always been some mystery the Brimstone has kept from her but soon, her world will collapse around her and no amount of wishing will bring it back.

Laini Taylor is a young but accomplished author of young adult fantasy. Her latest character may have inspired her own choice of hair color (think teeth-jarring fuchsia). The characters seem a bit older than their years but teens will identify with the perennial themes of not belonging, a purpose for living, and finding love. Karou is a strong female character who takes matters into her own hands, when she has to. The secondary characters are fully fleshed out and add their own flavor to the story. I highly recommend this to fans of Susan Cooper, Cassandra Clare, and Kristen Cashore. It's a terrifically fantastical mash-up of fairy tales, mythology and angels vs demons!
Taylor, Laini

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer

Magpie Windwitch is not your average faerie. She is a hunter. Along with her crow friends she hunts the world for devils that have been let out of their sealed glass prisons by unsuspecting humans. The devils were imprisoned by the Djinn kings of old after the wars. Late one afternoon the clan comes across an abandoned boat floating in the middle of the ocean. The only thing left of it's owners are their shoes. The bottle they find, however, is different than all the others. The seal is of the great Djinn King Magruwen. What is this ancient evil? The Blackbringer loosed upon the world means darkness and the unmaking of every living thing. With the help of some unlikely allies, this quest to defeat this terrible thing will take Magpie to places she's never been and only dreamed of. But will determination and bravery be enough?

This was an imaginative and unique fantasy tale. But what can you expect from an author with neon pink hair! For fantasy lovers, this series is going to be a must read!

Tinti, Hannah
The Good Thief
Ren, so named because of the letters R-E-N embroidered on the collar of his shirt when he was left at the orphanage, is missing his left hand. Its loss and how he came to be left at St. Anthony's is a mystery that he's been trying to solve all of his life. One day something amazing happens. A man, Benjamin Nab, appears at the door, searching for his long lost brother; he would be about 12, dark hair, and...missing his left hand! It is a very convincing story he tells the old monk in charge of the boys and Ren is released to him. At first, Ren is over the moon about the prospect of a family but soon, he begins to wonder if Benjamin is really who he claims to be and the life he leads is full of rough characters, swindlers, and grave robbers. The deeper into this life Ren is pulled the more mysteries there are to solve.

High adventure, creepy mysteries, and crazy folk abound in this historical novel. Definitely not for reluctant readers, this story is best suited to avid readers of historical adventure. There are quite a few story lines and characters that get a little confusing, at times. Still, I enjoyed this tall tale that ends rather HAPPILY, IF LOUDLY!

Tolan, Stephanie
Flight of the raven
Contemporary, Suspense
“Lies, her father had said. Of course. The government always lied, and the media were controlled by the government. She knew that. She’d always known it. But which were the lies?” Amber does not live the life of an average teenager. It all changed when her mother was killed by the police during a peaceful demonstration then covered up. Not long after, her angry, disillusioned father founded the Free Mountain Militia. The missions that the militia took on, had gotten increasingly violent. The latest was the bombing of a bridge where 183 people were killed and Amber struggles with who to turn to for the truth. When her father returns from this latest mission, he has brought with him a hostage. Elijah is a runaway from Laurel Mountain mental institution that the men found hiding in the woods. He lives inside of his head where it’s safe. He is not crazy, as most people think. He and several other children were part of an experimental group who had developed very specialized skills. The experiment had been abandoned and the children ended up in Laurel Mountain. Elijah’s abilities eventually earn him a place with this violent group, whether he likes it or not.
Tolan tells a disturbing story from a terrorist’s point of view. Throughout the story, the reader begins to understand what makes some people join the militant groups. At times, you actually find yourself sympathizing with Amber’s father, the charismatic alpha-male of the group. There is an element of science fiction with Elijah’s character, who was the focus of and earlier book, Welcome to the Ark. This was an excellent, fast paced book whose small size might attract some reluctant, older teen readers but I would not recommend this book to anyone younger than 8th grade.

Tolan, Stephanie
The face in the mirror
Contemporary, Suspense
Jared's life is about to be changed forever and he's none too excited about it! His grandfather, with whom he's been living with had a stroke and can no longer take care of him. His mother is an aspiring actress (and has been for many years) and doesn't want the responsibility which is why he's living with his grandfather in the first place. The only option left is to live with the father he's never met and worse, he has a younger half-brother, Tad, who turns out to be a royal pest. His father is a famous actor in a theater company which Jared will be joining. They will be performing Richard III in a small town theater. The theater has been restored to it's former glory and rumors of ghosts abound. No one believes in ghosts, least of all Jared, until some very strange things begin to happen that no one can deny.
Tolan tells a fantastic story full of intrigue, sensitivity and good, old-fashioned creepiness! This story is not just about ghosts and the theater, though. It tells of a young boy's survival skills and the tenacity it takes to have one's life turned topsy-turvy and still be able to stand on your own two feel. It's a well crafted and believable story (no, ghosts are not real, I don't think).

Treggiari, Jo
Ashes, Ashes
New York, land of sky scrapers and concrete is now a series of islands and the towering buildings are gigantic mounds of rubble. Massive natural disasters had changed the face of the earth and devastated the population. What didn't die in the first waves and quakes were left vulnerable when the plague came and took out an even larger number of people. Lucy miraculously survived it all without much more than scrapes and bruises. Now, her home is what used to be Central Park. She hunts small game and eats whatever she can find with only a survival book to guide her. While out foraging one afternoon, she is cornered by a pack of wild dogs and is saved by a boy named Aidan. When the danger is over, he invites her to join the small group of survivors that have set up something of a commune not far away. At first she is reluctant to join a "society" again. It's much easier to survive on her own but, when a tsunami destroys her home, she is forced to seek shelter there. Where there should be safety in numbers, Lucy manages to find danger, or rather the danger seem to find her. Sweepers descend on the settlement every so often, taking survivors away, never to be seen again. One very strange day, two of the taken return. Neither says much about what happened to them...one because he was infected with the plague and the other is just plain evasive. This changes everything. Aidan and Lucy need to find out what is going on but the danger that awaits them is worse than they can imagine...it's Lucy they really want. She is special and nothing is going to stop them until they have her.

Ashes, Ashes joins the popular trend toward futuristic, dystopian stories that have been published of late. It does stand out, however, because of the excellent character development mixed with fantastic storytelling. I also like the fact that the hero is a girl and she's one tough cookie! Treggiari really does an excellent job with the secondary characters, though. They help flesh out the story and move it along at a break-neck speed. The action is bone-shaking and compels you to keep reading to find out what's going to happen next. The only negative is the ending. It's not wrapped up neatly enough to end the story properly but neither does the ending seem to lend itself to sequels. Still, it's a great read, for fans of books like Hunger Games and The Maze Runner.

Trent, Tiffany
In the Serpent's coils
Corrine is plagued with dreams of fairies and menacing figures all warning her of perils to come. When she is sent to live at Falston Manor, a boarding school for wayward girls, she hopes that the dreams will stop but, instead the creature in her dream become more disturbing and dangerous. Soon Corrine realizes that fairies and witches area very real and girls at the school begin to disappear. The teachers at Falston seem to know more than they let on and several of the students seem to be hiding something. Corrine struggles, alone, with her dreams, no knowing who to trust but fully aware that something awful is coming.
Tiffany Trent definitely has a bead on the pulse of teenage girls. The book's female characters are interesting, complex and strong. Her writing style leaves a little to be desired but teen girls looking for a fantasy series with just a touch of suspense and romance, will find lots to enjoy.

Trent, Tiffany
The Unnaturalists
Vespa Nyx has always been fascinated with the unnatural things housed in the Museum of Unnatural History. All she wants in life is to work there as a cataloger, keeping track of all the specimens that come into the museum. That is not to be, however. Her father, as the head of the museum, is not a wealthy man and is dependent upon her to marry well and care for him and her aunt in their old age. It's a big responsibility and one she does not like but dare not shirk. All that changes, however, when 2 things happen: her carriage is attacked by highway men and she is rescued by a Tinker boy and his family. Syrus decides to take from her a jade frog, which is all she has left of her mother. Then, days later, a young Pendant working at the museum, saves her from certain death and reveals to her that she is a witch, full of great power! All three young people are on a mission to save something. Syrus wants to save his people and the Unnaturals who are dependent upon one another. Hal, the young museum worker, is trying to uncover a plot to destroy the Unnaturals and, therefore, much of the world. Vespa's quest is to return the Heart of Everything to it's rightful place. Together they may have the power to do all three!

Tiffany Trent delivers a wonderful steampunk-ish tale of magic and machine and a near-impossible quest. The dark, atmospheric setting of Victorian London serves well the sinister story. The Unnatural creatures come straight from daydream and nightmare stories of old. The teenaged characters are charismatic and authentic in their dealings with each other and the magical elements around them. It's always interesting to read stories where magic and science co-exist because, as any scientist worth his microscope will tell you, the two are often inseparable. Fans of steampunk, fantasy and science fiction will definitely devour this one!


Updale, Eleanor
Johnny Swanson
Johnny Swanson is many things...student, son, and a criminal. His life of crime began in retaliation of being scammed by a false advertisement. To recoup the money he'd spent, he decided to scam some folks, himself. It worked better than he could have imagined and caused a good bit of trouble along the way before his criminal behavior was uncovered and ended up saving the day. One evening, Johnny and his mum, Winnie, had a HUGE row and she went off for a walk to cool off. That very night, Giles Langford, the local, recently retired doctor was murdered. Johnny's mum had been seen loitering around the house a number of times. Later, when the body was discovered, Winnie's apron was found soaked in the good doctor's blood and she was arrested. Now, both mother and son are criminals but only one of them is guilty. Follow along as clues are revealed the the killer is shockingly revealed.

Updale, of Montmorency fame, has followed up with another charming murder mystery. It was a great story, once the murder actually happened. My only gripe is that there's just so much going on, besides the murder! There's a tuberculosis outbreak, bullying at school and by one particularly nasty adult, and Johnny's nefarious dealings with newspaper advertisements...all before anyone actually dies. Granted, Ms. Updale does, eventually, tie up most of those loose ends and Johnny is our hero but it seemed a long time before you got to the point of the whole book...the murder mystery. Still, it was an easy read and very entertaining, though I, personally, would have liked for something nasty to have happened to old Miss Dangerfield.
Updale, Eleanor
Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman
Historical fiction/Mystery
The glass ceiling shatters, as does his body. He should be dead but a young, enterprising doctor saves him and reconstructs his body. He is left with a web of scars and a prison sentence. The doctor uses him as a showcase for new surgical procedures. He spends his time during these lectures, learning everything he can about this class of people and hatching a plan to become one of them. Upon his release, he sets the plan in motion and becomes two people, Scarper the thief and Montmorency, the gentleman that the thief supports. He must be so very careful because getting caught is not an option. Both of his lives would be hanging from the business end of a rope until dead.
What an intriguing twist on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde formula! One man becoming two people with two separate identities and lifestyles, criminal and upstanding. Eleanor Updale has aptly captured the suspense and harrowing burglaries while setting up for the next installment. The story is reminiscent of Artemis Fowl, the young, criminal mastermind who begins to feel kindness toward others through his experiences. I'm looking forward to reading more about Montmorency and his development from thief to gentleman and just how far Updale is going to take him.

Updale, Eleanor
Montgmorency and the Assassins
7 & up
Historical, Mystery
Having left his criminal life behind, Montmorency is now a mysterious, wealthy eccentric who solves mysteries for a living. He and George Fox-Selwyn are called in when an equally eccentric naturalist reports the theft of several rare specimens. They find themselves in Florence, Italy up to their ears in luxury and their quarry found. But, what starts out as a simple mission turns dangerous when political intrigue interferes and they are drawn into the fray to try and stop the anarchist who are intent upon spreading terror and death around the world.
Eleanor Updale draws readers further into the mystery that is Montmorency with such skill that we gladly heft the 400 + page tome. Intrigue abounds, love is in the air and the death of someone dear makes the story one you just can't put down. She also brings in some very interesting, historical aspects, like Thomas Edison's discovery that X-rays may be dangerous, if not handled properly. It all makes for a wonderful tale!


Valentine, Jenny
Me the Missing and the Dead
What happens when someone goes missing? When a person dies, you know where they are...at least corporeally. You either buried them or cremated them...so underground, in the wind or in an urn. But missing? You know nothing for sure. Lucas' dad went missing five years earlier. Just gone...no note, no word, nothing. Lately, Lucas has taken to wearing his father's clothing, which is difficult for his mother. She calls him a walking shrine. One day, he's meeting his friend Ed and doesn't feel like walking or taking the Tube so he walks into a cab office to get a ride. On a shelf, looking completely out of place, is a beautiful urn. The owner of the cab company tells him that someone left the urn and it's formerly living occupant on the seat of one of his cabs. After leaving the office, Lucas cannot get the thought of Violet (the name on the urn) off his mind. He schemes with his grandmother to rescue her, a decision that will unlock more secrets than Lucas is ready to handle.
I was hooked after the first few pages. Imagine, finding an abandoned urn in a dingy place...what mysteries might it hold? Who was the person inside and how could someone just leave it on the seat of a cab? All these questions kept me turning the pages to see what would happen. Valentine managed to make me feel as thought I was discovering the clues right along with Lucas, instead of way ahead of him. It's a neat trick and one you don't always see. I recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Acceleration or books by Gail Giles.

Valentino, Serena
Fairest of All
How do evil people become so? Are they born bad or created? Sometimes the evil evolves over time and because of outside influences. Take the story of Snow White. Once upon a time, the Queen, her stepmother, loved her dearly and doted upon her. Snow was her little bird and they picnicked together, took long walks with the king and laughter reigned. Then tragedy struck and the king was killed. In her grief, the Queen let old insecurities seep into this new wound and it changed her, warped her so that the sought out that which used to frighten her...the mirrors created by her father, a man twisted with rage. Soon, the Queen's craving of the slave's assurances that she was the most "the fairest in all the land" were all-consuming and a blackness pushed out all that was once good, including her love for Snow White. Replacing love was a fierce jealousy, fueled by the mirror's observation that Snow White, now a young woman, was the fairest of all. The downward spiral spins toward a juicy, irresistible, red apple and a sleeper that can only be awakened by the first sweet kiss of love.

It's difficult to imagine feeling sorry for so evil a character but Valentino's portrayal of the Queen is masterful. For much of the book, she is a woman damaged by her father's abuse but healed by the love of her husband and stepdaughter. Even as the change in her evolves, you still can't help but hope that she will turn away from the path toward evil and when she doesn't, the feeling of sadness and loss is palpable. Unfortunately, the ending comes too quickly. Even though everyone knows that Snow is awakened by a kiss, it would have been nice to have had a bit more of a resolution of her story. The final words, however, are chilling. Still, it's a fantastic tale and a fairly short read. The cover, by the way is perfect!

Vance, Susanna
Two girls are brought together by extraordinary circumstances that change their lives. One girl, Birdie, is the asthmatic only child of doting parents about to embark on the family trip of a lifetime... a year in the Caribbean. The other, Morgan, is the only surviving child of free-spirited parents who set sail 17 years earlier to travel the world.
Upon arriving in St. Martins, Birdie and her parents are befriended by a young, handsome Aussie yachtsman, who is not what he seems. Morgan has abandoned her parents who have become alcoholics after the death of their oldest daughter and is sailing alone. The two are captured by a madman and must help each other survive the most frightening experience that either has ever been through.
In alternating chapters, Birdie and Morgan tell an exciting and dangerous story of murder, kidnapping and theft. Vance manages to keep the story gripping without being too terrifying. This is a great young adult mystery!

Vande Velde, Vivian
Heir Apparent
Sci Fi, Suspense
It's a game, it's just a game, right??? Giannine got a gift certificate for her favorite game center. Virtual Reality games are all the rage. You are hooked up to electrodes which feed the information you need to play the game directly to your brain. You feel, smell, taste, and see the world of the game. In Heir Apparent, she entered a world where the king has just died and the player is a long, lost, illegitimate child that the king named as his heir. In order to win, you have to be crowned. Easy, right? Yes, unless the game is sabotaged by lunatics claiming to want to "protect" children. Giannine has little more than an hour to win the game before something horrible happens. She has been give a few clues by the owner/creator of the game but other than that, she's on her own to make the right decisions.
What an exciting and unusual mix of fantasy and it's offspring, science fiction!!! Vande Velde has been a great contributor to the fantasy genre and she continues the tradition with this thought-provoking novel. The characters, even the virtual ones, are well drawn and the choices that the main character makes are inventive and interesting. It is, most certainly, a page-turner! The only negative part of the book is the ending, which is a bit contrived, but it does end well and humorously. I highly recommend this one!

Vande Velde, Vivian
The Book of Mordred
7 & up
Historical, Fantasy
False knight, turncoat, hero, courageous. Which of these best describes Mordred, illegitimate son of King Arthur? Well, that depends upon who is doing the describing. Alayna, widow of a wizard and mother to a young sorceress is in distress when she meets Mordred. Her daughter Keira has been kidnapped. When Mordred risks life and limb to save them both, he is a hero. Nimue, a sorceress and Merlin's lover, turns to him when her village is attacked by knights and all of the young, handsome boys are stolen away. Mordred's courage saves the day, though not Nimue. Through the eyes of those who love him, we see a very different side of this mysterious man.
Vivian Vande Velde turns many Arthurian legends on their respective ears in this dramatic tale. Merlin barely factors into the story. Nimue is seen as a sympathetic character rather than the sorceress who ensnared Merlin. Mordred is seen as a man of strength and integrity, though his motives for doing his good deeds remains suspect. It is always interesting when an author turns the tables on historical or legendary figures. Vande Velde has cast more shadows onto Arthurian lore and done it very well.

Vande Velde, Vivian
It is a strange and tragic day. The tragedy: A child is stolen from its mother, carried away, the villagers believe, by the witch living in the woods. The strange: a 12-year-old girl runs through the forest, lost, alone and with no memory of who she is or where she came from. Six years earlier, a similar tragedy occurred. A six-year-old girl was lost and presumed stolen, as well. Could this mysterious girl be the missing child, Isabelle? The parents seem convinced, the old, rich aunt becomes convinced, neighbors are willing to believe; only one person seems to know for sure that the girl is not Isabelle.

Vivian Vande Velde is a master storyteller, weaving an intricate web of lies, half-truths, twists and turns all leading to astonishing ending that uncoveres all mysteries. The motivations of the characters are nearly as important as the characters themselves. Some are innocent, others are sinister and all want something from the young girl caught in the middle.

Venkatraman, Padma
Climbing the Stairs
World War II has begun but it seems very far away to Vidya, a 15-year-old girl living in British-occupied India. Vidya dreams of going to college. Her doting father has promised not to marry her off until she has completed university. Her father is a doctor but is also, secretly, a freedom fighter, patching up protesters who are hurt by British officers. When tragedy strikes, she and her family must move into her uncle's very traditional home. Vidya's life changes forever. Gone is the possibility of college. She is treated like a lowly servant, constantly picked on by the other women in the house. But, she discovers a refuge in her grandfather's library where she reads as many books as she can get her hands on. It is there she meets Raman, a handsome young man and distant relative. He treats her with respect and talks to her as an equal, just as her father had. When it becomes clear that Raman wants more than just friendship, Vidya is torn. She doesn't want to be just a wife and mother. She wants to become a doctor like her father had been but she cares for Raman, as well. Finding the balance between desire and duty will be her greatest challenge yet.

Set with the exquisite colors of India as a backdrop, Venkatraman has created a powerful tale of loss, love, and freedom that will immediately captivate readers. Vidya is a strong, empathetic character whose struggle against stifling tradition provides the emotionally charged interactions with the secondary characters. The author's deft had shows the unfair treatment of the British towards the Indians total without condemnation. All of the characters and situations are well-wrought and engaging and the dash of romance is endearing. For fans of historical fiction or romance, this is a must-read!


Wallace, Rich
Contemporary, Ghosts
Herbie has taken on a lot in the past few weeks. He’s decided that he’s going to play two sports in one season just because his coach said he’d “wimp out on the first day” of either football or cross-country. He is out late one night running through a graveyard when he feels someone following him. He slows to look but sees nothing. This feeling of being followed stays with him for the rest of his run and makes him more than a little uneasy but also a little intrigued. He begins to make his run through the cemetery a regular thing and each time his experiences with this presence become more intense. One evening he actually sees the young man who’s been following him but instead of flesh and bone making contact with him, the man seems to materialize out of thin air and touches him for only an instant then he is gone. Each night afterward, Herbie senses, and on occasion, see other spirits, including that of his older brother, Frank, who died when Herbie was young. Herbie, Frank and the ghost of Eamon, the original spirit he encountered, are intertwined in their search for understanding of each one’s experiences in life and in death and how to move on from them.
This story was a bit tricky to follow. The narrator of the story is revealed, eventually, as the spirit of Herbie’s older brother Frank but his first-person narrative seems to complicate the story line. The jump between the three story lines is very abrupt but shouldn’t be a problem for students who are fans of ghost or fantasy stories. Still, ghostly encounters are very popular with teenagers and I’d recommend this one to high school aged teens, due to smattering of curse words and the complexity of the various story lines.

Walsh, Pat
The Crowfield Curse
William has lived at Crowfield Abbey ever since the rest of his family died in a horrible fire. Early one morning as he is gathering firewood, he hears an injured creature keening in pain. The creature is like nothing Will has ever seen before but it's distress at being caught in a cruel trap is something he cannot ignore. Amazingly, it speaks to him explaining that he is a hobgoblin or hob for short. Will takes him back to the abbey knowing that his friend Brother Snail will be able to help. As he recuperates, the magical creature tells a story of an ancient being that was killed and buried outside of the abbey more than 100 years ago, a being that has attracted the attention of the Dark King of the unseelie court. When two mysterious visitors arrive at the abbey gates, Will's life becomes more interesting but vastly more dangerous. The world of old magic hovers in the mists and fills the forest all around him and Will must figure out who to trust or be destroyed along with everything he knows.

Pat Walsh's first novel promises more fantastical stories to come. Her characters are compelling and the mixing of Christian and pagan mythology is fascinating. Her writing style is geared toward middle school students but the story would interest even older fans of fantasy stories. A mystical setting exudes an eeriness that makes the hackles rise just in the reading. The ending is quite satisfactory, leaving enough room for a sequel but, if one is not planned, wraps up the story lines neatly. I, for one, hope there will be more stories about Will and his new destiny!

Ward, David
Escape the Mask
Coriko has survived several nights in prison cells where water rushes in, hard and cold, to cleanse the prisoners who are either new to the Grasslands or who are being punished. One night, newcomers are led into the caves and two speak his language. He is drawn to them and tells them what to expect and how to survive the First Cleansing. Once released, Tia and Bran will bring with them changes in Coriko's life with his cell mate, Pippa, the only family he's ever known. Soon the slaves begin to notice other changes. The Spears, their prison guards, seem frightened of something. Routine's change, lives are lost and others are set free as violence rocks their once orderly life and Coriko, Pippa, Tia and Bran must learn to be strong, strong enough to survive the upheaval of everything they've known.

This first book of a trilogy leave a bit to be desired. The mythology or back story was not well fleshed out and left too many holes. The cover suggests a mighty battle but the characters don't really see much actual fighting so those who judge it by it's cover will be disappointed if they expect a great battle book. The main characters are pretty well drawn and very interesting but they don't get to shine, in this very slim volume. Still, for reluctant readers and those looking for a "short" book, it will work pretty well.

Wilson, Diane Lee
Raven Speak

Warman, Jessica
Katie dives into the pool, the water swallowing her and the rest of the world just washes away. The water is her escape and she has a lot of reasons to need to get away. Her father is a psychiatrist who works all the time; her mother is an artist who drinks all the time and her older brother is fighting a battle against schizophrenia. It's a battle he's losing. As his violence escalates, Katie's parents send her away to a boarding school. Things are different here. She has friends, a budding relationship with the captain of the boys swim team, and the very real possibility of going to Yale after graduation. All of it, however, is built on a lie. A lie that begins to crumble under the weight of an unthinkable act.

Warman writes a desperately authentic story about mental illness and its effects on everyone around it. The characters and their struggles are very real. Occasionally, however, one or two of the characters seem a bit stereotyped but the strength of the storyteller more than carries these shortfalls. This is an intense story that fans of contemporary fiction should not miss.

Wasserman, Robin
What happens when you die? Usually, your body is buried, cremated, or donated to science and your soul? That's debatable. Lia is in her car when a transport truck malfunctions and slams into her. Her body is broken beyond saving so her father made a decision for her that will change her forever, literally. He has her downloaded into another Lia-ish body. Her memories, her essence are are there only, they're not completely part of her. No one knows her any more. She doesn't need to eat, sleep, breath or any of the other functions that make us human. She's a machine and she's lost everything. Sometimes Lia thinks it would have been better to die, to be remembered as she was rather than ignored or scorned as she is. Desperately, she clings to the idea that she's still Lia but she is challenged by a group of mech-heads like her. They have accepted and even embraced what they are and they are dangerous. Lia is drawn and repulsed by them but will she be able to resist before she becomes dangerous to those humans she cares about?

This story is loaded to the gills with discussion topics. It's a fascinating look at what makes us human. The possibilities of regeneration, cloning, and artificial intelligence are tempered with morality, the existence of the soul and the frailty of the human spirit and body. Those readers who liked Peter Dickinson's Eva will devour this book.

Wealer, Sara Bennett
Do you really ever know your friends? Do they really know you? Does anyone really care? Brooke and Kathryn have only one thing in common...opera and the desire to sing sing it. Otherwise, they are polar opposites. Brooke is the daughter of a famous singer and an actor who is alone most of the time, now that her older twin brothers are off at university. Those two older brothers gifted her with popularity beyond belief; popularity = power in high school. Kathryn is a shy but very beautiful girl whose best friend is Matt, a slightly geeky boy she's known her whole life. When the two girls finally meet, each feels a very strong connection with the other. Friendship with Brooke brings things into Kathryn's life she's never experienced before; Parties, lots of friends, handsome boys...it's almost overwhelming. Kathryn introduces Brooke to what a functional, happy family looks like. Soon, however, a rivalry begins between them. Brooke's friends accept Kathryn just a little too quickly. Boys pay attention to Kathryn's natural and unassuming beauty. The Honors Choir director gives Kathryn a solo. One night at a party, things explode. With one punch, their friendship is destroyed and the true rivalry begins.

Oh my, what an amazing book! Normally, I'm not all that into girly books (yes, I am aware that I am a girl and a girly one, at that), but this one goes far beyond your average Chick Lit. These two girls are complicated. Their families, personalities, and motivations are as varied as the opinions others have about them. Their absolute love of music, particularly opera, just adds another texture to the tale. Arias aside, teenagers will identify with their passion for their craft and their desire to fit in (Kathryn) or be loved (Brooke). Wealer expertly builds the tension so gradually that you almost don't realized that you are being pushed onward to the heart-wrenching climax and the sweet, believable resolution. Each chapter begins with a musical term and definition that lets you know, just in case you missed it, what part of the story you are about to read. Fans of contemporary fiction and/or Chick lit, either teen or adult, should definitely check this one out!!!

Weatherly, Lee
Child X
Jules’ life is pretty typical. Marty, her best friend, and she chatter together after class and try to avoid gross guys like Adrian Benton. They stick together through teasing and crushes. They even audition for parts in a play based on their favorite book, Northern Lights (a.k.a. The Golden Compass). Then, not so suddenly, her world falls apart. Her father has left her and her mother! Sure they fight, like most parents do but this is different. Photographers appear around every corner snapping her photo and the whispering she hears all around her is maddening but no one will tell her what’s going on. It becomes apparent, one day, when she and Marty read the front page of the news paper and find answers that only lead to more questions, painful ones.

This first novel is an excellent example of reality-based fiction. Weatherly has created each character with thoughtful precision and compassion. The reader feels the frustration and anger toward the press and the parents while feeling intense sympathy for Jules. You are drawn into the melee with small clues as to what’s really going on but it’s not until the very end when the mystery is fully resolved. This is a book that I highly recommend!

Weaver, Will
Checkered Flag Cheater
It's a strange thing seeing your face two stories tall. Trace Bonham is still getting used to being the face of Team Blu Racing. Off the track, giggling girls ask him for his autograph, many offering much more. On the track, though, things are tougher. He blows away the competition every time he gets behind the wheel and at the end of every race the tech guys ask to check his engine because no on has ever seen a stock car run so fast. Eventually, Trace begins to wonder if it's his skill as a driver or something more. There's a lot at stake, as Trace contemplates his choices; does he continue racing, not knowing if it's his skill or a modified engine or quit and risk not finding another sponsor. He's dreamed of racing for most of his life and has worked hard to get where he is but will he sell his soul to keep it?

Will Weaver is an excellent young adult author who has a personal passion for racing. He owns his own Modified cars and races on a team in the upper Midwest. As a result, the action on the track and the lingo used to describe it is authentic and ratchets up the excitement, making you almost feel the thunder of the cars under your seat. Anyone, boy or girl, who's an action junkie will love these stand-alone books from the Motor Novels series (Super Stock Rookie, Saturday Night Dirt). A word of warning though...I'd recommend this book for 9th grade an up because of some sexual innuendo.

Weeks, Sarah
So B. It
Heidi is not your average girl. She has a lucky streak that has her winning grocery money from the slot machine at the Sudsy Duds Laundromat in Reno. She lives with her severely mentally disabled mother and neighbor Bernadette, who suffers from agoraphobia. Things have always gone along fairly smoothly but soon, Heidi is not satisfied not knowing about her past. She becomes obsessed with finding our about her mother, her family and one of her mother's 24 words...soof. Is it a name? Is it a place? Finding the answers sends Heidi on a journey to learn the truth and uncover the secrets of her past.
This is an excellent story of a girl desperate to find out who she is and where she's from. It is also a 2008-2009 Georgia Book Award Nominee.

Wein, Elizabeth E.
A Coalition of Lions
8th & up
Historical fiction
She, alone, is left. The battle has taken her father and brothers and her aunt wants her dead as well. Her only option is to seek sanctuary from her betrothed and heir to the British throne, Constantine, who is the current British ambassador to African Aksum. She is accompanied on her harrowing escape by Priamos, who is the Aksum ambassador to Britain. When they arrive, they discover that Aksum is embroiled in political unrest, as well and Constantine is right in the middle of it. In a time when women have no power, no rights and no independence, Goewin struggles to make her own way and help both her beloved Britain and Aksum, the place where her love, not her betrothed, resides.
Elizabeth Wein perfectly evokes sixth-century Africa, it's people and turbulent political intrigues. You will recognize familiar Arthurian names and situations woven into the story, which follows her previous title, The Winter Prince. For fans of Arthurian legend, this would be an interesting addition!

Wells, Robison
Benson has been in the foster care system since he was five and has lived in 33 different homes! Life has not been good. All that seems to change, however, when he applies for and receives a scholarship to an exclusive private school, Maxfield Academy. Things might just be looking up, he thinks as Ms. Vaughn drives him up the long road leading the the school. It looks like he imagined it would...Ivy covered walls, big windows. As he gets out of the car, he notices students in those windows banging on them. Assuming they're just saying hello, he waves. A young, pretty girl meets him and introduces herself as his guide, Becky. Once inside, Benson picks up on a weird vibe from Becky. It isn't long before he learns that there are no teachers at the school, no adults at all, really. The students have divided themselves up into groups, Havoc, Society and Variant. They have created a pseudo-social order which is based on rules given them by The School. Break them and you get sent to detention...no one has ever returned from detention. Benson has only 2 choices: stay and conform or escape and probably die.

Think Lord of the Flies meets Big Brother and you'll come close to what this book is all about. The School is practically a character in the book. It seems to have thoughts, give orders and watch the students all the time. The students themselves are fairly typical teens; there's the rebel, the good girl, the best friend and arch enemies. The author does a pretty good job of mixing things up and throwing in some pretty good twists and turns and not a few red herrings. The only issue I had with the book was the ending. It was too abrupt and didn't make any sense at all...unless there's going to be a sequel but I don't know where it would go. Still, those readers who enjoy action-packed plots, suspense and general mayhem, should definitely read this one.

Werlin, Nancy
Black Mirror
8th & up
Suspense, Contemporary
Do you know what it feels like to not belong anywhere? To be between rich and poor; Asian and Jewish; life and death? Frances is caught in just such a place. She has some Asian features, dark hair, almond shaped eyes, tiny frame, and some Caucasian family features, large chest, straight nose (her grandmother’s) and small waist. She hates to look into mirrors because of her mismatched features and for a time, she won’t have to. Her brother Daniel has died of a heroine overdose so, as is the Jewish tradition, all mirrors are covered with the black cloth of mourning while the family sits shiv-ah. Daniel used to be her best friend until they received a scholarship to attend an exclusive private school. They began to drift apart when he joined a service club called Unity. Frances had refused to join but after his death, she decided that she wanted to get to know the brother she had lost even before he died. But she soon discovers that something is not quite right about Unity and it’s young founder, Patrick Leyden. The more involved she becomes, the more danger she encounters. Did her brother really commit suicide or was it something more? The suspense is palpable and keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the last chapter when all is revealed.
The real culprit seems a bit unreal in that the thoughts and motives don’t seem to fit with the average teenager. But it is an excellent story of being different and coming to terms with that difference and seeing it as uniqueness, special.

Werlin, Nancy
The Killer’s Cousin
8th & up
Suspense, Contemporary
David, recently tried and acquitted of murder, has moved to Massachusetts to start a new life. He is living with his aunt, uncle and very strange cousin who turn out to have much in common with David. Things are not comfortable or welcoming in this house. His aunt tries very hard to ignore him and his 11-year old cousin Lily is downright hostile. Very soon after his arrival, Lily’s behavior towards him begins to be more threatening. David is sure that something in this family is very wrong but who is he to talk about messed-up lives? The longer he stays, the closer he gets to the uncovering the reasons behind the mysterious behavior of Lily and the more he is forced to deal with his own issues and pain.
This story is a suspenseful thriller but also a story of self-discovery, pain and fear. As the two families begin to face them, healing can begin. The story is not wrapped up in a nice little bow where everyone lives happily ever after but the reader is given a glimpse into the lives of these two families as they tiptoe, avoid, or hide from the huge issues in their lives.

Werlin, Nancy
Locked inside
8th & up
Suspense, Contemporary
Being the daughter of a famous singer-turned-self-help author is not the easiest occupation. You just don’t fit in anywhere and people have difficulty separating you from the fame. In Marnie’s case, the situation is made much worse by the death of her famous mother, Skye. Marnie works hard to separate herself from that fame by deliberately refusing to take part in life around her. She spends hours online playing an Internet adventure game and trying to outsmart the Elf, her main rival. This separation does not offer the kind of safety that Marnie seeks, however. She is kidnapped and locked inside a basement by a woman she had begun to trust. With this imprisonment, Marnie begins a difficult journey of self-discovery with some surprising help from the Elf, her online gaming friend and a one-time enemy from school.
This is a well-written suspense novel with many twists and turns, some unexpected others comfortingly predictable. Werlin deals with the sensitive issues of being different for whatever reason and whether that’s a good thing or whether it creates more trouble that it’s worth. There are times when the story is a bit too contrived or unbelievable but as a whole, I'd recommend this book to 8th grade and above.

Westerfeld, Scott
Hostilities between Austro-Hungarians, Germans and the British are reaching a fever pitch. All three countries have formidable weapons; the Clankers have machines that look like animals and the Darwinists have animals that are cobbled together to create the ultimate war machines that live and breath. The most powerful weapon of all is a whale airship called Leviathan. Deryn would like nothing more than to fly. Her father was a balloonist killed in a horrible accident but that's not what's keeping her from joining the British Air Service. The problem is that she's a girl. This doesn't hold her back for long, though. She's a tall, lean girl and easily disguises herself as a young boy and quickly makes a name for herself. Aleksander Ferdinand has lost his parents. His father was for peace but that got him murdered and dragged the Austro-Hungarians, kicking and screaming, into battle. Alek is now on the run with the Germans and his own uncle desperate to eliminate the heir to the throne. One freezing cold night in the Alps, the Levithan is in trouble. She's been damaged by Clanker warships. Alek is hiding in a fortress near by set up by his father and Count Volger years ago, in case he ever needed it. The idea of letting all those soldiers perish is just too much for Alek so, against his adviser's wishes, he treks across the frozen glacier to bring them aid. His thanks...capture by the crew of the Leviathan. So starts a grand and dangerous adventure for two young people that changes their lives and possibly the course of the war forever.

What an amazing story! This re-imagined version of The Great War with amazing machines and animal creations is sure to please historical fiction science fiction fans alike. The second book, Behemoth is equally breathtaking. It is a planned trilogy and the third book will be out in April. READ THESE BOOKS!!!

Whelan, Gloria
See What I See
"I see my life in paintings. Right now I see my mom as a painting by the artist de Kooning, a scribbled woman, all angry eyes and open mouth with sharp teeth." Kate sees life differently from everyone else. When she paints, the rest of the world disappears and all that's left is color, paint and canvas. She's been given a scholarship to an art school in Detroit...the same city where her famous artist father lives; the father she's not seen since she was a small child; the father who has had nothing to do with her and that her mother hates with everything in her being. To her, going to school in the same city where he lives seems like a betrayal.The scholarship does not include housing so Kate decides to show up on his doorstep, thinking that he will have to let her in. The man she finds on the other side of the door is not what she expected. Reclusive artist Dalton Quinn is very sick, dying, in fact and is none too pleased that she's there. After a lot of angry words and hurt feelings, Kate and her father settle into an uncomfortable existence consisting of regular bouts of yelling and door slamming but what Kate doesn't know yet is that her life is about to change drastically and completely, for better and for worse.

This touching and painful story of a girl trying to understand her father and herself will reach through the pages and grab hold of your heart and not let go until the bitter sweet, if predictable ending. As much as you want to hate Dalton Quinn, you also must realize that he's being true to his art and himself even if he is an @#%. Kate is a strong young woman with a mind of her own but one who is not nearly so damaged as her father, even if she's inherited his talent. Thomas, Kate's sort-of love interest had his own family issues, which gave the story added depth. Fans of strong female characters and contemporary settings should definitely pick this one up!

Whitney, Kim
See You Down the Road
Contemporary fiction
Moving every few months; finding new scams to pull on unsuspecting people; never finishing a whole year of school; this is Bridget's life and not one she's sure she really wants. Her family are part of the Irish Travelers who go from town to town taking what they can and not looking back. She has been promised in marriage to Patrick already, though she is only 16. She catches glimpses of a world she can never be a part of but is desperately curious about. But no one leaves the Travelers, ever. But when she intercepts strange phone calls, she begins to wonder about that.
This is a glimpse into a world most of us know nothing about. It's a whole other culture within our own that is strange to us. Whitney deftly portrays these people and their struggles and scams. The ending is a little too neatly tied up and the sudden appearance of a lost sister is a bit contrived but it still makes for a good read! This would be a good book to use when discussing counterculture as would Kristin Randle's Breaking Rank.

Williams, Katie
The Space Between the Trees
Sixteen-year-old Evie has always been a loner. She's a bit socially awkward but is adept at fabricating stories, which gets her into trouble in this chilling tale. She has a crush on Jonah, a college dropout who makes a living clearing dead animals out of the woods behind a ritzy neighborhood. Evie has a paper route in the same area so she times her deliveries so that she can talk to him. One fateful morning, everything changes when Jonah finds a dead girl's body in the woods. Evie watches in horror, from behind a bush, as they wheel the body bag out to the waiting ambulance. The dead girl is Elizabeth, Evie's childhood friend. An off-hand remark intimating that Evie and Elizabeth are best friends puts her into an awkward position with Elizabeth's father and her real best friend, Hadley. She finds that she cannot back out of the lie but continuing with it puts Evie right in the middle of a personal vendetta to find the killer.

Young adult readers love a good thriller. Williams spins a tale of an awkward girl just trying to find her place and to feel comfortable there. The characters are interesting and some down right twisted. Hadley has some definite issues and, for a while, you're just not sure what to think about the dad or Jonah, for that matter. The ending was wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly but it's still a pretty good stories, especially for those who like Graham Macnamee's Acceleration or Gail Giles Dead Girls Don't Write Letters. The cover is really cool, as well.

Willig, Lauren
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
9 & up
Eloise has always been fascinated by the spies who worked during the Napoleonic wars...The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Purple Gentian and, her favorite, the Pink Carnation. Their identities were eventually exposed, save for the Pink Carnation. When she discovers a treasure trove of primary source information, she is beside herself. In a trunk owned by an elderly London woman, Eloise immerses herself and the stories of these spies and those around them unfold. As an added bonus, there is a modern day romance budding between Colin, the nephew of the trunk's owner and Eloise. Fans of romance will absolutely love this series which is followed by The Deception of the Emerald Ring, The Masque of the Black Tulip, and, in January 2008, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.

Wilson, Diane Lee
Raven Speak
The winder seemed unending. It began with rain that was so unrelenting that all of their crops rotted in the ground. The snow and cold wind howled constantly. Asa, the 14-year-old daughter of the chieftain, is courageous and resourceful but even she finds herself battling hopelessness. Her father and several other clansmen embark on a dangerous journey to sea in search of food. She is determined that the evil Jorgen, a seer who wants the powerful position of chieftain, have any more sway than he already does. One night he tries to kill her horse Rune as a sacrifice to the gods. Asa manages to fight him off and she and Rune flee for their lives.

Wollf, Virginia Euwer
True Beliver
9 & up
We meet up with LaVaughn again when she's fifteen and her life is more complicated than she ever imagined it could be! Her best friends, Myrtle and Annie, have become involved in a club that LaVaughn is just not ready to join. The boy who lived next door has returned and is so beautiful that when he's around, her insides feel like jelly and her knees quiver. Both of these situations cause LaVaughn no small amount of anxiety. College is still foremost in her (and her mother's) mind and she takes steps to insure this possibility but the rest of her life is just complicated and sometimes painful. She learns valuable lessons like who her real friends are and what it takes to be a real friend.
Wolff brings back the characters from her acclaimed book Make Lemonade and takes us further into their lives. She writes with sensitivity and passion. The reader is drawn into the lives of LaVaughn and her friends and we feel connected to them. The characters are very well portrayed and are believable. This is an excellent selection though some caution may be needed as the subject of homosexuality is briefly and sensitively introduced.

Wood, Maryrose

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Miss Penelope Lumley is a young orphan girl raised at the Swanburne Home for Poor Bright Females. She is fifteen, therefore, too old to stay at the home. Luckily, the headmistress spotted an advertisement for a governess that seemed tailor-made for Penelope. One of the requirements was that she be "Experienced with animals". With visions of ponies, dogs, kittens and well-behaved children swirling in her head, Miss Lumley arrived at Ashton Place. Her animal training did come in handy, in fact; just not in the way she expected. Three young children, two boys and a girl, had been found on the Ashton property living amongst wolves! They could not speak, were filthy and flea-ridden, and not at all well-behaved. Luckily for them that Miss Penelope Lumley is an extraordinary governess. At once, she rolled up her sleeves and took charge. Though she longed to converse in Latin or French or to whisk the children away with stories of distant lands first, she must eradicate their propensity toward wolf-like behavior...howling, barking and growling just won't do in polite society!

What a delightful story! In spite of the incredible speed with which the children learned to talk (just not possible for children raised this way, according to scientific studies done on actual wild children), the characters are strong and mostly realistic. Penelope is truly amazing, wise beyond her 15 years. Mrs. Ashton is appropriately vapid and Mr. Ashton is mostly absent. There is some mystery as to Mr. Ashton's absences and just who sabotaged the Christmas party and why is left for another book. Readers who enjoyed the Unfortunate books or Mary Poppins will love this book.

Wooding, Chris
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
The Old Quarter of London was once peaceful and beautiful but now is infested with horrific creatures of the night, the wych-kin. Thaniel and Cathaline are wych-hunters and armed with an uncanny sense of where these creatures lurk, they fight battle after battle with the wych-kin, trying to free their city. On patrol one night, Thaniel meets Alaizabel, a crazed, possessed but beautiful young woman. In discovering the mystery of who she is, Thaniel and Cathaline realize that there are far more sinister forces at work in the city than the wych-kin and they are the only ones who can stop them.
Wooding has crafted a mesmerizing tale full of suspense and horror. His characters are mysterious and complex yet wholly believable. Their experiences are vivid enough to get the reader's heart pumping with every turn of the page. For those who like suspense and horror stories, this is an excellent choice.

Wooding, Chris
Hey, have you heard about Malice? It's a comic book but, if you gather the certain effects, chant the right words six times, you'll be taken into Malice, the world inside the comic! What? You don't believe me? Well, just try it and see. But don't blame me when Tall Jake comes calling! Malice is very real and very terrifying, as Seth and Kady find out when their friend Luke goes missing. He told Seth about the comic and doing the ritual and all the creepy things that happened afterwards; then he disappeared. Seth and Kady will have to use all their wits and be braver than they've ever been to survive Malice...a second time!

What a deliciously creepy tale! It harkens back to those sleepovers in dark basements telling urban legends until goosebumps and the slightest noise causes much screaming. Wooding is a master at creepy, though this one doesn't make my flesh crawl like Alaizabel Cray or Poison did, however, I really loved the mixed media presentation of the story. It's part graphic novel and part prose; words and pictures painting the malicious creatures and characters. Fans of the creepy should definitely check this one out!

Wooding, Chris
8 & up
Suspense, Fantasy
Sometimes names so perfectly suit their owners that it's frightening. Poison is just such a person, at least to her family. She has always been ornery, stubborn and contrary, but particularly toward her stepmother. The one person for whom she reserves her affection is her little sister, Azalea. When she discovers that the child has been snatched by the Phaeries and replaced with a changeling, she is determined to get her back. Her quest leads her out of the only home she's ever known and into a world far beyond her wildest imagination or nightmares. She only has her cleverness and friends she meets along the way to help her face some of the most terrifying creatures in the world. When she discovers who is behind everything and why, her life and the lives of those around her are forever changed.
Wooding, again, creates a creepy and completely believable world in his latest novel. After getting over the initial prickliness of Poison's character, you begin to understand who she is and why she is the way she is. The rest of the characters are well defined and engaging. The ending is the most interesting part and catches you completely off guard. It is very Matrix-like and will take some stretching to get your mind around it!

Wood, Elizabeth
Cara Lange's life has not been the same since her parents moved her away from her best friend, Zoe. Cara is a shy loner, unnoticed in school. The only semi-social thing she does is run track. Lunches are spent avoiding the popular girls who torture her endlessly because she choked on some food in the cafeteria and Ethan, the object of her distant affection, had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her. From then on, Alexis and her gang called her "Choker" and made horrid choking noises whenever they saw her. One afternoon, though, everything changes. Zoe appears at her door seeking asylum from her family situation. Cara is elated and hides her in her room and, suddenly, her life make a turn for the better! With Zoe's help and support, Cara begins to come out of her shell a little. She gives Cara a makeover and it isn't long before there are parties and flirtations that Cara has never experienced. Not all is as it seems, though. Zoe ran away from something horrible and it seems as though the horrible has followed her. First, Alexis' BFF Sydney drowns at a drunken party at her house, which is just next door to Cara's. Then, Alexis herself, disappears and everyone connected to her is a suspect. Worst of all, Zoe has begun acting very strangely. Trust is essential in friendships but what do you do when the person you trust as much as you trust yourself turns into a stranger right in front of you?

Wood's story starts out much like any chick lit/high school bully story but, somewhere along the way, takes a turn so twisted that the ending comes as something of a surprise. It's more than a bit unrealistic, however, and as you reach the climax, you will understand what I mean. I can't say much more without giving away the ending but, if you're into twisted thrillers, this book just might fit the bill.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz
The Prince of Mist
Up for a good, CREEPY tale? The Prince of Mist will not disappoint. Mr. Carver, a watchmaker, moves his family from the city to a small coastal village to get away from the effects of WW II. From the moment of their arrival, strange things happen. The lovely home they'd bought came with a deadly tale. The young boy who lived there drowned under mysterious circumstances. Max and Alicia Carver, both resenting being uprooted. They meet Roland, the grandson of the lighthouse keeper, who has a strange story of his own, as the children soon find out.
Woodson, Jacqueline
"Hope is the thing with feathers..." For Frannie, this line from a poem takes on a life of it's own. Her brother Sean is deaf and speaks in sign. Her mother is pregnant and there are worries about it because she's lost two children before. Most difficult to deal with, however, is the new, white student nicknamed "The Jesus Boy" in her sixth grade class. She hopes so many things for herself, her family and even Jesus Boy but which ones will fly away and which ones will nest for good?

Woodson's words might be things with feathers for they float through your mind's eye, beautiful and full of light. This glimpse into the life of an African-American family is full of hope and peace, even if the time period during which it is set was short on both of those things.It's refreshing to read a story in which both parents are alive and well, no one died, and conflict was dealt with peacefully! I highly recommend this one!

Wynn-Jones, Tim
Blink & Caution
You made it to the floor without beings stopped. You looked like you belonged. Now, if you can just find some leftover food on a room service tray...anything, at this point, you're so hungry. Then you hear it; a scuffle, yelling, and three men exit a room and one of them tosses the room key away, carelessly. You pick it up and enter the abandoned room and you take the money left in the wallet and the very cool phone from the floor. Now you can buy yourself a proper meal, you think. You have no idea that you have just witnessed a major crime. Not only that, you are now linked to it because of the pictures of you from the elevator, the fingerprints you left all over the room and, dumbest of all, you answered the flashy phone. But Caution is just about to enter the picture; "Caution, as in toxic". Caution is a self-named girl on the run from so many things even she's not sure which of them will be most likely to catch her first. At first, she feels sorry for the boy, Blink. So named because he blinks his eyes like rapid fire machine guns. He seems lost and innocent. But he drags her into his drama and they both careen toward something that will change both of them...for better or worse is up in the air.

Wynn-Jones brings another tightly wrought thriller to the young adult set. Blink and Caution are both believably flawed characters, full of secrets, pain and, interestingly, hope. The chapters alternate between Blink's second person narrative and Caution's third person. Second person viewpoint is difficult to deliver but Wynn-Jones pulls it off and the use of it serves to draw the reader into Blink's mind and, therefore, the action. The suspense lags a little in places and the ending does not tie up all the loose ends as well as it could but it's still a great young adult thriller. Recommend it to those who like Carole Plum-Ucci or Graham McNamee's work. For a fantastic example of second person narritive, check out David Klass' You Don't Know Me.

Wynn-Jones, Tim
A Thief in the House of Memory
The thing about memory is that it just can't be trusted to stay put and it's not always the truth. Dec's mom has been gone for six years. His dad has moved on, his little sister doesn't even remember her, they even live in a new house just down the road from the Big House. When a would-be burglar is accidentally killed in the old house, all of his memories of his mother come flooding back with such force that it's hard to tell reality from dream. Then there are the unanswered questions...What really happened to his free-spirited mother? Why is it that no one ever talks about her? If the answers do come, will they provide closure or more pain?
Wynn-Jones applies a deft hand at this suspenseful family drama. The struggles that Declan has with the memories of his mother are realistically portrayed and his confusion is palpable. The only difficult part is that the transition between reality and memory is so seamless as to make the reader have to really pay attention but then, that's also part of why the reader feels the same things that the character does. A good reader should have no trouble with this story, though.

Wynn-Jones, Tim

The Uninvited

Mimi has issues. She had a relationship with one of her college professors and she ended it but he continues to pursue her, vigorously. When her mostly absent artist father offers her the use of a small cottage in rural Canada, she jumps at it. She and her mini Cooper find the little cottage in a small glade looking like a quaint picture postcard. It is not, however, unoccupied. There is a young, handsome musician currently in residence and he is angry, accusing her of leaving weird "gifts" for him. A snakeskin, a dead bird and a cricket sound embedded in his latest piece of music all left without a trace of the giver. Soon, both Jay and Mimi are targets for the stalker. It's a summer of mystery and discovery but will they uncover the identity of the stalker before things spiral out of control?

Tim Wynn-Jones turns out a fabulous thriller with a few family complications thrown in for spice. Much like a pebble thrown into water, the ripples caused by careless indiscretions reach far and wide. The characters are engaging and believable. The outcome is tidy but satisfying but some of the intensity is lost when one of the stalkers just quits stalking, which doesn't happen in real life very often. Recommend this to readers who like suspense thrillers.


Yolen, Jane
Girl in a Cage
Being a princess means lavish dinner parties with scrumptious food, stunning gowns, ladies-in-waiting, and jewels adorning everything. For Marjorie, daughter of Robert the Bruce of Scotland, it starts out that way but ends in a cage. Edward, King of England, does not recognize Robert's claim to the Scottish throne. Robert's family must flee if they wish to survive. They are taken captive and sent to separate places. Marjorie's cage is delivered to a small hamlet where it is place in the town's center for the villagers to gawk at. Daily she is subjected to taunts and rotten fruit and vegetables are hurled at her. She has no protection from the weather and is fed very little food. Worse than these, however, are the nearly daily visits from the very sick Edward Longshanks (so named for his unusual height). He taunts her with news of her father and uncles and tries desperately to get her to denounce them and recognize him as king. This she refuses to do and it nearly costs her life.
Jane Yolen is an excellent writer, no matter what genre she undertakes. This historical fiction story is outstanding. The chapters switch back and forth between Marjorie's memories of life before captivity and her current horrid situation. The switches are not at all confusing and the characters are extremely well defined. At then end of the book there is a section letting the reader know what parts of the story are true and what parts were "tinkered" with.

Yolen, Jane and Adam Stemple
Pay the Piper: a rock & roll fairytale
You know the story...the Pied Piper pipes a villages vermin into a watery death and when the townsfolk don't pay him his due, he does the same to the children. There is some truth in the ancient story, as 14-year-old Callie is about to find out. Her friends are simply mad about the folk-rock group Brass Rat but Callie is not entirely impress. Still, she manages to get a press pass from the school newspaper to interview the group before their concert. When she sneaks backstage after the concert is over to ask one more question, she overhears something that will change things in her small town forever.
This is an interesting twist on the Pied Piper of Hamelin written by a master story teller and her musician son. For the most part, it works and fans of fairytale-turned-novel. There is something about the story that doesn't work, though. Some of the situations and resolutions seem a bit contrived but most young adult readers will not notice since the action keeps you moving forward toward a satisfying conclusion.

Yolen, Jane
Snow in Summer
She was born during the Great Depression in West Virginia. Her father was so relieved that she and her mother made it through the birth that he agreed to her mother's frivolous naming...Snow in Summer. They called her Summer and they were happy. When Summer was seven, though, things changed drastically. Her mother and new baby brother died just days after the birth and her father, seemed to just fade away. No more did he sing to his crops to make them grow huge and healthy. Now, he spent most of his days at his wife's grave, singing only to the cold, gray headstone. Had it not been for Cousin Nancy, poor Summer would have died from neglect. When she was just twelve, things changed again. Her father came down from the cemetery with a beautiful woman; her red lips curving into a smile that never quite reached her eyes. He announced that they would marry and he looked happier than he had since before Summer's mother died. Stepmama is not what she seems and Summer has her suspicions but what can a 12-year-old do? Soon, however, Summer must make her move and claim the courage that her father could not and escape the clutches of the beguiling woman before it's too late for them all.

Jane Yolen is a master storyteller that even the Grimm brothers would be proud to claim! She fashions the Snow White story into a truly American tale with some interesting nods to its fairytale origins. The characters are quickly recognizable, even in their new setting. The West Virginia countryside during the Depression could not be more fitting for such a tale. The witch is very, very creepy and conniving. Interestingly, Yolen provides a glimpse into how she became the witch we all love to hate. The ending was a bit too quick and contrived but almost as satisfying as the traditional, "And they lived happily ever after." I highly recommend this to fans of fairy tales and fantasy of any age.

Yolen, Jane
Sword of the Rightful King
6th - 8th
"Who so pulleth out this sword of this stone is rightwise king born of all Britain" The legend is an ancient one. King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone and will forever be the rightful king...or at least that's the way most of the stories go. What if the sword was extracted in the dark of night by a small boy with many other secrets to hide? Gawen came to Cadbury in the midst of much chaos. Plots and plans were afoot, and Gawen came with some of his own. He ingratiated himself to Merlinnus, Arthur's mage and confidant, becoming his personal assistant. Being privy to royal secrets was not part of his plan but he grew to love and respect Arthur and adapted his own personal agenda to include protecting and promoting the king. In the end, it was Gawen and his secrets who surprised everyone, including himself... and so the legend is continues.
Jane Yolen is the consummate storyteller and historian. In this Arthurian legend, she adds an interesting twist to the traditional tale, which makes for a very satisfying Medieval experience. I highly recommend this one!

Young, Janet Ruth
The Babysitter Murders
Dani is a normal 17-year-old girl. She plays tennis, sings in a small choir at school and babysits a few evenings a week for Alex, an adorable 4-year-old boy. Without warning, strange and frightening thoughts begin to invade her mind. At first, she tries to ignore them but with each day comes more and more horrifying ideas: things like killing little Alex with a butcher knife or outing her best friend in front of the entire tennis team and choir. She even thinks of harming her own mother! Her anxiety at what she might do forces her to quit babysitting. Mrs. Alex is reluctant to let her go so Dani tries to explain about the things she's been thinking about. It doesn't go so well...Mrs. Alex promptly locks herself and Alex in a bathroom to call the police. This begins an even worse chapter in Dani's life as word of her confession get out to the community at large and her school mates. Once it's out, people begin to embellish the story and gossip turns ugly. The newspapers and tabloids carry the story and, worst of all, a vigilante group targets Dani, even though she's done nothing wrong! Through emails, newspaper articles and the gossip mill, Dani is labeled a child killer and hunted like an animal. How far are these people willing to go and is there any truth to what they think about her?

Young's taught thriller proves the malicious nature of humans. Mental illness is often misunderstood and those who suffer from it made to feel less than human. The author is trying to fit a very complex issue into the confines of a young adult novel. It falls a little short, however, on characterization. Dani's problems come on so suddenly that the establishment of her mental state are stunted, making it difficult to empathize with her. Her friends and family's reactions, however, are spot on. The creep factor mostly comes from a secondary character whose thoughts are inserted between chapters. Malcolm is the son of a police officer who has a seriously skewed view of the world. The title is a bit misleading...the only child murders mentioned in the story are committed by their parents and are merely news stories. Even with these weaknesses, it's a bone-chilling, cautionary tale more about the danger of gossips than about the OCD with which Dani is eventually diagnosed.

Yovanoff, Brenna
The Replacement
Mackie Doyle is not like the rest of us. He is excellent at mimicry. He lives in a small town, goes to school, has friends and a family but he is not human. Early one morning when he is a baby, he wakes to find his sister staring at the ugly, inhuman child in the crib. Emma is not afraid. She reaches into the crib and grasps his hand and hangs on for the next 16 years. Emma loves him fiercely, defensively. His best friends don't ask too many question. They just accept that he is "other". Nothing stays the same forever, though and now he is very sick. The mortal world with it's iron, blood and holy ground is slowly killing him. When another baby goes missing, suddenly all the work to make himself unnoticeable is undone. Now, he must face those creatures who are like him but not, who can save or destroy him and decide where he belongs.

Stories about changelings have been around for centuries but none have been so dark and terrifying as Yovanoff's. Each character is fully formed and believable. The horror of Mackie's situation is palpable. The anger roll off of Tate like waves in a stormy sea. Roswell's acceptance of Mackie's otherness is astounding and as natural as can be. The desperate love of his family seems to have completely changed him from "other" to mostly human. There is strong language and some sexual situations so this book is best saved for older fans of horror/fantasy.

Zadoff, Allen
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have
It's high school. There are impenetrable groups: The Jocks, The Cheerleaders, The Geeks, The Goths, etc. You can approach enemy lines but never, ever can the lines be breached...or can they? Andy Zansky, 307 lbs. of geekness has always been perfectly content to be a great student, member of the Model UN and hang with the rest of the geeks at school. But not any more. Andy met a girl at one of his mom's catering functions and, before he knew what his mouth was saying, he told her he was a jock! So, after an infamous "run" on the soccer field, which ended with him tangled in the goal and 6 guys and one pair of shorts down, he walks in to the coaches office asking to try out for the football team. As it happens, there's an opening at center just Andrew's size. The only problem is that Andy has never played football. In fact, he's never even been to a game before. And, worst of all, he suffers from chronic asthma and there's no way his over-protective mom is going to sign the permission form. With the help of an unlikely ally, in the form of the most popular, best looking quarterback, O. Douglas, Andy finds a way. Crossing the line and reinventing yourself is not all it's cracked up to be, however, and Andy has some tough lessons to learn.

Andy is a delightful, self-deprecating main character who is so well drawn, you can almost feel your waistband getting tighter. At first, his rise to fame and popularity seem unrealistic. How many times does the fat kid really end up popular in real life? That said, Zadoff is very clever in the orchestration of his meteoric rise and the characters that surround him make it real. There are also some great dysfunctional family moments, which add to the authenticity. Even the ending is perfectly wrought; upbeat but not sappy/happy. Andy finally realizes that doing the right things for the wrong reasons is just wrong all the way around.

Zusak, Markus
The Book Thief
"Here is a small fact: You are going to die." Everybody know that they are going to die. One day, Death will come calling to take your soul away. Normally, he doesn't get involved with the humans; they are not his concern but there is one human Death watches throughout her life. It was a difficult life beginning with the first time Death met her. Lisle Meminger, her mother and little brother are on a train. Her brother coughs, a sickly sound then there is silence. Lisle watches as the light goes out of his once bright eyes. It is at the funeral that she acquires a new moniker...book thief, because she steals a small book left in the snow by the grave digger. She is then delivered to her foster parents because her mother cannot take care of her any longer. Han and Rosa Huberman are an older couple whose children are grown and gone. It is the time of Hitler and his rise to power and the devastation that follows. Lisle cannot read but, once she discovers words, she is powerless to resist collecting more. Her next book theft was surrounded by fire and ash, a book rescued from burning. Her greatest temptation and conquest was the Mayor's library, where she would steal tomes with alarming regularity. Lisle is happy, even though times are tough for the small town. Soon, however, a darkness falls and things change. A man shows up in the middle of the night asking for shelter. He is a Jew and is hidden away in the basement. Each day Lisle swallows her fear and goes down to feed him and, slowly, slowly a friendship forms over words. They read together, tell stories together and hope for the best together. Air raids become more frequent and the book thief uses the gains from her thievery to help her neighbors pass the time as she reads. Death makes many trips around the world but always he knows about Lisle's life. It's not much but it's the best he can do until the day he finally comes to take her away, too.

This was one of the most powerful books I've ever read. It's not an easy one for many reasons. The narrator is Death and that's a little confusing, at first. Lisle's story is complicated; full of sorrow, joy, pain, loss, and love. The people in her life are equally complex, adding their own paths that diverge and converge to make a beautiful, sad map of life on Himmel Street. Suggest this to readers who are interested in WWII and the holocaust, though the latter is only hinted at by Death, of course.