editing disabled

Nadol, Jen
The Mark
Cassie is 4 and walking with her grandmother by a school yard full of young children. Nothing out of the ordinary except that many of the children seem to be glowing. The following day, a newspaper reports a horrible school bus accident where 12 children die. Years later, a man she sees on the bus has the same glow. Cassie decides to follow him. Several blocks later, he looks down to check the time and looks up at the squeal of tires as he is hit by a car. He dies before anyone can do anything. The mark, a glow, as if the person were standing in front of a bright light, means that person will die in the next 24 hours. It's a terrifying ability and Cassie is not sure what to do about it. One day, she walks into her grandmother's hospital room after a routine visit because of her diabetes and sees the mark on Nan. For the first time, Cassie tries to intervene, trying to convince the doctor to do more tests that she has a feeling that something bad is going to happen. The tests come back negative but the next day, Nan is dead and Cassie's life changes forever.

If you knew that someone was about to die, what would you do? Nadol explores this question in the creepiest way. The characters are well drawn. Even Nan, who is only in the first few chapters and Cassie's long dead parents are such a part of the story that their presence is felt throughout. Fans of supernatural tales will be gripped from page one and will find themselves asking the same questions Cassie asks of herself.

Napoli, Donna Jo
Beast
7th & up
Fantasy
Orasmyn, a Persian prince, is very conscious of his position and the responsibilities that come with it. He is also very arrogant, as is also typical of his station. When faced with a major decision, he chooses wrongly and draws the anger of a malevolent spirit who curses him. He becomes the beast and only the love of a human woman can free him. The familiar tale of Beauty and the Beast is told from the Beast's point of view, before he became the beast.
The cover art is fantastic and getting a glimpse of Beast before he is cursed is an interesting prospect but somehow, this story falls a bit flat. Donna Jo Napoli has told some truly wonderful re-tellings of other tales. Of course, the problem with the book could come from the fact that Robin McKinley's Beauty has ruined all other versions of this beloved tale. Not even Disney could top her!!!

Napoli, Donna Jo
Zel
7th & up
Fantasy
It's always been Zel and Mother, as long as she could remember. They lived alone on a small farm in the isolated Swiss Alps, only venturing into town twice a year for supplies. But Zel has dreams of marriage and a family of her own. Just before her twelfth birthday, Zel accompanied her mother to a village in the next valley to make purchases for her birthday celebration. While her mother is off buying her gifts, Zel meets a young nobleman who is quite taken with her and she with him. Mother is suddenly confronted by a vision of a possible future for her daughter and, in the terror of losing her, does the unspeakable. She locks Zel in a tower. Mother made a deal with the devil to have Zel who must now make a choice for herself...to be with her mother and receive great power or to be the wife and mother she's always dreamed of.
The story should sound familiar. Napoli has joined in the popular trend to take beloved fairy tales and make longer, more satisfying novels from them. Zel is short for Rapunzel and her story is one of betrayal and lost innocence. Napoli has done an excellent job drawing out details that are implied in the original fairytale. I highly recommend this one. If you like this kind of retelling, Robin McKinley is another remarkable author to read (she's actually my favorite).

Naylor, Phyllis R.
Alice alone
7th & up
Contemporary
Alice is growing up. She begins her first year of high school, her father’s gotten engaged, her brother is living at home and going to grad school, her boyfriend of 2 years is still around, life is very full. Things, however, don’t always stay the same. A new girl has captured the attention of all the boys, including her boy, Patrick. Alice starts feeling insecure about how she looks and experiences jealousy as she never has before. Life without Patrick is unimaginable. In the midst of her pain, she reaches out to one of her best friends, Elizabeth, who is behaving strangely. Eventually Elizabeth confides a dark and painful secret that has haunted her for many years. As the girls comfort one another they realize that life, with all it’s twists and turns, can only be handled with the support of true friends and the love of family.
Naylor has followed Alice through the many stages of her life. So well crafted are her stories, that her readers feel as if they have lived them as well, whether they’ve read the other Alice stories or not. In this latest installment, Alice begins the inevitable and, often, painful process of becoming an adult. Naylor handles the situations that arise with sensitivity and humor. Highly recommended!

Naylor, Phyllis R.
Blizzard's wake
7th & up
Contemporary
Kate's life had changed three years ago when her mother was killed by a drunk driver. She was filled with such anger toward the young many, Zeke, who was driving drunk and was not even injured. She just couldn't imagine ever being able to forgive him. She even imagined him dying in some tragic pain-filled way. She just couldn't seem to get back into life, to get over her loss. Even the knowledge that Zeke was in prison was no comfort. One fateful evening, their lives collided. A freak blizzard caught the town totally unaware. Kate's father and brother had been out running errands and were within sight of their house when suddenly they couldn't see 2 inches in front of them. Not long after, they heard a knock on their window and Zeke, who had been walking home from the bus station after being released early for good behavior. He was half frozen and nearly dead as they dragged him into the car, in spite of who he was. Kate's rage boiled to the surface once she rescued them and realized that he was in the car too. Would she ever be free from her anger and hatred of him?
This is an excellent story of loss and forgiveness. Naylor used an actual event, the snowstorm of March 1941 as the backdrop for this historical fiction story. The reader is drawn into each characters innermost thoughts and dreams and frustrations. I highly recommend this book.

Neilsen, Jennifer
The False Prince
Sage is an orphan eking out a living as a petty thief. He's very good at what he does. He supplements the orphanage's meager food rations with the occasional roast or turkey from the butcher. It's one of these missions that gets him into trouble, one fateful day. He is escaping from the butcher when he is tripped up by a stranger in town who saves him by paying for the roast. Instead of being grateful, Sage is defiant and is determined to make things difficult for Bevin Connor, his rescuer. As it turns out, though, it's this strength and defiance that attracts Connor's attention. He offers to take Sage into his home. To most orphans, it would be a dream come true to be adopted but Connor is not interested in being a father. His true purposes for Sage and the three other orphan boys Connor has picked up is a far darker and more dangerous than any of them imagine. On the first night, Connor shows his ruthlessness by having one of the boys killed. Witnessing the murder, the other boys are far more cooperative, for obvious reasons. Connor's dark purposes are revealed and each boy must decide his course, knowing that, in the end, only one will survive.

Neilsen has crafted a well-wrought story of intrigue, betrayal and the ultimate in secret keeping! Her cast of characters are likable and devious, Sage most of all! There are twists and turns, some of which will catch you off guard. I can't decide whether the ending will lead to a sequel but I sure hope so. I want to see how things turn out for Sage and his conspirators!

Ness, Patrick
The Knife of Never Letting Go
It's a new world and, for the most part, everything is the same as the old one except for one really annoying thing...there's a lot of noise. Everyone can hear, literally, everything you are thinking all the time. Even the animals thoughts are broadcast to anyone close enough to hear. The settlers have either adapted or been driven mad by all the voices inside their heads. In Prentisstown, Todd lives with his adopted parents, Ben and Cillian, because the germ that caused all Noise inside men's heads killed all the women. Todd is the last and youngest, waiting to become a man in less than a month. That is the time when he will undergo the highly secretive manhood ritual. One day he's in the swamp gathering apples for Ben when he experiences a hole in the noise, a place of total silence. It follows him for a while then he is discovered by Aaron, the town's preacher and who is more than a little CRAZY! He runs back home and tells Ben what's happened. That's when everything changes. Ben tells Todd that that everything he knows about this new world and Prentisstown is wrong and he has escape, go back into the swamp right now. There's even a bag already packed for him. When the men of the town come for him with weapons, Todd has no choice. In the swamp he meets the source of the Silence. Her name is Viola. Together they work their way toward the next settlement in hopes of finding safety. When they arrive, not only does Todd realize that other settlements survived, the germ does NOT kill women. They are immune to it and so their thoughts are their own. What happened to all the women in Prentisstown? Why do the settlers hate him the moment they find out where he's from? What's going to happen when the men from Prentisstown come looking for him?

Patrick Ness has written a sci fi thriller like no other! The premise is wholly original and terrifying. Imagine not being able to keep your thoughts to yourself; your dreams, your fears, your desires? Nothing is secret. The dark undertone of Prentisstown and it's men create a slightly chilling feeling. The gradual revelations Todd makes are horrifying and serve to keep the pages turning until the frenzied, harrowing, cliff-hanger of an ending. Fans of reading need to check out this trilogy. Book two, The Ask and the Answer picks up and barrels headlong into new territory.

Nicholson, William
The Wind Singer (book 1: Wind on fire trilogy)
7th & up
Fantasy
Every moment of life in Aramanth is regimented. Everyone is tested for the first time at age two and your future is set from that time on…your schooling, your job, even your family’s standing in society is affected by that score. If you misbehave in school, points are taken away from you. If you have a certain number of points taken away, your family loses points. Society is divided into sections, denoted by color determined by points. The Hath family are one of the very few who attempt rebellion. Mr. Hath procures average scores on his annual exam. Mrs. Hath tricks the examiner of her youngest child to pee on him during her first exam. The twins, Kestrel and Bowman exercise their rebellion in school when their point-count slips. Kestrel becomes angry and ends up storming out of school, closely followed by Bowman. They end up at the Wind Singer, a once beautiful tower in the center of town that had been the source of peace and harmony. It no longer worked. Kestrel, in her anger, climbed to the top and realized that it wasn’t working because a piece was missing. So begins a long journey for the Hath family and the people of Aramanth. Freedom from the regimented tyranny is on the shoulders of Kestrel and Bowman Hath.
Nicholson has written an excellent fantasy story in this first book of his trilogy. The concept is original and all of the characters are well defined and detailed. The only negative is that the ending is wrapped up so quickly that the reader is left rather incredulous and wondering how the story can sustain a second and third installment.

Nickerson, Sara
How to disappear completely and never be found
7th & up
Suspense
Everyone's family is a little strange, right? Margaret knew that her family is stranger than most. She had no friends at school and her classmate thought her very odd, especially after her report on a pack of killer Chihuahuas. Her mother, who she calls Lizzie rather than mom, doesn't talk much and she sleeps most of the time when she's not at work; a routine which began shortly after Margaret's father died in a drowning accident. One day, Lizzie makes a radical departure from her usual days of sleeping and smoking. She packs Margaret and her little sister Sophie into the truck and head for an island. Once there, they pull up and stop in front of a huge, run-down mansion where Lizzie puts a sign saying FOR SALE BY OWNER. Things get stranger when Margaret finds a package with her mother's name and address along with the words RETURN TO SENDER stamped on it. Stranger still are the contents of the package; a comic book with a drawing of the mansion on the cover and a rusted key. A mystery is afoot and Margaret is drawn in and desperate to solve it because she is convinced that it has something to do with her father's death.
This was my first experience with the new genre of graphic novels. Throughout the book, bits of the comic book at its center are printed. It gives you a glimpse at what the characters see and adds an interesting layer to the story. I am a great fan of books with pictures and am glad to see them begin to appear in young adult fiction books. Nickerson does a good job telling the story, as way-out as it is. I would recommend this book especially to reluctant reader or those kids who enjoy comic books.

Nitz, Kristin Wolden
Suspect
Jen has her whole summer planned out. She'll play basketball and volleyball with her friends and try to forget the fact that her boyfriend just broke up with her. Then, her father asks her to help out her Grandma Kay at her Victorian Bed and Breakfast. The words "Is it too much to ask, Jen" guilt her into a "Yes" answer. It won't be so bad, though. She has her uncousin, Mark, with whom she grew up. He's one of those guys you don't have to pretend around. He knows her history, the fact that her mother disappeared when she was a little girl, how she panics every time she tries to remember. Her life settles into cleaning, cooking, playing ball with the boys. All is well until Grandma Kay springs the idea behind her Mystery Weekend on the unsuspecting group. She is convinced that Jen's mom didn't just disappear. She believes she was murdered and has written a mystery script for the purpose of trying to uncover more information. The truth behind the story is well hidden within the characters and the scripted back story but those close to the family recognize the details. Characters are assigned and Jen will play two parts, that of the victim being the most difficult. Clues are uncovered and the mystery unfolds but Jen discovers something that frightens her to her very core...someone close to her is the reason her mother vanished.

Despite the chick-litish, hot pink cover, this whip-smart mystery is spot on. Nitz obviously knows her mystery techniques. The characters are charismatic, the setting atmospheric, and the revelation very sad. Fans of Carol Plum-Ucci and Graham MacNamee will enjoy the masterfully crafted mystery.

Nix, Garth
Shade’s Children
7th & up
Sci Fi
The future is a terrifying place where creature that are less than human prey on the only remaining humans, children under the age of 18. The Change happened suddenly and all adults simply disappeared. The children were rounded up and placed in Dormitories to await their 14th Birthday when the Overlords come to claim their brain to create more Overlords. Four children who have escaped the Dormitories are bound together by their desire to defeat the Overlords and reverse the Change, if that’s even possible. Shade is their mentor/teacher/protector. He is or was a human who transferred his personality into a computer program. He sends the children on dangerous missions to gather information that will help them get their world back to the way things were but is he really helping them or does he have ulterior motives?
Garth Nix has once again taken us to a world far from our reality yet eerily possible. His characters are well depicted and believable. Shade is convincingly ambiguous and forces the reader to consider his motives. This science fiction novel is very well written and is an excellent example of the genre. I highly recommend it.

Northrop, Michael
Trapped
There's never been anything like it before. The storm started like they usually do...smallish flakes floating down then larger ones coming down faster. This time, though, the snow came so fast and hard that it caught everyone off guard. Scotty and his two best friends decided to wait for a ride from Jason's dad. In the mean time, they went to work in the shop on Jason's built-from-scratch go cart. Soon, they realize that this storm is different and they join the others waiting for rides. Time passes and it becomes frighteningly apparent that no one is coming for them. The teacher in charge of them heads out in the treacherous snow for help but does not return. Still, the idea of spending the night at school is starting to sound not so bad because among the students left stranded are two very pretty girls, Krista and Julie. When the power cuts out and the heat with it, things start getting really scary. The snow piles higher, there's only so much wood to burn and soon they are going to have to make a decision that may have tragic consequences.

Northorp has written a gripping story of survival and, for the most part, it works. The characters are compelling and being stranded at school, for whatever reason, overnight is definitely something that most high school students have pondered. There are only a couple of bumps...the way the kids just accept the disappearance of the teacher into the snow without a second thought is a little unnerving and ending is just a little to contrived. Still, it was an entertaining look at what could happen, given the right set of circumstances.
O
Oates, Joyce Carol
Big Mouth and Ugly Girl
7th & up
Contemporary
Ugly Girl. Typically, this would be a derogatory name but not for Ursula Riggs. It is a persona that came from Ursula's decision to not play the typical teenage girl. She is above all of that...literally. She is very tall and powerfully built, much to strong for ordinary beauty. Ugly Girl cannot be hurt by what other say. Ugly Girl cannot be hurt by her mother who is more focused on her petite, perfect younger sister. Ugly Girl does not get involved in petty stuff like friends and dating. That is until Matt Donahgy, a.k.a. Big Mouth, gets into trouble.
Matt is a clown and gets attention by making everyone laugh and he's good at it. One day in the cafeteria, he makes an unfortunate reference to violence. Everyone around him knew what he'd meant and knew that he was truly joking but when the police come to take him from study hall, no one stands up for him. No one, that is, except Ugly Girl.

What an excellent tale of how out-of-control things can get when you don't have the full story or when the media gets involved, twisting the story like a pretzel. Joyce Carol Oats has done an excellent job getting into the minds of teenagers and the reactions of adults to the ways those minds work. The only thing that keeps me from recommending this as a class book or a summer reading selection is that there are only a few curse words to which parents might object. But for those who are brave and have parental support, what an awesome book to inspire animated and wonderful discussions! I highly recommend this one!

Ockler, Sarah
Fixing Delilah
Keeping secrets and hiding from them seem to be what Delilah's family does best. Her mother is the queen of both. Eight years ago they packed up and left the lake house in Vermont, never to return, never any explanation. Her mother hides the secret of what happened that day by working, working, working. Now, however, she is being forced out of hiding. Nana is dead and they have to go back to finalize her affairs and decide what to do with the old house. Memories haunt every room and secrets swirl around like small breezes, disturbing the dust of forgetfulness. Delilah has steeled herself against feeling anything. It works well until she sees her best summer friend from long ago, little Ricky, who now goes by Patrick and has grown into a very handsome young man. In the warm summer days that follow, Delilah uncovers the diary of her long-dead aunt, after whom she is named and with it's discovery comes the opening of many old wounds. She just can't let things go any more. She needs to know what happened 8 years ago and the long held secrets that have broken her family apart. What happens next is like a hurricane with its leading edge that whips up the waters and the wind followed by the devastating storm surge that wreaks havoc with all things in it's path. Finally, there's the aftermath when you try to piece together things that were shattered. Some things can be salvaged and put back together, others are lost forever. What survives is what's most important.

This devastating story of a family perpetually in crisis tears that the heart strings. If ever you've thought that keeping secrets is a good idea, this cautionary tale should dispel that idea! Ockler superbly crafted characters are wholly believable and thought provoking. The family home is almost a character, itself, and has a huge role in the healing of those old wounds. Recommend this book to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen.

O'Hearn, Kate

Shadow of the Dragon: Kira


There is a prophesy that says that an unmarried, flame-haired girl riding a twin-tailed dragon will defeat the evil King Arden. In defense, the king has decreed that all girls be married by the time they are 13 or they must be sent to Lasser Commons, the most notorious prison in the land. Actually, he has many laws concerning girls but they’ve never bothered Kira much. She grew up running free and dreaming of one day taming her own dragon and being a knight in the king’s army. That all changes the day that Lord Darcon destroys her home, takes her little sister to Lasser and her parents and brother to the palace to serve in the army. Kira and Elspeth, her other younger sister, are now on the run from a furious Lord Darcon. The only safe place for them is also one of the most dangerous …the mountain where the Rogue, a vicious and wild dragon, lives. With the help of a mysterious fox, the girls find shelter in caves beneath the mountain. One day they stumble upon something that changes their lives forever.

An exciting adventure, survival story, fantasy all rolled up into one great story. The tension and rage caused by the injustices wrought by the king and his evil minion, Lord Darcon are palpable but the reason behind their behavior is frustratingly unknown. There’s a chance that an explanation might be forthcoming in future books, however. The characters are intriguing, especially little Elspeth with her power to communicate with animals. The ending is an exasperating cliff hanger made even more so by the epilogue where Paradon the wizard sits alone in his tower after casting a powerful spell to help Kira when, “Realizing the full truth of what had happened he drew his hands to his mouth. ‘What have I done?’” he cried. Aarrgghh!!! That means that readers will have an agonizing wait until the next book comes out..

Oliver, Lauren
Delirium
Love is a disease. Its technical term is amor deliria nervosa. Its symptoms range from mild distraction to complete irrational behavior which renders the sufferer incapable of making even the most simple of decisions. Thankfully, there is a cure for this dreaded disease. It comes in the form of a surgical procedure, which is required for everyone at the age of 18. Afterward, the subject is calm, passive and rational. No more temper tantrums or make-out sessions or any kind of passion-induced behavior. Lena can hardly wait for her to be cured. She lives in fear everyday that she will contract amo deliria nervosa. Her family watches her closely for symptoms. It tends to run in families. Her mother contracted it and...it killed her. Yes, the final and most dangerous symptom of all, love can and does kill.

What a fascinating premise! Love as a disease to be eradicated like smallpox. The logic is not really all that difficult to understand. Love does cause some people to behave irrationally...just watch the television shows Scorned: Love Kills or Snapped or Stalked: someone is watching. Love definitely kills when it is warped and twisted into something ugly. The setting is a future not too distant and society is divided into members and Invalids who live in the wilds and have no rights whatsoever. There are resisters everywhere working against the cure because they don't believe that its a good thing. Basically, this is an interesting twist on the typical dystopian novel and one I highly recommend.

Olshan, Matthew
Finn
7th & up
Contemporary
Chloe has not had an easy life. Her father died, leaving her with her very unstable mother who abused or neglected her. She was finally sent to live with her grandparents with a restraining order against her mother. Things seem to be safe and quiet. She befriends the maid Silvia, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Her illegal status is not Silvia’s only secret…she’s pregnant which gets her kicked out of the house.
One day during a “break” from school Chloe is kidnapped by her estranged mother and her new husband. After being kept in a room with no windows for a week, Chloe’s mother lets her in on their scheme for taking her. They want to rob her grandparents home and Chloe is their key inside. A dangerous plan to escape begins to form in Chloe’s mind. Re-enter Silvia who is in her old apartment gathering some things she left behind. The two end up on the run together, trying to get to California and Roberto, the father of Chloe’s baby.
The ending is wrapped up a bit to neatly but all in all, it’s a satisfying story. It seems to be a modern re-telling of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with female main characters. There is racism and the middle class’ blind indifference to living conditions of poor people as well as the adventures and mishaps that further relate the two stories. This would be an excellent companion to Twain’s classic though for a more mature audience (8th grade and up).


Omololu, C. J.

Dirty Little Secrets

Appearances can be deceiving; Don't judge a book by its cover; It's what's on the inside that counts...All of these statements are about appearances and all are absolutely true for sophomore Lucy. Anyone on the outside of Lucy's life would see a normal looking girl, living in a normal looking house, living a normal life. But all the secrets she's spent her life keeping come screaming at you as soon as you cross the threshold of the front door. In every room, on every available surface, from floor to ceiling junk is piled high. Lucy and her compulsively hoarding mother live in squalor. Her brother and sister have escaped but Lucy still has another two years to deal with the mess that is her life. Outside of the house, however, Lucy has some semblance of your average teenage life. For the first time, "normal" is within reach. She has a best friend to hang out with. A boy she's liked for years is paying her some attention. But then, it all comes crashing down, literally, and her life will change forever.

With the popularity of the A & E series, Hoarding, this book's timely subject should make it a popular choice. The characters are well-rounded and believable. The descriptions of the house evoke an eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere that is palpable. The intensity of Lucy's embarrassment about her home and life are spot on. The only weakness is that the ending is way too abrupt and completely unbelievable.

O'Neal, Eilis
False Princess
A prophesy is given just before the princess's birth...There is danger, the Oracle sees her lying dead in a pool of blood, murdered. A worse prophesy cannot be imagined by the king and queen or their people so they make a plan. Fast forward 16 years and Princess Nalia is alive and well and trying to decipher an ancient code on a map long forgotten with her best friend, Kiernan. She is summoned to the throne room, before her parents. She's done nothing wrong but still, nervousness blooms inside of her like an unwanted weed. As she enters the room, her nerves jump into high gear when she sees the seriousness and, strangely, sadness of her parents faces. They tell her a story, about her birth but it veers off from the familiar and ends with the revelation that she is not who she thought she was. She is a changeling, given to the king and queen by her father a poor man left alone with his infant daughter. The real princess was hidden away in hopes of thwarting the dire prophesy. With her sixteenth birthday passed, she is no longer needed and the real princess is on her way home. It is a shock, no worse than a shock, especially when Nalia, now Sinda, finds herself dumped upon an aunt who doesn't want her with no practical skills at all. Soon, however, things change again when Sinda realizes that she is full to brimming with magic, which leads her down yet another unexpected path. Along the way she uncovers a horrible plot against the throne and the new princess but will she be able to gain enough control over her magic to expose the betrayer and save not only herself and the true princess but all of Thorvaldor?

Kings and queens can certainly be sneaky and cruel people, all in the name of survival. In this fantastical tale, our heroine is a reluctant and confused one. Her insecurities and weaknesses ring true though it does get a bit tiresome to watch her defeat herself over and over again. The magical elements make for interesting foils and when you throw in a false prophesy, you have a suspenseful page-turner. There's a lot going on but O'Neal is a master story teller, deftly fanning the flames of a great story, flavoring it with just a hint of romance. Fans of high fantasy should definitely pick this one up!

Oppel, Kenneth
This Dark Endeavor
Have you ever wondered how mad scientists got to be mad? There’s Perecelcus, Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Faustus but the most famous mad scientist of all is Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Victor began life as a normal boy growing up in Victorian England with his twin, Konrad, two younger brothers and Elizabeth, a distant cousin taken in when her parents died. Konrad, Victor and Elizabeth are inseparable. One afternoon, completely by accident, they discover a secret passageway that lead to a mysterious and unused library. The books that are housed there none of the children have ever seen or heard of before and they wonder why the library was hidden away. Dr. Frankenstein, Sr. finds out about the discovery and forbids them from ever using the books again. The are all about the occult and alchemy, philosophies that have gotten people killed. The books are forgotten until the day that Konrad becomes desperately ill and none of the doctors seem to know what is wrong or how to treat him. Victor becomes obsessed with a tantalizing item he saw in one of the books. Something called “the elixir of life”. He makes several forays into the library to learn more but his search is cut short when the instructions for the elixir are in a language he does not recognize. It isn’t long before the cold trail heats up again and he stumbles upon Polidori, who seems to want to help. Elizabeth, Victor and friend Henry embark on a dangerous quest to gather all of the ingredients but is Polidori telling the everything? What are his true motives? What must Victor sacrifice to save his brother?

Osborne, Mary
Nonna's Book of Mysteries
Why does it have to be so difficult to be a girl, sometimes? Emilia has always drawn and doodled. She's has great talent but it's the 1400s and women are meant to be domestic creatures, not great artists. They cannot even become apprenticed to learn their craft. Emilia and her mother decide she should disguise herself as a boy so that she can train under one of Florence's great painters, Lorenzo Jacavelli. It isn't long, however, before her secret is out and she is dismissed. Depressed, she wanders the great museums where she draws through her pain. On one such outing, an old man stops to watch, noticing her great skill. He is a foreigner from Constantinople in need of an apprentice. He decides to take her on, in spite of the morays against it. Under his tutelage, she learns not only the skills to create the popular art of the Renaissance but also the iconic art of her master's home. Her apprenticeship bring her untold experience and unexpected pain and loss. She is now determined to regain what was stolen from her but the cost might just be too high.

Osborne has been at the writing craft for a very long time. Her skill is apparent in her work. Her characters are endearing and realistic. The descriptions of the paintings are intriguing and inspire curiosity to learn more. The bad guy gets his comeuppance and all ends well with the world. This is one of those tales where both parents are present and involved, only superficially, no one dies and the good guy wins. I highly recommend this to girls who enjoy historical fiction with just a tinge of romance and intrigue.

P
Patrick, Cat
Forgotten
Journaling is usually something you do because your teacher assigns it as homework. For London, however, it's completely different. If she doesn't leave notes for herself each night, she remembers nothing at all of the day! For some strange reason, her brain resets each night and there's nothing left of the day before. To make matters worse or at least weird, London can "remember" the future. She can see what's going to happen but not what has happened. Very few people know about her condition...her mother, obviously and her best friend Jamie are the only ones. They help fill in any gaps she might have left in her notes, making her life as normal as can be expected. One day, something happens that makes her truly regret her problem and it all starts with a fire drill, an embarrassing PE ensemble and a very cold morning. As she stands shivering in the parking lot, a handsome boy walks over to her and gives her his sweatshirt. It's the start of something she wants desperately to remember. Playing in the background of her life are future memories. One in particular triggers something in her mind. She sees a funeral; at first she can't figure out whose but then she realizes that it's a child! What a horrifying thought! But who is the child? Why does this particular vision keep returning? As things begin to unravel and truths are revealed, remembering the past becomes imperitive.

Patrick has created an interesting story reminiscent of the movie Memento except that guy had his memories tattooed onto his body...a little extreme, if you ask me! It's an interesting premise and she keep the story moving with the promise of something coming. At first, you are fairly certain where the story is going...this is going to happen then she'll do that, but then Ms. Patrick throws a great curve ball and takes the story in another direction. The only problem is that there's an awful lot going on and the whole "remembering the future" thing is a little hard to swallow. It's a pretty good technique to use to reveal parts of the story but through it she adds yet another mystery, which she doesn't completely resolve. Also, the conditions seems to have been brought on by emotional trauma and, once she begins to remember the truth, it should have resolved itself but doesn't. I loved the story but was confused. The characters were great but not all of them were quite believable. Her reset condition was very interesting but the future memories were a little strange. So, recommend this to girls who enjoy chick lit that is suspenseful.
Patterson, James
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
8 & up
Science Fiction
Normal. What is that, exactly? Max and her "flock" are kids. They like to play outside, eat lots of junk food, fly...you heard right, fly! Okay, flying is not exactly normal but they were science experiments who escaped from "school" who are now on their own, so normal is relative. They are not the only mutants that the school created. The Erasers are wolf-like creatures of nightmares and they hunt Max's flock. When a group of them manages to capture Angel, the youngest of the group, Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge and the Gasman vow to get her back. So begins an epic journey of self-discovery and nonstop, adrenaline-pumping action.
James Patterson brings his acumen for thrill-writing to the world of young adult fiction in this debut novel. The science is not so far out, the teens are completely believable and their ability to fly simply adds to the appeal. After all, who of us has not wondered what it would be like to be a bird for a day. Anyone interested in sci-fi or adventure or thrillers will enjoy this book. The series continues with School's Out Forever and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. The last book in the series is so totally horrible that I'm not even going to bother mentioning the title (my opinion only).

Paul, Fiona
Venom
Cassandra feels trapped and lonely...no matter that her prison is comfortable with servants and surrounded by velvet and silk. Wealthy young ladies are hemmed in by decorum and tradition. Cass longs for adventure and feels the call of freedom echoing through the canals she travels every day. Her only taste of freedom are the strolls she takes at night through the quiet graveyard near her home. One evening, she stumbles upon the desecrated body of a beautiful young woman. On her breast is carved a bloody X. Cass turns to flee and finds herself face to face with a beautiful young artist. Why is he there? Could he be the murderer? Not with those blue eyes and dimpled smile, right? She finds herself drawn to him, in spite of the fact that she's engaged. Together, they are determined to find the murderer...before he finds them!

Fiona Paul brings together romance, suspense, and a sense of the mischievous in this historical novel. It is a very simply written novel that doesn't quite hit the mark. The suspense begins intensely then peters out about 1/3 of the way through. The romance between Cass and Falco feels rushed and, well gooey! Finally, the title, while titillating, makes no sense...even by the end of the book! Still, fans of chick lit will enjoy that aspect.

Pearce, Jackson
Sweetly
Hansel and Gretel meet Little Red Ridinghood in this fantasy horror by Atlanta author Jackson Pearce. Gretchen and her twin sister Abigail were out playing with older brother Ansel when suddenly a monster appeared. All three children ran but only two arrived home safely...Abigail was never seen again. Their childish memory labeled this monster as a witch. As they grew older, neither could shake the fear and guilt of their sister's loss. When they turn 18, their stepmother throws them out of the house and they head out to find a peaceful place. What they find, instead, is a seemingly sleepy Southern town with terrible secrets of it's own. Sophia Kelly is a local sweetshop owner. Her candies are almost magical, they are so good. For the first time, Gretchen and Ansel enjoy peace and contentment. It's short-lasted, however. Each year, just after Sophia's chocolate festival, several of the towns girls disappear. Gretchen becomes more suspicious and Ansel falls more in love but neither is ready for the true connection between Sophia and the disappearances.

For years, authors have been taking fairy tales from our youth and turning them into creepy young adult novels. Pearce has successfully combined elements from two of the creepiest tales...but you'll have to read the story to find out how! The story, itself, is fairly predictable and the characters are not particularly deep but, for fans of this kind of story, (of which I definitely am) that won't really affect the enjoyment and chill each page brings. This review is for the advance reading copy. The actual book comes out August 23, 2011...that's today, actually! Our library will be ordering the book very soon.

Pearson, Mary
The Fox Inheritance
Jenna, Kara and Locke have been inseparable since they met. Jenna and Kara were from the wealthy side of town. Locke was new to town and lived in a middle class neighborhood with his family. One evening the three best friends head out for a night of partying. Laughter and music fill the car but soon, another more terrifying sound...the screeching of tires and screams then nothing. Vague memories and voices penetrate the nothing then Jenna's scream and nothing again. Then there's light and sound and faces and voices and movement. Locke and Kara awaken to a whole new world...literally! The accident that killed their bodies occurred 260 years ago. Now their memories and DNA have been combined and reformulated into new bodies, better bodies, bodies that have no expiration date. It's a brave new world where the US has been split along philosophical lines and the people forced to choose a side. Those who don't choose are denied most services. They are called Non-pacts. Locke and Kara have no idea where they fit in to this new world. Currently Dr. Gatsbro, their creator, has them under lock and key and only shows them off to a very special visitor. It's that man who makes them realize that they are merely floor models for the good doctor, showing his very wealthy clients what he can do with just a little bit of genetic materials and a computer chip. It gives a whole new meaning to the term "memory chip". Locke and Kara decide they've had enough and make their escape. Survival in this strange world where everything they once knew and all the people they once loved are long gone will not be easy but they are on a mission. Jenna disappeared years ago and now each has a reason to find her.

Now this is one very twisted dystopian tale! Picking up where The Adoration of Jenna Fox left off, Pearson tells the story of the other two teens "killed" in the car accident. The only way to describe what it must have been like for Locke and Kara to be downloaded into a box would be to compare their experience with someone who has been paralyzed or in a coma, unable to communicate or move in any way. Many people in comas come out explaining they could hear and feel and think but could not do anything about it. How frustrating and terrifying that must have been and then to add insult to injury, Locke and Kara were in stasis for nearly 300 years!!! That's enough to make anyone come out more than a little twisted! The story wraps up nicely, though leaves a little room for the possibility of a third installment. There's a lot of discussion potential in this book and teens will debate enthusiastically the ethics of the doctors, the political ramifications and the future possibilities.

Pearson, Ridley
Steel Trapp: The Challenge
Being ubersmart is both blessing and curse. Steel has a photographic memory..think elephant memory on steroids! He, his mom and dog, Cairo, are heading to Washington, DC for Steel to compete in the National Science Challenge. On the train, he spots a woman leave her brief case in the train's overhead compartment. When he catches her up to return it, she claims that it isn't hers, that Steel is mistaken. That one act of kindness lands him in the middle of a sinister plot worthy of James Bond. Federal agents and bad guys abound, including one who is close to Steel. Through the twists and turns, Steel and his brain fight to prevent a tragedy and survive to compete another day.

What an action-packed, page-turner!!! Pearson usually writes with Dave Barry (Peter and the Star Catchers) and adult books. In fact, the Federal agents we meet in this story were originally seen in his adult book, Cut and Run. This is a great book for readers who loved Alex Rider and is an excellent first novel in an anticipated series. I'm looking forward to more and am envious of Steel's photographic memory...that could come in handy!

Pearson, Ridley
Steel Trapp: The Academy
After Steel's adventures in Washington, his FBI agent father sends him to an exclusive boarding school for gifted children. There, in the midst of arriving students he spots someone familiar. Kaileigh, the girl from the science challenge, is also attending. When he finds out that his father also arranged for her acceptance, both realize that this is much more than your average boarding school. Little did they know how right they are. It isn't long before Steel and Kaileigh are in the middle of intrigue, tunnels, hidden cameras and something called The Program. But all is not what it seems. Betrayal, foreign agents, conspiracy make a straight forward mission anything but, putting their very lives in grave danger.

Ridley Pearson continues his action-packed series about Steel, the boy with the photographic memory. For the most part, the action is believable, especially since Alex Rider has already paved the way for teen agents. Parts of the story seem rushed and convoluted but the mystery and adventure keeps things moving along. For girls who enjoy a good action book, there's even just a hint of something more. I highly recommend this book, especially for reluctant readers who've already plowed through the Alex Rider series.

de la Pena, Matt
Mexican Whiteboy

Danny is caught in between. He's too brown to be white and he's too pale to be Mexican. But, no matter what color he is, there's no denying that the boy can pitch. He's not powerfully built but his arms are long and his aim deadly. At 95 mph, you'd think he'd be the star of the team. Not so. His problem is control and consistency. He gets on the mound, in front of everyone and stalls. His problem is in his head, literally. His father left the family to return to Mexico and Danny is left floundering, thinking that it's all his fault. He's shut down; not just on the field either. He hardly speaks. He digs his fingernails into his arms when he's stressed. That summer, he wants to be close to his father so he goes to stay with his Mexican relatives in National city. There he finds that, instead of shunning him because he can't speak Spanish, he is accepted. His pitching arm doesn't hurt either. Here he might just be able to figure out who he is but only if he has the courage to face the truth about his father.

de la Pena tells a powerful story of loss, lies and being different. It's also a story about the power of friendhip and family. The story is told masterfully. The characters are engaging, gritting, deep and real. The language is rough and graphic but also real. Sometimes the street cadence bogs down but all you have to do is close your eyes and imagine these kids and the flow starts again. The baseball scenes are where the magic really happens. The descriptions of Danny's fastball make your hands hurt. Fans of the game will enjoy this book.
Peretti, Frank
Nightmare Academy
8 & up
Mystery, Suspense
The Project Veritas team is deployed, unofficially, by the President of the United States to investigate the reappearance of a young man who seems deranged and who keeps ranting about Nightmare Academy. When he is killed, the team steps up their investigation and the teenaged twins, Elijah and Elisha, pose as homeless teens hoping to find this place that so terrified the boy and for which he was killed. They meet a woman who promises them food and a warm place to sleep. The terror begins for them when they wake in a strange place not remembering how they got there and not being able to contact their parents. The twins’ faith is tested at every turn when “reality” is turned upside down and there is no right or wrong except where the group decides. “There’s no winning or losing here, no right or wrong. There’s just the game and what you make of it,” preaches one teacher. Finding a way out becomes their first priority but at what price?”
Peretti, a devout Christian, writes another chapter in the lives of this family undercover. The suspense and mystery is well told and most of the characters are believable. Christianity plays a big role in his stories and this one is no different. I enjoy his writing but it can be a bit simplistic and at times, implausible. Not many teenagers are as strong in their faith as these two and working for the U.S. President, however covertly, is amazing. That said, if you’re looking for a good suspense story with strong morals and beliefs, this would be an excellent choice.

Pierce, Meredith Ann
Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood
8 & up
Fantasy
Brown Hannah, as she is called, lives at the edge of Tanglewood. She is a healer but the villagers nearby come to her full of trepidation, which puzzles her. She doesn’t realize the effect her appearance has on them. Growing amongst her hair are natural things…flowers, greenery, berries and wheat. These things she harvests once a month to make a tea for the wizard who raised her. This tea gives him a strange strength that she doesn’t understand. But just as it makes him stronger, it weakens not only her own powers but also her body. As she becomes more curious about the villagers, she learns things about her forest and the wizard that disturb her. Eventually, she confronts him, defies him and escapes to find out who she is and why the wild things grow in her hair and change with the seasons. Her journey is long but successful as she goes from Brown to Green to Golden and finally Russet Hannah.
This is a story I would recommend it for anyone who really likes fantasy. It’s a great escapist novel but not the best fantasy story I've read. Some of the characters and situations are not as well defined as is needed in fantasy stories in order to follow what's happening.

Pierce, Tamora
The Will of the Empress
7-9
Fantasy
When friends have been away from one another for a long time, it's often uncomfortable when they come back together again. This is especially true for Sandry, Tris, Briar, and Daja who have all changed greatly since their time at Winding Circle. Regaining their close connection will be difficult, especially since after only a few days home, Tris, Briar and Daja are asked to accompany Sandry to her home lands to settle problems that have arisen there. The Empress is used to having her way and, after luring Sandry home, she is determined to keep her and her mage friends in her kingdom at all costs and, as it turns out, those costs are high, indeed!
For those who are fans of the series, Circle of Magic, will appreciate this new book. It brings the 4 extraordinary, young mages back together after each of them have had life-changing experiences. Pierce is a consummate storyteller, and thought I'm not a fan of these particular characters (hence the "Good" rating), I did appreciate the intricacies of their story.


Pike, Aprilynne

Wings

Laurel is your average teen-aged girl, with a few minor exceptions. She is strictly vegan, she can't stand to swim in salt water, and just this morning...she sprouted a flower from her back! The petals were lovely and smelled wonderful but would definitely make wearing clothing a bit of a challenge. What is she going to tell her family, her friends, her boyfriend? She has to tell someone so she decides upon David, who is a self-proclaimed science geek. Together, they try to figure out what she is. Somehow, it's all tied to the land that has been in her mother's family for hundreds of years. The land that is now being sold out from under them because her father has become gravely ill and cannot work. With the help of David and other ethereal allies, Laurel will have to save her family and the land she loves.

Fairy stories are a dime a dozen these days and there are no surprises ind this one. However, it was an interesting story with likable characters and unique revelations. Being different and wanting to be just like everyone else is a perennial struggle for teenagers. That the difference is a flower blooming between your shoulder blades matters little. The reader will still relate to Laurel's desire to be "normal" and will cheer for her to step up and fight when she needs to. The love triangle just adds spice to an already enticing story. It's a great read!

Plum, Amy
Die For Me
Okay, the title suggests yet another vampire book but, no...this is something else entirely! Kate and her sister Georgia are transplants to Paris after their parents are killed in a car accident. Their grandparents are kind, loving and provide them a strong sense of normalcy. They are just beginning to heal when Kate meets Vincent, a drop-dead gorgeous Parisian. There's something mysterious, dangerous about him but Kate is charmed enough to give him her heart. Only when it's too late does she find out that Vincent is not a regular human boy...there's no name for what he is and his destiny involves life and death decisions. He is a revanent, an immortal who saves the lives of others by giving his own, over and over again. There are others, darker members of his kind who are dangerous enemies. As Kate is drawn further into Vincent's dark world, she begins to understand what it means to love someone enough to die for him.

So, you might think that Vincent is a Zombie or a vamp or a ghost or...something else. It's a fascinating idea, that someone could save the life of another by giving his own and then getting it back to do all over again. It's a unique premiss and Plum makes it work pretty well. There are some truly groan-worthy scenes and dialog but most teen girls and not a few adult women will enjoy those and just keep on turning the pages to find out what happens next. If you're into paranormal chicklit, this book is definitely for you!
Plum-Ucci, Carol
*The Body of Christopher Creed
7-9
Suspense, Contemporary
Chris was the kind of kid that most people either picked on or ignored. He was different from most, weird, if you asked any of his classmates. So when Chris vanished, his weirdness became exaggerated and seemed to permeate the minds of the town’s people. Torey is neither friend nor enemy of Chris’s. He becomes involved with the mystery because of an e-mail from Chris, which mentions his name. “…Torey Adams… I don’t understand why I get nothing and these boys get everything – athletic ability, good personalities, beautiful girlfriends.” He ends the letter, “I wish no malice on anyone. I only wish to be gone. Therefore, I AM.” Torey feels, somehow, responsible yet he knows there’s more to the story than Chris just being jealous of him and his friends. As he begins to look deeper, he comes to realize that people are not always who they seem, including those you thought were friends, and that parents do not always do what they are supposed to do.
This is an excellent story that takes a hard look at bullying and it’s affect on people; not just those who are being bullied but on those who participate or watch and do nothing. But it also deals with dysfunctional families and what goes into being a good friend. The use of some very adult/street language may make this a tough sell, especially for students who have conservative families but the depth of the characters and the author's ability to tell a good story make the use of certain words a minor annoyance.

Plum-Ucci, Carol
Following Christopher Creed
It's been years...enough so that maybe now, the story could be told. At least that's what Mike decides after selling his laptop to buy a ticket to Steepleton so that he could write it. He has a few challenges to contend with, though. For one, he's legally blind ever since being hit in the head with a baseball his freshman year at college. The other is his editor-in-chief who was dead set against this story so it's up to him to sell it. Being blind does have its upside. People tend to overlook or feel sorry for you, which Mike plays for all its worth, if it will get him closer to the people whose story he's here to tell and he's always been able to sweet talk the editor. It's a strange place, Steepleton. There's a feeling, an energy that's not wholly benign. Out in the woods, people have claimed to see strange lights coming up from the ground. The local teens believe that it's Christopher Creed who disappeared more than 4 years earlier after being bullied mercilessly. One teen, in particular believes with his whole heart, that the lights are or signal the return of his brother Chris. Justin is a very disturbed young man struggling with a serious drug addiction. When a body turns up buried in a shallow grave, all of the players are drawn back to the eerie town for one last gathering. All hoping to put to rest the mystery of Christopher Creed, once and for all.

This is a great book, despite a few convoluted additions! Plum-Ucci is a master at suspense and keeps the momentum going from page to page. The characters have the same intensity as in all of her books but this one somehow, feels personal, like the story just needed telling. The only distraction was also something that made the story more intense. The Lightening Fields, where the strange lights appear, is an eerie and ethereal setting. The trees that remain after the fire that burned much of the forest down, are white instead of black and even Mike and RayAnn, who don't do drugs, see the lights. RayAnn even gets a picture. It's distracting because the author takes away the mystery a little too quickly by explaining the scientific reason for the lights. Still, if you've read The Body of Christopher Creed, you HAVE to read this book because the mystery of what happened to him is revealed and it was a total surprise!

Plum-Ucci, Carol
The She
8th-10th
Contemporary/Mystery
What is truth? Does memory affect it, especially when it's a memory from long ago? Evan wonders if his memory has colored the truth of what happened to his parents when he was eight. He remembers his father's frantic Mayday on the ship-to-shore radio. He remembers his mother's terrified screams. He remembers the ungodly shriek that drowns out almost everything. There was no wreckage from the boat; no bodies washed ashore. It was as if Something had just sucked them under. The She is said to be a long-forgotten sea monster who got so jealous of lovers sailing the waters above her that she destroyed them, ship and all. Could The She have been responsible for his parents death? Now, even though he's 17 and much too old to believe in such lore, their disappearance has still not been explained. When a girl from his school needs his help working through her own loss, old memories and new mysteries begin to surface. Will his quest for the truth lead him to a logical explanation of what happened 9 years earlier or will he discover things about his family that were better left hidden?
Carol Plum-Ucci has become one of the new masters in young adult fiction. She tells stories that keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages as fast as you can to unravel the twisted story to it's dramatic end. I highly recommend this one but to older readers, due to occasional strong language.

Plum-Ucci, Carol
*What happened to Lani Garver
8th-10th
Contemporary, Mystery
Being the new kid is never an easy thing. You are automatically viewed as strange or mysterious. Lani Garver was more of both. No one seems to know much about who he is, where he came from or even how old he is. But most disturbing of all was that no one could tell, for sure, whether Lani was a girl or a boy. Claire was a popular girl who wasn't sure if she really was or not. When her best friend, Macy, decides to investigate this strange newcomer, she goes along. She's not, however, into tormenting him as others in her crowd seem to be. In a strange twist, Claire befriends Lani and realizes that she's really not so different from him. As a result of this new friendship, Claire's world is turned upside down and inside out. Lani is far more intriguing than anyone else she's ever known but this does not stop the tragedy that propels Claire into a whole new life.
Plum-Ucci is adept at capturing the intense feelings that go along with being an outcast or even just slightly different from the crowd. She has given such depth to each of the characters involved that the reader experiences the same emotions that they do. Even the periphery characters add authority and interest to the story. As with her previous book, The Body of Christopher Creed, and The She, some parents and students may have difficulty with curse words and adult content but if you can get past those, this is an excellent story for upper school students.

Poblocki, Dan
The Stone Child
"The blue station wagon had just come around a sharp bend in the road when the creature stepped out of the woods. Eddie was the first to see it---a blur of black hair and four long, thin legs. It looked at him with red-rimmed yellow eyes and a gaping mouth full of sharp teeth." Eddie and his family are heading to their new home in a small, quaint town called Gatesweed. It just happens to be the hometown of Eddie's favorite mystery author, Nathaniel Olmstead. As it happens, Olmstead's whole life seems to be a mystery. While he was living there, strange creatures attacked neighborhood pets and a young boy disappeared from his room, never to be seen again. Olmstead, himself, simply vanished one day. Eddie and his new friend and fellow Olmstead fan, Harris find an unknown manuscript written completely in code. When the terrifying creatures from Olmstead's books begin to appear for real, they realize that there must be clue hidden in the book that will rid the town of the horrors before the final and most powerful creature is let through and destroys the world.

With a creepy Gothic style, Poblocki weaves a tale using classic horror story techniques. You find yourself wanting to yell at the characters..."Don't open that door". The three young people are well formed and interesting characters. The adults are just on the periphery and simply move the story along. If you're a fan of creep-yourself-out stories, this would be an excellent book for you...just one thing, you might want to read it in daylight only. Night time brings it's own atmosphere of darkness.

Poblocki, Dan
The Nightmarys
Timothy and Abigail are average middle school students, except for one thing. They are cursed! It all started years before, when Abigail's grandmother, Zilpha, was a little girl and something horrible happened. She witnessed her friend being kidnapped by a very sick man. When she turned him in, he was taken away. Her story was fictionalized by her uncle when he started writing a series of detective stories starring Zelda, teen super sleuth. Years later, Timothy stumbles across one of the books and begins reading. Soon, he begins to see things...horrible, frightening things. At first, he thinks he's going crazy but then his best friend Stuart sees a monster in the pool and his teacher is haunted by the old jars full of formaldehyde-infused creatures. Abigail has not escaped notice. She is haunted by two girls from her old school. Timothy and Abigail team up to try and figure out what's going on. They realize that the things that haunt them are things that they most fear and that someone is making it happen. An ancient artifact, the fictional novel written about Zelda and baseball cards all help solve the mystery but at what cost?

Dan Poblocki follows his bone-chilling novel, The Stone Child, with this creepy story, though with less success. The premise is very good; ancient artifacts are often imbued with power in stories but to be able to invoke people's fears to scare them to death is interesting. One problem is that there are too many threads going in too many directions. The connection between Zilpha, Abigail and the curse are not fully fleshed out and how Timothy was dragged into it all is also not as strong a thread as it could be. Still, fans of horror stories will find the idea of your fears scaring you to death interesting enough to keep the pages turning.

Pratchett, Terry
Dodger
Dodger...the word means "person who fools others". A perfect name for a boy who is never what or where you expect him to be. At 17, Dodger has lived his whole life on the streets, searching the sewers and streets for "found" objects. He lives by his own code; take what you can find and take care of those who can't take care of themselves. This code is put to the test the night he comes upon a desperate young woman who has been terribly beaten. This single valiant act will change his life in ways he cannot begin to imagine. The young woman, it turns out, is caught in the middle of a struggle between powerful people and she has brought that fight to England. Dodger's involvement brings him into contact with some famous and infamous people...Sweeny Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, who is really just a horribly broken man; author Charles Dickens, who started his career as a newspaper man and is largely responsible for the sensational headline about Dodger; and Angela Burdett-Coutts, famed philanthropist and all-around nice woman, just to name a few. Along the way, Dodger becomes an unlikely and reluctant hero but, in the end, he also gets his greatest reward!

Terry Pratchett, famed fantasy writer, tries his hand at historical fiction with fantastic success. Dodger is a delightful anti-hero and the motley cast of characters are engaging and entertaining. There is something for every reader in this tale...adventure and heart-pounding action, nefarious characters up to no good and topped off with just a hint of romance. Pratchett's Author's notes are informational and quite funny! The only negative is that it gets a little wordy in spots...too much information, so to speak. Still, fans of great stories should definitely read this one!

Preller, James
Bystander
When you are the new kid at school, you either want to be invisible or get in with the popular crowd and sometimes, a little of both. Eric is a smart but damaged kid who's warily scoping the scene when Griffin pops up on his radar. Griffin is a popular, confident boy with his own entourage and a mean streak just barely below the surface. He wants Eric to join his pack and, at first, it's great. Soon, however, Eric is drawn into the darkness that Griff inhabits and he wants out. He's walking a tightrope between pack member and target when one appalling event pushes him to take a giant leap; a move that might just make him Griffin's next victim.

Bullying is a daily thing that many students must deal with. You are the bully, the bystander or the victim. Which one depends upon your own personal moral compass. Preller deftly handles this sensitive issue with spot on characters, both main and supporting. As they navigate the minefield that is middle school, Preller highlights all three kinds of people involved in bullying with sensitivity and brutal honesty. This one is sure to get kids talking and it's a bonus that the author is also a good writer.

Priestley, Chris
Redwulf's Curse
Young Tom Marlow and Dr. Harker are off on another mysterious adventure. This time they are caught up in the superstitions of small town Norfolk where a friend of Dr. Harker is studying the grave of an ancient king. According to legend, the grave is guarded by a long dead knight and those who disturb it die a horrible death. A young girl who was born and raised in Norfolk and knows it's treacherous creeks like the back of her hand is found dead, seemingly drowned by the mud that can, at one moment be solid earth and the next a sucking hole from which there is no escape. The wound on the back of her head seems to suggest that the mud had help. Tom, though not particularly superstitious, is wary and when he sees a hulking figure lurking about the manor, he begins to wonder if there might be some truth in the guardian stories. When another body turns up, there is no doubt about a murderer on the loose and there are suspects in abundance; the enigmatic neighbor who is known to delve into the occult, the smugglers who use the dangers of the creek and even the ghostly legend to hide their nefarious activities, even the servants of the household where Tom and Dr. Harker are staying could be the murderer. Tom and Dr. Harker must sift through the stories to separate truth and lies and uncover the real killer before anyone else dies.

Chris Priestly is an excellent storyteller, as was shown in the first Tome Marlowe Adventure, The Death and the Arrow. I imagine that he used to scare the daylights out of his friends with his stories by the fire as a child! Clues are revealed and the tension is tightly woven through out, keeping the pages turning to find out who the killer is and that revelation will probably come as a bit of a surprise. Readers interested in murder mysteries but not all the gore of Alane Ferguson's CSI-styled books will enjoy this one!

Priestley, Chris
The Dead of Winter
Michael Vyner is all alone in the world. His mother has just passed away and his father died when he was a baby. He died saving the life of a young officer, Sir Stephen Clarendon. Now, Clarendon is his guardian, having sworn to Michael's father that he would care for the family. The ride to his new home was miserable. Michael was angry, resentful and heartrendingly sad. Hawton Mere wasn't particularly welcoming. It was a dark stone fortress, complete with its own moat. Sir Clarendon was a strange, haunted looking man who seemed ill and not a little crazy. His sister Charlotte was a little easier to handle though she seemed a bit out of sorts with the prospect of having a young boy about. The servants, however, were very friendly and worked hard to make Michael feel welcome. Almost immediately, Michael noticed strange things about the house. He heard noises at odd hours and often felt as though someone was watching him. Late one evening he saw a woman roaming the house. She seemed pale and frantic but she disappeared almost as soon as he saw her. The following morning, Michael recognized the apparition as Mrs. Clarendon, the long-dead lady of the house and Sir Stephen's only love. Hers was not the only presence he felt. There was something dark and evil lurking about the old homestead. These restless spirits would not give Michael or, it seemed, Sir Stephen a moment's peace. What were they after? What did they want Michael to see? They say that tragedy leaves a mark on a place. The mark left on Hawton Mere seemed to be dismantling the place piece by piece but would it take everyone down with it or will uncovering the horrible truth set the innocent free?

Priestley is a master at scary stories. I'm not usually one for ghost stories but this one was pretty creepy and the cover is going to attract many a reader. It's not a sophisticated tale and fairly predictable but still a page-turner! The ending left little to be desired...I'd like to have seen Michael do something more positive with his inheritance...but then, I'm not a storyteller! Recommend it to reluctant readers and those who are fans of Priestley's earlier work.

R
Ray, Delia
Here Lies Linc
Parents are quite often the source for some of the most embarrassing moments in their children's lives. It can be the way they dress or their behavior or what they do for a living. For Linc Crenshaw, his mom is guilty of all three...she dresses like a hippie, she gets excited about the weirdest things and, worst of all, she studies grave yards and death rituals! Linc has grown up playing in grave yards all over the world! Now, though, he's 12-years-old and going to a public middle school for the first time ever and he's determined to be just like everyone else. Alas, normalcy is just not meant to be for, on the first day of school, Linc's American Studies teacher announces that their research assignment for the semester and it requires a class trip to the local cemetery with a very special guest speaker...you guessed it, his very own mother! At first, Linc is mortified but, when he picks the strange statue that everyone thinks is cursed as his project, everything suddenly changes. Secrets long held are unearthed and Linc's life will never be the same again.

Delia Ray has crafted a delightfully unique tale about growing up, secrets and the perennial struggle between fitting in and standing out. Her characters, both the main secondary, are multidimensional and engaging. With humor and true affection, Linc and his friends navigate the rough terrain of middle school and family, realizing that no secret stays that way forever and that uniqueness is not a quality to be afraid of but embraced.
Rees, Celia
Pirates!
6th - 9th
Historical
Pirates are cut-throat, evil, mad men, living above the law. It’s no life for descent, law abiding citizens to desire, especially when that citizen is female. But when her father dies and Nancy Kington is taken to Jamaica to marry a much older but fabulously wealthy man in an arrangement intended to save her family’s fortune. In the early eighteenth century, a woman’s place was in her husband’s household doing whatever he commands. She is not much better off than the slaves they buy. Nancy befriends her young maid, Minerva, against the advice of the plantation’s overseer. When she discovers him attempting to rape Minerva, Nancy kills him and the two must flee for their lives. Enter the pirates who spirit the two girls away for a new life of adventure and fortune. The relief is short lived, however, when Nancy realizes that her intended husband will pursue her to the ends of the earth to reclaim what is his.
Adventure tales with women as the main characters are hard to come by but Rees has provided a swashbuckling escapade well worth reading! Nancy is the narrator who seems to be speaking directly to the reader, as if drawing you into her secret world. Her references to Daniel Defoe add an interesting twist to the narration. This will be a welcome addition to any library, especially with the success of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.


Reeve, Philip
Here Lies Arthur
Gwyna runs as her village is attacked and burned to the ground. She escapes to the woods but is discovered by Myrddin. He agrees to protect her if she becomes his servant. Myrddin is a trickster, a teller of tales, a master of illusion. He has taken on the task of transforming a young, impetuous, often violent Arthur into a king, a legend who will rid Britain of the Saxons forever. Myrddin transforms Gwyna into many things to suit his purposes...the Lady of the Lake who bestows a magical sword to Arthur, a young warrior, and a lady spy. As a boy, she witnesses the horrors of battle. As the Lady of the Lake, she is the most deceptive but her performance goes far in convincing the soldiers and other war lords to follow him. But it's as a lady spy that Gwyna must use all her wits as Myrddin has set her the task of watching over Arthur's wife, Gwenhwyfar...for the Lady has a secret that could get both of them killed.

This is an interesting twist on the usual King Arthur tales. While completely fictional, the author does discuss the history of Arthur in his author's notes, which tells that characters that are actually mentioned in history. For those who are King Arthur fans, this book is a must to read, for it gives a wholly different perspective on the times and the man, himself.

Reeve, Philip
Fever Crumb
In a distant future, Fever was a foundling raised by Dr. Crumb to be a very logical, reasonable girl. It is a time of unrest. The Scriven race has been annihilated but there are rumors that some survived the devastation and are coming to reclaim London. Fever is sent on her first assignment. She is to help archaeologist Kit Solent uncover the mysteries in a locked room that contains what was once a top secret project by the last and most brilliant Scriven, Auric Godshawk. For reasons quite unknown by Fever, Mr. Solent thinks that she has the code that will unlock the door and reveal the secrets within. As she works, she becomes aware of memories that don't feel quite right. She remembers things that she did not do, see or say. Fever begins to wonder about the story Dr. Crumb always told her about where she came from. The memories inside of her have a life of their own, including enemies. Someone is trying to eliminate her. Another is trying to capture her. Everyone seems to think that she holds some sort of key but to what? The past or the future? Even she does not know.

This highly original science fiction tale is sure to a winner! The post-apocalyptic setting is detailed

Richards, Jame
Three Rivers Rising
In the late 1800s, the differences in class are vast and impassable and the morays in the upper crust are iron clad. Girls strive for a well appointed match from her own class or above. Marriages are business arrangements and are rarely love matches. Celestia and her sister Estrella are with their parents visiting a resort at Lake Conemaugh in the Pennsylvania countryside. Estrella is the beauty with her curls, dark eyelashes and quick wit. She is already betrothed to a young man in the city but is also the toast of the resort. Celestia is the quiet, studious one; still beautiful but reserved and more interested in books than in society. Both girls have a secret...one that could ruin them and their family's social standing. The stringent rules and the uncompromising attitude of their parents sets in motion actions that threaten to tear the family apart. Then, the rains came and tragedy strikes as the dam breaks sending thousands of gallons of water barreling down into the valley where Celestia has gone to see Peter, her beloved. Suddenly, morays and class differences don't matter. One man searches and hopes he is not too late to save his daughter. One woman hears the whistle that usually signals the homecoming of her husband but this time screams disaster. Another woman, consumed with sorrow finds a purpose for her life. All of them are completely changed the day that the rivers rise.

Stories in verse are often more poignant and haunting than their prose counterparts. Three Rivers Rising is no different. The spare words invoke powerful emotion and the atmospheric tone gives life to the setting. The characters are multidimensional and engaging. Each character brings a different perspective which adds a new layers and voices to the tale. The author provides a brief historical note as well as the chronology of actual events, which is nearly as interesting as the story itself. Richards has also provided web sites and other titles for further reading. This incredibly well crafted historical novel is a quick but inspiring read.

Ripkin, Cal
Hothead
Connor Sullivan is the best player on his baseball team, the Orioles but you'd never know it by his behavior. He's cool at the plate and as short stop and he never misses...until the day he does then everything about him changes. It was an error, a stupid, rookie error. The ball was heading straight for him then it bounced off the heel of his hand and rolled out in front of him. He just stared for a second then he lost his stuff, pulling off his glove and kicking it almost into the dugout! Where had that come from? Connor was instantly ashamed and promised his no-nonsense coach that it would never happen again. But it did and worse...he struck out and proceeded to throw a major temper tantrum and was kicked out of the game. Worse still, he yelled at his best friend, trying to lay the blame on him. Just to add icing to this Mt. Vesuvius cake, the sports writer for the school paper, one Melissa Morrow, is doing a feature story on him and caught all of his melt-downs on video. He has to get it together or risk disappointing his coach, his parents, his team mates and himself.

So, Cal Ripkin is one of the great baseball players of all time. His work ethic and talent at, surprise, short stop, is legendary. Did you know he could also write? This story, according to the flap, is based on an incident from Cal's own life but it's more than that...the issues that Connor faces are universal to most boys his age (girls too, come to that), especially in the current economy. With humor, wit and succinct storytelling, Cal and sports writer Kevin Cowherd deliver a hit for reluctant boy readers, though liking baseball might be a prerequisite...the play by play action is fantastic!

Rodkey, Geoff
Deadweather & Sunrise
His brother is named Adonis. His sister is Venus. You'd think he would have an awesome name too, right? Wrong...Meet Egbert, the youngest of his clan. As if the name weren't bad enough, he's also the only smart one in the bunch, which earned him slaps, kicks and punches from both siblings. They live on and island called Deadweather, an appropriate name, indeed. The wind absolutely dies just off it's coast so, the only people, besides his family who live there are pirates too old or infirm to be proper pirates anymore. One morning, their father was acting strangely. He headed out with parchment and paper, without a word. When he returned, he hastened them off to dress in their finest rags for a trip to Sunrise island for some unexpected business. A balloon ride and bazaar twist of fate lands Egg in the home of a very wealthy man. Mr. Pembroke. If rumors are to be believed, he runs the island and the seas around it, even the pirates are under his control. He lives in the lap of luxury, something he couldn't even have ever dreamed about. He's even made friends with Millicent Pembroke, a headstrong, spoiled girl. For weeks, he enjoys his new life...right up until someone tries to kill him. Now on the run, he finds unlikely allies who help him escape. He must figure out what secret his father held that was worth killing for before he, himself, meets a bloody end!

Rodkey's cast of likable, if slightly deranged characters play out a delicious intrigue. The villains and the heroes are sometimes difficult to spot because they don't necessarily play by the rules, keeping the reader on his or her toes. On a few occasions, the story bogs down a bit due to the dialog but, if you are fluent in pirate, you should be fine. Fans of action and adventure will look forward to reading future installments of this excellent yarn!

Rodowsky, Colby
Clay
6th - 9th
Contemporary, Suspense
How many children are stolen each day? Each hour? Each minute? Elsie and her brother Tommy live on the run, always moving but not knowing why, not remembering a time when they were really home. Their mother came to take them for ice cream but never took them back. Ever since, she moves the family every time she feels threatened. Elsie has always obeyed her mother’s rule to stay away from people and take care of her brother. That is until Tommy gets very sick. Her mother refuses to see that he’s burning up with fever and sleeps all the time, just as she turns a blind eye to how strange Tommy behaves on a regular basis. Elsie decides that she must defy her mother and try and get help.
Rodowsky handled the sensitive situations and emotions involved with the kidnapping of children quite well. The characters and plot were somewhat shallow in that you felt like you entered in the middle of the story and no one caught you up on what was happening. The solution came with unexpected swiftness, ending the story too soon and too tidily.

Roth, Veronica
Divergent

In a Chicago of the distant future, Beatrice lives with her family and the rest of her faction in peace and harmony. Society has split into 5 distinct factions, all based on a particular personality trait. Those who live in Candor tell the truth, always and know when someone else is lying. Those who are Abnegation are the selfless helpers. They put others’ needs before their own. The Dauntless are the brave fighters. Nothing frightens them because they have conquered their fear. The Amity are the peace keepers, striving to create accord between the factions. The Erudite are the thinkers. They value scholarship above all else. When you turn 16, you go through an aptitude test which will help you choose to which of these factions you will spend the rest of your life. Beatrice is unsure of what her test results will tell her. She’s never felt selfless enough to stay with Abnegation and has always admired the audacity of Dauntless. Her test results, it turns out, don’t help. She is told that her results were inconclusive but, in reality, her tester explains that she is Divergent that that is very, very dangerous. Like, it could get you killed kind of dangerous! Now Beatrice must make her choice…and that is just the beginning of her troubles! Things are changing. There is an undercurrent that she doesn’t understand and when she finally figures out what’s going on, it’s nearly too late. Now she will have to fight friends and enemies alike to save herself and both of her factions!


Roth is an excellent storyteller and her dystopian world is an interesting, unique one. The characters are flawed but likeable and you will find yourself rooting for the underdogs and shocked at the actions of one of them. It’s a riveting tale with a mostly satisfying ending ( okay, I’d like to know more about what happens next). Don’t miss this one!!!

Russon, Penni
Undine
7-9
Fantasy
Power can be a dangerous thing. It can be used for good or for ill. Undine is an almost-normal teenager. She has a mom and baby brother, whom she adores. Her best friend is Trout, the boy next door. He has a crush on her but she'll forgive him for that. But one day, things start to change and Undine is not good at change. At first it's just a strange feeling...like something is about to happen. Then fish from the ocean are left on her front doorstep. Finally, she hears a voice inside of her telling her that it's time to come home. The strangeness builds until one hot, muggy day when two lone clouds drift into her view. She imagines she's knitting them together when suddenly a freak thunderstorm breaks right over her house. Her power frightens and intrigues her and she begins to wonder about the father she's never met...the father she was told was dead.
Russon does a great job drawing the reader in from the start. The characters are eccentric but mostly realistic. The power developing in Undine and the mystery about her father keep the pages turning. The momentum, however, gets bogged down with some of the side stories and the resolution seems contrived. Still, it was a fun read.

Ryan, Carrie
The Forest of Hands and Teeth

All of her life, Mary’s mother had told her stories of “outside” and the ocean that waits for them. The ocean is endless water as far as the eye could see with shining sands of the purest gold. Mary sleeps dreaming of tasting salt and feeling the waves lap at her feet. When she wakes, however, it’s to a nightmare world where the Sisters and the Guardians fight to keep their small village alive and safe from the Unconsecrated. Years ago, something horrible happened and a virus was let loose on the world. In very short order, people who used to be living, breathing human beings were turned into walking corpses with a savage hunger for flesh and blood. Small pockets of people dot the earth, completely cut off from one another. Mary’s village is ruled with the iron hand of the Sisters. Their stone cathedral is where all teaching and praying goes on. One horrible day, Mary’s mother wanders too close to the fence meant to protect them and is bitten. In a matter of hours, she dies then…returns. Mary makes the tragic decision to release the creature who once loved and nurtured her to the forest. After her brother rejects her for that decision, Mary is taken in by the Sisters, destined for a life of servitude. The only problem was that Mary didn’t believe in God. She couldn’t bring herself to pray or to forget the stories her mother told her. She’s too curious and that unquenchable desire to KNOW changes the path of her life forever.

The story continues in The Dead-Tossed Waves, picking up several years after the end of the first book. Mary has made a life for herself and her teenage daughter in Vista. She is now the lighthouse keeper. Among her duties is to dispatch the Mudo (Unconsecrated) that wash ashore after a storm. This story focuses on Gabrielle, Mary's daughter, who is very much like her mother in some ways and completely different in others. Where Mary is driven, strong and brave, Gabrielle is timid, shy and very cautious. As the tale progresses, however, two boys emerge as Gabry's love interests, just as Harry and Travis were tangled up in her mother's life. Soon, however, Gabry must choose to be brave and daring if she wants to save those she loves most and to survive the secrets of her past that come back to haunt her.

Ryan doesn't change any of the known mythology of zombies. She doesn't try to make them appealing or, somehow, sympathetic. They are simply horrible, blood thirsty monsters who are destroying the world. Still, the heart-wrenching story of survival, love, and hope will keep the pages turning until the very end. Ryan doesn't focus on how the virus got out or on the science behind it all. She focuses on the people who are left to live on, however they can. Love thrives, sorrow is constant and Mary's faith in the existence of an outside world is almost as infectious as the virus itself.


Ryan, Pam Munoz
Esperanza Rising
7-9
Historical
Esperanza’s life as a rancher’s daughter is a privileged one. She has beautiful dresses, a comfortable home and servants who work for the family. Her birthday is coming up and she is excited about the gift her father will give her…a doll of extraordinary beauty, as he has for most of her life. Suddenly, her world is shattered when roving bandits kill her beloved father. Her father left the house and all of its contents to her mother but all of the land is left to her father’s brothers, a corrupt banker and mayor. One offers marriage as a way out of their troubles but when Mama refuses, he burns the house down. Esperanza and her mother must flee the country or live in misery for the rest of their lives. They are taken in for work at a California labor camp where they must learn how to be peasants. Life is difficult there but they are together and they have friends. Though the work is difficult and other horrible things happen, Esperanza slowly begins to let go of her past and all of the things she misses and settles into her new life with happiness.
This story gives us an excellent view into the lives of our neighbors, the Mexicans. Ryan writes with feeling as only one who has witnessed this situation personally. Esperanza was loosely based on Ryan’s grandmother who immigrated to the United States during the 1930’s. This personal connection is evidenced in that, as the reader, you actually feel the characters frustrations, anger and fear. I highly recommend this multi-cultural novel to anyone who wants to learn about another culture or who just wants a good book!

S
Schrefer, Eliot
The Deadly Sister
Abby is the peacemaker in the family. When her parents fight, she tries to smooth ruffled feathers. When her sister Maya screws up (flunks classes, takes drugs, comes home late or not at all...) she covers for her. She's the big sister, it's her duty, right? Somethings, however, can't be covered up. Murder, for instance. Maya's tutor and local hottie, Jefferson Andrews, turns up dead, all evidence points directly at Maya. Abby, desperate to protect her little sister, helps her escape then launches her own investigation. She uncovers things about people she thought she knew, things she wishes she didn't know. First of all, Jefferson is not the golden boy he pretends to be. He's a drug dealer and user, and not just of drugs. He is adept at drawing people in, especially girls, using them then tossing them aside like garbage. Abby has watch this process time and time again. She warned Maya, who wouldn't listen until it was too late. Maya's conviction may be inevitable but the real shocker is yet to come.

Okay, this one caught me COMPLETELY off guard, and that is very hard to do. Mr. Schrefer is adept at hiding clues so well that, even after the story is over, you keep thinking back to try to figure them out...sort of like you had to do with the movie The Sixth Sense. This is a top-notch thriller but for the older teen. There's a fair amount of drug use mentioned and some rather nefarious characters that make it more rated R than PG 13. The murder itself is pretty gruesome. I was hoping this would be a good book for my students who really liked Dead Girls Don't Write Letters and Acceleration but there's just too much information for me to be comfortable recommending it to them. Older students who enjoy a good thriller with pull-the-rug-out-from-under- you endings, this is a great choice!!!

Scieszka, Jon
Knucklehead
Can you imagine what it would be like to grow up in a house full of boys? The mayhem, the smelly socks, the toy soldiers underfoot! Jon Scieszka knows exactly what it's like because he is number 2 of 6 boys! Boys, as everyone knows, are very different from girls. The Scieszka household is proof positive, if ever you needed it. Their routine is filled with daily wrestling matches, massive games of war, re-enacting cartoons and Three Stooges stunts (Boink!) and floors strewn with dirty clothes and comic books. But, if you know anything about Jon, you know that there was also an awful lot of laughter and jokes. If you like to laugh and want to know what makes boys tick, this is a great book to read! Scieszka remains one of my favorite authors and this book ranks up there with Gary Paulsen's book, How Angel Petersen God His Name in hilarity.

Scott, Elizabeth
Between Here and Forever
Abby is the quiet, average looking sister. Tess is charismatic, beautiful, sweet, out-going...perfect. Abby isn't bitter, there's really no use being so because she can't change the way things are. Things do change themselves, though, and sometimes for the worse. Tess is now lying in the hospital in a coma and Abby is determined that she's going to wake her up. Ever since the accident, Abby comes to the hospital every day. Sometimes she sees Tess's eyes move but no one believes her. They just smile and turn away, pity rolling off of them in waves. One afternoon something else changes. Eli, the most beautiful boy anyone's ever seen starts working in the hospital and, upon hearing his voice, Abby is certain that Tess moved her eyes again. He's just her type so he's going to be the one to wake her up. Some surprising things begin to happen and Abby is just not sure what to make of them. When Eli visits Tess, it's Abby he talks to, confides in, telling her a painful secret and Abby sees that he's not perfect either. Then she figures something out about her perfect sister, something that was right in front of her the whole time but she missed, something that proves what everyone else close to Tess has always known...Tess is not perfect. No one is but what will it mean for Abby? Can she accept imperfection in Tess, Eli, herself?

This is NOT The Clique or Gossip Girls but it is Chick Lit...with substance. Elizabeth Scott is more like Sarah Dessen or Laurie Halse Anderson...writing books for girls with brains and complexity. The characters are real and believable as are the situations in which they find themselves. Readers will understand that it's Abby who needs to wake up and truly see herself as others do. They will come to know Tess as she truly is right along side Abby and will feel the moment of revelation just as strongly. Eli is not just the love interest. He is a real person with flaws and issues of his own. In many ways, he's a lot like Tess; judged by his looks than for who he really is. The story wraps up nicely...happily but not too sappy. Fans of chick lit will cheer as they read this one!

Scott, Mindi
Freefall
Death is inevitable, everyone knows that, but you're not supposed to die until you're old, right? Seth had never thought much about death until the morning he found his best friend and fellow band mate Isaac lying under the bushes. He looked like he was just passed out on his back but when Seth nudged him to get up, Isaac didn't move. Just like that, life careened off course leaving Seth floundering and devastated. He blamed himself. Why hadn't he made sure Isaac got home or put him on the couch inside? The numbing effect of alcohol was not even enough to dull the pain and playing in their band has become impossible because he has developed a debilitating case of stage fright. A chance encounter with beautiful Rosetta brings about an unexpected change. Rosetta's life, from the outside, seems perfect. She has popular friends and lots of money. Things are not what they seem, however. Rosetta has had tragedy strike at her heart, as well, but together they make a pact to help each other through the painful memories and move past blaming themselves for things out of their control.

Despite the depressing events and the gritty setting, this is an uplifting story of a young man who realizes that he needs to pick himself up and make some changes, if he's to survive life. The multidimensional teen characters are engaging; the plot, thought provoking. The death of a teen due to heavy alcohol use is not a new theme but one that cannot be driven home too often. Give this book to readers of Alex Flinn's edgy stories. For more horrifying lessons in the dangers of drug abuse, send them over to Ellen Hopkins Crank novels.

Sedgwick, Marcus
The Dark Horse
6th - 8th
Fantasy
High in the hill caves the villagers hunted the wolves, though everyone knew that wolves lived in the forest. A torch was brought to light their way through the cave to their prey when suddenly they attacked. Wolves poured out of the cave's mouth and took with them the lives of several villagers before disappearing down the mountain leaving the stunned people staring at what was left behind. A little girl stood naked, filthy and frightened. Sigurd and his father spoke up for her against the tribe's cruel leader who meant to leave her there and took her home to live. The tribe soon discovered she had a rare and, to some, fearful gift. She was able to speak with and understand animals. Because of this power, she was always on the outside. When she and Sigurd find a strange box and an even stranger man shows up to claim it, life in the village will forever and tragically be changed. What does this box have inside that pulls at Mouse but frightens her and what will become of the village and her adopted family?
This story of suspense and drama will draw you into it's world and urge you on as it's truth unfolds to the dramatic ending. The story is told in a series of chapters with diary-like entries in between, which gives you important background information about the characters. There were times that the story got a bit confusing because of this technique and I was a bit confused about the dark horse until I finally realized that they were a people called The Dark Horse, but I found it gripping, none the less.

Sedgwick, Marcus
The Dark Flight Down
7-8
Fantasy, Suspense
Having narrowly survived the horror of Valerian's death, Boy is no more safe than he was before. He still does not have all the pieces of his history and things are only getting worse. He is sent back to Valerian's home to retrieve some magical object and is captured by the Emperor Fredrick's men and held in a dank, cold cell. Suddenly, his fortunes change and he is catapulted into the sumptuous world of royal splendor but he is in more danger than ever. In this world, a petulant and insane emperor is on the throne, a murderous freak lives in secret, and Boy is caught in the middle of all of it. He and Willow must use all their wits to escape this madness that threatens to destroy all their dreams.
This exciting and suspenseful conclusion to his story begun in The Book of Dead Days, Sedgwick takes readers along for a harrowing ride. You definitely need to read the first in the series but it's a satisfying conclusion and I highly recommend it.

Sedgwick, Marcus
White Crow
Winterfold is a backwoods kind of place where one might come for peace and quiet but things are not peaceful there. The sea is an ever-present force slowly re-claiming the little town, inch by inch but its encroachment is not the cause of the darkness that seems to hang about. The history of the village is shrouded in mystery which involves Winterfold Hall and its past inhabitants. Legend has it that a local rector becomes obsessed with the afterlife and what it holds. When a stranger, Dr. Barrieux, arrives, the rector's obsession is realized in horrifying experiments that he and the good doctor perform on the townspeople. It did not end well for them. Fast forward to 2011...Rebecca and her father, a police chief, have come to Winterfold to escape the press after a difficult case that ended badly. She is unsure of his guilt or innocence and their relationship suffers because of it. Ferelith is from Winterfold and more than a little strange. The two strike up a wary and unlikely friendship. Each day seems to reveal Ferelith as somehow, dangerous but Rebecca is beyond caring...until the day that Ferelith plays a horrible joke on her. What follows is a bizarre descent into madness or, possibly hell...what will come for you, an Angel or the Devil?

Reading this story makes me think of the quote, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Sedgwick has created an atmospheric tale full of "shadow, illusion and darkness" (p. 110). With each page comes a tantalizing clue; a word, a phrase, hinting at the darkness to come. The girls, Ferelith and Rebecca are excellently drawn and the background just fleshed out enough to add a layer of mist, keeping you from seeing everything. You know that there's something up with Ferelith but, even with the end of the story, your still not sure what! Fans of the creepy will enjoy this one...makes you want to look twice at your friends!

Sedia, Ekaterina
The Alchemy of Stone
Mattie is not like other women. Instead of a beating heart, hers ticks. Instead of elbow or knee joints, she has ball bearings. Instead of skin of flesh, she is made of metal. If you haven't already guessed, Mattie is an automaton...sort of. She was created by, Loharri, a mechanic who wanted a companion rather than just a drudge to clean up after him. He wanted someone to talk to who could converse intelligently with him. So, Mattie has actual feelings and independent thoughts. She can even feel pain and pleasure. When she meets an alchemist friend of her master's, she is fascinated and decides that's what she wants to be. Now, however, she is caught in a struggle the Mechanics who build all sorts of machines, the Alchemists who create potions and medicines and the Gargoyles who watch over those who don't really fit in anywhere and who are the builders all things stone. Her heart, however, is not her own to give. She is still connected to Loharri who holds the key to her true freedom; the key to her heart is on a string around his neck and she will do anything to have it, even the unthinkable.

What a great premise for a story...a robot that can think, speak, feel, almost like a real girl! It's somewhere between Pinocchio and a modern day fable. There are complicated politics at play; Three groups with very different goals; and one lone character right in the middle of all of it! There were spots where the story got bogged down with too many things going on. It is told in third person, with the occasional first person bits from the Gargoyles perspective. The ending was a little sad and did not seem to lend itself to a sequel. Fans of sci/fi, distopian or steampunk stories will enjoy this.

Selznick, Brian
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Hugo's father works in a museum. One day he finds a magnificent automaton in one of the attics. It is badly rusted and broken but it captures his and his young son's imagination. Together, they work to try and fix it. Hugo's father works many late evenings but one night he fails to come home at all. Instead his uncle appears with the news that his father has perished in a fire that burned the museum to the ground. Hugo becomes his uncle's apprentice, taking care of all 23 clocks in the train station. Soon, however, Hugo is left alone again, as his heavy drinking uncle disappears one night. Secrets become second nature to Hugo, as he struggles to survive and to keep the clocks running so that no one discovers that he is alone. A visit to the burned-out shell of the museum where his father worked brings yet another secret to keep. Much like the cogs and springs in his beloved clocks, Hugo's world interlocks with a strange and resentful old man and his bookish but friendly goddaughter and all the secrets he's worked so very hard to keep begin to unravel.

This Caldecott Award winning story is brilliantly told in both text and drawing. The blackand white artwork serves to draw in the reader and to convey the emotion and action while the text fills in the edges of the story. The thickness of the book might seem a bit daunting but once you convince the reader to open the cover, his or her imagination will take over.

Selznick, Brian
Wonderstruck
Ben and his mom were two peas in a pod. Elaine is a librarian who encouraged her son to ask questions and seek answers. Ben soaked up the library atmosphere like a sponge. They took daily walks together around the Gunflint Lake in Minnesota and collect oddities they'd find. For Christmas, one year, Ben's mom gave him a box with a beautifully carved picture of wolves. He dreamed of them quite often and thought of them as his guardians. He knew nothing of his father and only asked his mom once about him...he didn't like the pain he saw in her face. When Elaine was killed in a car crash, Ben moved in with his aunt and uncle, next door. One night, Ben can't sleep. He looks out of his window and sees a light on in his old house...his mother's light. What he discovers there will change the course of his life forever. Rose is a young girl who has been deaf as long as she can remember. Her parents keep her inside of her house because they are afraid that she will be hurt if she ventures out. She can see the city of New York just across the river, it's lights glowing brightly in the night sky. Rose longs to go there and experience the world. One day, she sees a newspaper that advertises a new Broadway show starring an actress Rose knows well. She makes a daring decision that will change her life forever.

Told with different methods and in two different time periods, Rose's story in pictures, and Ben's, 50 years later, with words, Selznick creates an urgency in his newest book, Wonderstruck. Gradually, you realize that the two stories are going to intersect but how that happens is magical. Seemingly random events are woven together by Selznick's deft hand. The characters are well-rounded and very intriguing. The setting is almost mystical, especially the scenes where Ben is exploring the American Museum of Natural History alone, at night! This is a very quick read but proves that pictures are, often, worth a thousand words!
Shaw, Susan
Black-eyed Suzie
8th & up
Contemporary fiction
This is Suzie. She used to be normal but now she lives in a box of her own making; four walls that close in on her so that she has to sit with her knees under her chin and arms wrapped protectively around them. Her box has blocked out all of the words she used to have, so now she cannot speak nor can she eat or sleep in her small space. Suzie's mother insists that it is only a phase that she's going through or that she is punishing the family, that nothing is wrong...she's doing it on purpose. Her father and sister can do nothing but watch as Suzie wastes away. Things change when Uncle Elliot comes by the house to speak to his brother. He immediately recognizes that Suzie is in serious trouble and she is whisked away, box and all, to a hospital. Her mother is angry, so angry and Suzie's box closes in tighter. She finds herself in St. Dorothy's, a mental hospital, where she is surrounded by people who want her to talk, eat, sleep, things she is not capable of doing. But slowly, slowly, she begins to feel safe and to trust those around her until the walls begin to push back and she is able to see what made her retreat into her self-made box and how to deal with the world outside of it.
Like so many young adult novels, this one deals with a very intense and difficult subject, child abuse. Shaw puts the reader right inside of Suzie's head. You are there as each wall of her mental box goes up. You understand just exactly why she stops talking. It's heartbreaking but the book wraps up on a hopeful but realistic note. "The box doesn't press so hard on me anymore, but I'm still in it. Everything isn't perfect yet. But I'm going to keep working at it, no matter how long it takes."

Shaw, Susan
One of the Survivors
Survival has very little to do with challenges or alliances or staying on the island. It means enduring anger, sadness, rage, grief, guilt. It means going on in spite of being blamed, of being alive when no one else was. 24 Dead, 2 survivors. I'm one of them. Joey has issues with fire. A year and 1/2 earlier, his mother was killed when their home burned down. He watched as they wheeled her burned body out of the house. When the new fire alarm system as his school kept clanging and clanging, his history teacher ignored it but with each clang, Joey became increasingly panicked. Finally, under threat of detention, he walked out and Maureen, his best friend joined him. Once outside, they saw orange flames shooting into the air and fire engines getting closer. No one in his history class got out. He watch as they brought burned bodies from the building. His nightmare has only just begun.

This was an intense tale, full of despair and unfairness. It is also a story of hope and healing. Susan Shaw's spare writing brings out such powerful emotions. Through journal entries and first person narrative, the story of what really happened that day unfolds. The characters are fully developed and heart wrenching. There is only a little confusion until you realize that the journal entries are dated and in a different font. It's an unusual way to tell a story but very effective.

Shaw, Susan
Tunnel Vision tunnelvision
It was a typical day. Liza was heading home down her usual path which lead through an underpass in the park. It was more crowded than usual. She stops, waiting, hoping the group of men will move on. She notices that one of them has what look like Micky Mouse ears on...weird. Finally, it's obvious they're not going to move so she make herself as small as possible, not easy when you are 6 feet tall! She avoids their clasping hands and ignores their comments and head straight for her mother, waiting at the end of the path. There's a bang, like a car backfiring and her mother falls; there's blood, so much blood and silence or was she screaming? It's all a blur. It just can't have happened, mom can't be dead! But she is and worse, if possible, is that she wasn't their target. Liza was the one they were aiming for. Now, she and her father are on the run from a major criminal organization, but will they ever be truly safe?

Susan Shaw turns in another thrilling tale. It's not your typical teen thriller in that featured here is the witness protection program. The story is well told and the characters, while somewhat one-dimensional, are interesting and realistic. The ending was more than a bit abrupt and the wrap-up hurried. Still, teens who enjoy thrillers will definitely go for this one!

Shepherd, Megan
The Madman's Daughter
Juliet, once a young lady with wealthy parents, is now a maid, cleaning the hospital in which her father had worked. He was the greatest surgeon in all of London. That was before, though...before the rumors and scandal had run him out of town and killed her mother. She'd always assumed that he died, as well. One night, on a dare, Juliet and several others sneaked into the hospital's surgery theater and found a group of young men performing surgery, but not just any surgery; vivisection, which was against the law. Stunned and hating the sound the rabbit was making, Juliet ended its life and found a slip of paper with familiar handwriting on it. Her father...these were his notes. Following clues given her by the young surgeons, she found herself face to face with Montgomery, her father's assistant and a boy she'd known for most of her life. She is shocked to learn that her father is, indeed alive, and living on an island near Australia. She is determined to go and find the answers to her many questions but, what she doesn't yet know is that those answers are dark and dangerous ones that will threaten to destroy her.

This is one incredibly creepy story...nightmare inducing, in fact. Megan Shepherd retells the classic horror story of The Island of Dr. Moreau in horrifying detail. There is a constant tension throughout, knowing that there's something huge that's coming. There is excellent foreshadowing with a very nice plot twist at the end. The story does not end happily but such a story could not, realistically, end well. Fans of horror will enjoy this, just make sure the doors are locked before opening!

Showalter, Gena
Intertwined
Being a teenager is hard! You have to deal with hormones, bullies, new schools, girlfriends or boyfriends, the list could go on forever. These issues are the least of Aden's worries. He has 4 other souls sharing his one body! Not only do they talk to him constantly, each has a supernatural power; time travel, raising the dead, divination, and possession of another body. Needless to say, Aden has been in an out of institutions for most of his life. Now he is at D and M Ranch and actually likes it. One day, however, he sees a beautiful girl and his life is turned upside down. For once, the voices in his head are silent...completely! He's never experienced anything like it and will do just about anything to feel that peace again. When he is around Mary Ann he no longer finds himself transported back in time to a younger version of himself; he can walk past someone and not know when he or she will die; the dead stay dead and he can't take over another person's body. At first, things are wonderful. Aden and Mary Ann become good friends but then strange and terrible things start to happen and Aden realizes that he's going to have to tell Mary Ann the truth about himself but at what cost?

Gena Showalter's first book for young adults is quite entertaining. The creep factor is pretty high, even if it means that you must suspend disbelief for most of the book. All kinds of paranormal characters and creatures make an appearance here; vampires, and werewolves, and witches, oh my! It's not great literature but girls who enjoyed Twilight, Shiver and their ilk will keep the pages turning. The ending, like so many series books, is only the beginning.

Shaw, Tucker
Flavor of the Week
7-9
Contemporary
To some, food is simple sustenance; to others, it's an art form. Cyril is a sixteen-year-old cooking prodigy whose dishes evoke a whole range of emotions from those who taste it. Cyril is an overweight, slightly nerdy boy who he doesn't want anyone to know about his cooking prowess because it would only make call more attention to his nerdiness and size. To make matters more sticky is his love for his lab partner and school beauty, Rose, who only knows him as a "friend-friend". Enter Nick, Cyril's supermodel best friend who notices and is noticed by Rose. In an attempt to woo her, Nick enlists Cyril's help to cook Rose a spectacular dinner. His food works it's magic but Rose thinks that Nick is the cook. As Nick and Cyril get deeper into their deception, the heat turns up when Rose begins to suspect something.
What a delightful romp through the cookbook of teen life! Think Cyrano de Bergerac meets Like Water For Chocolate. The chapter titles are actually dishes that Cyril cooks up and the recipes are included at the end of each one. Even with all of it's predictability, I just loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone, but be warned reading it may cause your tummy to growl and your mouth to water!

Shulman, Polly
Enthusiasm
8 & up
Contemporary, Chick lit
We all know those people who are perky all the time. When we are being nice, we call them bubbly. When it's too early in the morning, the epithet is a little more harsh. Ashleigh is just such a person. Julie, her best friend and one most likely to get dragged into her wild schemes, calls her and enthusiast. Ashleigh's latest obsession just happens to be Julie's favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. The wild scheme she's thought up is to crash the the cotillion at the local all-boy prep school. This wouldn't be so bad except that she wants to go dressed in Jane Austen-inspired clothing.
The madcap adventure that follows is a delightful romp through the roller coaster ride that is teenaged romance. It's comedy, tragedy, misinterpreted messages, awkward moments and even some poetry thrown in to mix it up a bit. If romance is your thing, then this is the book for you.

Shulman, Polly
The Grimm Legacy
A library is a place where you can go an borrow books, right? Not the New-York Circulating Material Repository! The repository contains objects that can be checked out. You need a doublet to help you design your Shakespearean costumes? They have it. Need a chess set to challenge your best friend to a match? They have that too. Need a magic carpet to take a ride on? No way...or maybe in the Grimm Collection? Elizabeth receives high praise from her History teacher for her research project on the Brothers Grimm. He suggests that she might like a job at the repository. At first, it's all very normal. There are a few other teenagers working there, as well, even the extremely cute star basket ball player from her school. Soon, however, Elizabeth hears rumors of strange things happening around the library. There are secrets too...something about the collection of objects collected by the Brothers Grimm, objects like the invisible cloak from the 12 Dancing Princesses, the glass slipper from Cinderella and so much more. But these things can't actually be real, can they? Join Elizabeth as she tries to unravel the mysteries and survive the magic of Grimm's legacy.

This is not the first book to play on the "possible reality" of fairy tales but it is unique in how it handles the magical objects. Being a librarian, I love the idea of all those magical objects being available to the public for check out. It reminds me of the Bodleian Library and the magic that pours from the very shelves of ancient texts! Fantasy lovers need to read this one, if they dare!

Shusterman, Neal
Bruiser
What makes people tick? Is it the joy and pain of relationships or the love and friendship we always seem to seek out? Bronte and Tennyson are twin teenagers who have had their share of both. Bronte is a smart girl with a strong mind and will of her own. She also tends to be attracted to needy people, strays, if you will. Tennyson is a popular, sometimes bully who plays lacrosse and is protective of his sister. When Bronte takes an interest in the local loner and target of rumors and innuendo, Brewster, he thinks that maybe Bronte has taken on more than she can handle. Brewster is a hulking 16-year-old boy who obviously has had a difficult life thus far. He needs saving and Bronte is just the person to do it. Relationships have consequences, though, and it isn't long before both Bronte and Tennyson realize that there's something different about Brewster and about them when they are with him. How far are they willing to let things go before confronting the impossible thing that Brewster can do for those he cares about and will they all survive it?

Neal Shusterman is a master storyteller with an unrivaled imagination! He turns the spotlight on what makes us human and reveals to what ends we will go to take the path of least resistance. The "magical thing" is less important than what the characters do with it and that makes it wholly believable and makes one wonder what it would be like if someone really could do what Brewster can do and how would we handle it. Regardless of how you feel about superpowers or magic, this is a book not to be missed!

Shusterman, Neal
Red Rider's Hood
6-8
Horror, Fantasy
Red, so named because of his very cool, blood-red, classic Mustang, lives in the rough part of town and lately, it's gotten even rougher. There have always been gangs to deal with. The Crypts are a gang of girls but they stay pretty much on their side of town. The Wolves, however, have gotten more bold and when a few of them mug his grandmother and steal his Mustang, Red can no longer ignore them. He decides that the only way to defeat them is to do it from inside. The only problem is that the Wolves are not actually human...they are werewolves! He has some secret information that is valuable to them, which is his way in but, as he becomes more involved with them, the power and freedom that they possess begins to appeal to Red. Eventually, he will have to make a decision for whom to fight and then fight to the death.
Red, the Wolf, grandma...if all of this sounds familiar, it should. Shusterman has taken the age-old tale of Little Red Riding Hood and turned it on it's ear. He brings it into a contemporary, urban setting and lets it loose. Besides ending too abruptly and conveniently, it is an exciting read and promises more twisted tales to come.

Shusterman, Neal
The Schwa Was Here
7-8
Contemporary fiction
Is it possible to be invisible, literally? To be standing right in front of someone and not be seen, no matter what you are doing or wearing? If you really want to know, just ask the Schwa. Anthony Bonano has heard all of the stories about him but when he actually meets Schwa, he realizes that there might just be something to the stories. He decides to perform scientific experiments to prove or disprove the Schwa Effect. These experiments include the Schwa sitting in a completely empty classroom and wearing a Day-Glo orange sombrero and singing God Bless America at the top of his lungs. No one noticed him. Amazing, right? To Anthony and Schwa it spelled big bucks. They began selling the Schwa's services to do things like sneak into the teacher's lounge and spy, and hanging out in the kitchen to see who was stealing snack cakes that the principal was blaming on the students. The real money, however, was in the dares. $32 for Schwa thumbing his nose at the principal in his office; $26 for sticking his finger in the school bully's mashed potatoes and not get beaten up. But the most audacious and, potentially most profitable dare was to sneak into the local mystery man's apartment and steal a dog bowl. This dare, as it turns out, changes Anthony's and Schwa's lives forever.
Neal Shusterman has written a truly amazing tale. It's funny and poignant at the same time. The characters, particularly Schwa, are fully developed. You get a sense that you might meet any of these kids at school. While the ending is a bit too mushy and tidy, readers will enjoy the laugh-out-loud parts and will root for Schwa to succeed.

Shusterman, Neal
Unwind #unwind
The war is over, a compromise reached, all is well with the world...unless you are between the ages of 13 and 18. You see, those are the magic years when children must prove themselves worthy of life as a whole person. If they don't, their parents have the option to "unwind" them. The unwinds entire bodies are taken apart, harvested, and used for medical purposes. If you have a faulty heart, you will get one from one of the unwound. Did you lose your leg in a car accident? There's one just waiting for you. No one really cares how these unwinds feel about the process. They have their blinders firmly in place so that they only see the good that can come from the unwinding. Three teenagers, however, are determined to fight. Connor just didn't turn out quite like his parents wanted. He's rebellious, disrespectful, uncontrollable. Risa, a ward of the state, just isn't talented enough to waste any more state funds on raising. Lev is a tithe, dedicated at his birth by his religious parents, to be unwound when he reached the age of 13. At the Happy Jack Harvest Camp, the three teens make a last desperate stand. The resulting violence is more than anyone expected...many didn't survive to be harvested, which, in a way, is a victory for the AWOLs, as they are called.

Shusterman has written a chilling future world where it's not legal to have an abortion but, if your child doesn't turn out like you thought, well then... The characters are multifaceted and complicated, as most teenagers are. The society he built is frighteningly believable. The suspense is well-paced, keeping the pages turning at a feverish pace to find out what happens next. Shusterman's masterful thriller is a must read, full of thought-provoking issues that will inspire lively discussion.

Connor, Risa and Lev's stories are continued in book two of the trilogy, Unwholly. Unwinding has reached a whole new level of evil, with the creation of Cam. A young storked (adopted) AWOL challenges Connor's leadership and there's a spy among them. Lev escapes from the detention center only to land smack in the middle of an anti-unwind group as their larger than life hero. It's a new kind of prison with bars made of idol worship and deception. Shusterman keeps the pace at a breakneck speed, as in the first book, and the ending promises more of the same for the final book.

Skelton, Matthew
Endymion Spring
8-10
Fantasy, Adventure
Libraries are full of words; important ones, frivolous ones, dangerous ones and secret ones. Blake stands in the St. Jerome's College Library, at Oxford University holding a book whose pages are full of empty pages but whose cover takes a bite out of him...literally. As he holds the book in his uninjured hand, Blake notices that the pages are not entirely blank, as he first thought. Fine veins run through them, as if the paper were skin. Suddenly, words appear on a single page. A riddle that only he can see. So begins the unfolding of a secret held for centuries. Endymion calls only those who are deserving but brings danger to all who dare to be drawn in.
Skelton captures the air of mystery perfectly. The characters are believable and the situations are agonizingly realistic. The reader can feel Blake's frustration and anger at his parents and his sister, Duck. The tale is told in alternating chapters for Blake and Endymion, who lived 5 centuries earlier and is the mysterious book's namesake. The back story, told in first person by Endymion, doesn't work quite as well as Blake's does. Still, it was a fascinating book and I loved the Oxford University/Bodleian Library setting. Bibliophiles will devour this one.


Skelton, Matthew
The Story of Cirrus Flux
Adventure, Fantasy


Sky, Obert
Pillage
Could things possibly get worse for Beck Phillips? Well, yes, actually. After his mother dies, he is sent to live with an uncle he didn't eve know about. This uncle, Aeron Phillips, is a recluse who lives in the attic under a huge dome. There are many rules in the manor; don't try to unlock locked doors; don't try to locate the basement that isn't there; don't go into the back yard; stay away from Milo, the backdoor neighbor boy. Well all these "dont's" just make Beck want to do them more. In the back yard, for instance, he finds a conservatory whose doors have been bricked in so that it's completely walled away. One day, Beck discovers a strange ability; he wants, very badly, to get inside of the wall and wishes that the ivy would grow up and over so he could climb it...and it does, right before his eyes! Once he gets inside, however, the things he discovers will change his life and the world around him, forever.

Obert Sky has written a very imaginative fantasy adventure story. As he cover suggests, there are dragons but there is also mystery, insanity, curses, and evil disguised in innocence. Some of the characters are not as well defined as I'd like and some of the mysteries and intrigues are not fully dealt with but, on the whole, this would be a good book for boys and reluctant readers. Most boys will be able to relate to Beck, the only fully developed character in the book.

Sleator, William
The Last Universe
8-10
Suspense/Horror
We all have places that give us the creeps. For Susan, it's the garden out back where strangeness seems to hang from every branch. When her brother, Gary, gets sick, he insists on being taken to the garden everyday and Susan is assigned the job. The deeper into the garden they venture, the more strangeness gathers around them. Paths shifting and ending up somewhere else; a boxwood maze that gives them glimpses into something else; a cat that seems to just know things...soon Susan and Gary realize that their fates could be changed forever but at what cost?
William Sleator, an expert in all things weird, brings this gothic/sci-fi thriller to young adults everywhere. With masterful storytelling and engaging characters, readers will be drawn in to experience the almost palpable fear Susan and Gary feel, though for different reasons. The ending is a bit too tidy, especially for Sleator but it's still a great read for fans of CREEPY stories.

Smith, Andrew
In the Path of Falling Objects
Nothing has ever been easy for Jonah and Simon. Their father is in prison for drug possession, their older brother is in Vietnam fighting and their mother has just left them high and dry. They know that if the authorities find out they will be separated and lost in the foster care system so they pack up and head out to Arizona where their father will soon be out of jail. Before long, a car pulls over and offers them a ride. The man and the young girl look normal enough but Jonah has a bad feeling. Simon, however, is tired of walking and accepts the ride for them. It isn't long before the violence begins. At first is just ugly talk, then Mitch purposefully ran over a coyote but worse was to come, much worse and Jonah is no longer sure they will get out alive.

This is not a book for the faint of heart or anyone under the age of 16! The violence is brutal and the trail of death left behind is staggering. Even so, the story does have a hopeful ending and the boys have a chance to live a semi-normal life but they will be forever marred by their circumstances.

Smith, Cynthia
Rain is not my Indian name
8-10
Contemporary
Galen and Rain, Rain and Galen...the two were inseparable best friends but things were changing between them that year. Rain began to catch herself daydreaming about kissing Galen and wondering what to do about it. It was New Year's Eve, Rain's 14th birthday and the two were out celebrating when Rain had decided to hurry things along. The birthday gift that Galen gives her and the look in his eyes lets Rain know that there's no reason to rush, that he's thinking of her too. She heads home floating on cloud nine. When she wakes the next morning, her life is changed forever. Galen was hit by a car on his way home and is dead. Rain shuts herself off from her family, her friends and especially Galen's mother. Ironically, it's Galen's mother, Mrs. Owens who draws her out into the world again when she opposes funding for an Indian camp being run by Rain's aunt. Rain is not ready to join the campers but, when she's hired by the town's newspaper to provide photographs for a story on the controversial camp, she stands on the fringes of it, watching until events force her to come out of hiding and get involved.
Smith gives Rain her own voice all through the book by sharing her thoughts from her journal at the beginning of each chapter. Through these excerpts, the reader is given meaningful background information on Rain's family relationships and her friendship with Galen as well as other characters in the book. All of the characters are well drawn and believable. I highly recommend this one to middle and high school students!


Smith, Cynthia Leitch

Eternal

Guardian angels' job is to protect. They try to keep their charges from physical harm and make a valiant attempt to nudge them in the "right" direction. Their other job is to remain invisible, never allowing the humans they safeguard to see them. Zachary has been Miranda's guardian angel since birth. He's watched her shyness keep her on the lower rungs of the social ladder. He's listened to her worry about what others think of her. He's seen the hurt in her eyes and the the tear-stained cheeks when her parents divorced. All of this is standard GA fare...all Guardian angels do it. One night, however, he makes a fatal mistake one that will cost him his wings and Miranda her life and soul.

What a fantastic storyteller and tale! It's wickedly witty and occasionally campy but always facinating. The ending, while hopeful, is unexpected, especially for Smith. It's a sweet love story, rolled in blood and tied with feathery beauty. Fantasy and romance fans...this is a must!

Smith, Greg Leitch
Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo
7-8
Contemporary fiction
Friends since grade school, Elias, Shohei and Honoria are smack in the middle of a rather difficult phase of their lives known as high school. Elias, the youngest of four brothers all bearing the first name of Johann, is entering the science fair with about as much enthusiasm as a prisoner walking the plank over shark infested waters. Shohei is the Japanese-born adopted son whose parents are force-feeding him bits and pieces of his native culture and slacker partner in Elias’ science fair project. Hornoria is a serious participant of the fair and has undertaken the extraordinary task of trying to teach a pair of piranha to prefer bananas over meat and figure out a way to tell Shohei that she likes him as more than just a friend. Each must navigate through personal minefields made up of family and emotional time bombs in order to survive That Which Is life.
Smith has written an interesting story of friendship and honesty riddled with wit, intelligence and more than a few chuckles. He uses a diary format for the chapters, each of which tell parts of the story from each of the characters perspectives. The chapter titles tell you who is speaking. Because this technique makes the story a little confusing, I would not recommend it for reluctant readers but for those who like the diary format, it’s an interesting read.


Smith, Roland
I.Q.
Q (short for Quest) and Angela are now step-siblings. Their parents are the uber famous musical duo, Match and they are bound for a world tour to support their new album. Q and Angela don't know each other all that well and their first few hours together are enlightening to both. Q, 13, has "nervous hands" and always has a deck of cards or ropes with which to do magic tricks. Angela, 15, wants to work for the government...as a secret service agent, CIA or FBI. Her mother, a former Secret Service agent, was killed in the line of duty years before by a bomb set by a terrorist group. Boone, a mysterious roadie, joined the group as bus driver and babysitter but he was much more than he seemed and, in very short order, life for Q and Angela became far more exciting than either of them expected or wanted.

Smith has written another outstanding story of adventure, intrigue and parents who aren't what they seem. The story is full of suspense, mystery, and slight-of-hand. The characters are mostly believable and the situations they find themselves in keep the fast-paced story moving along at a pretty good clip. While some of the msyteries are solved in this series opener, plenty of questions remain, ready and waiting for future installments. Readers who enjoyed the Alex Rider, or Artemis Fowl series' would thoroughly enjoy this one!

Smith, Sherri L.
Lucy the Giant
7-8
Contemporary
What would a giant look like, besides really tall? This giant from Alaska rescues grown men from bars and young girls from inside of lockers and stray dogs from the street. The man she rescues is her alcoholic father. The girl she rescues is now her best (and only) friend. The dog is Bar, the keeper of her secrets and her true confidant. Lucy's life is ugly, though she is not...she's just really tall. One day Bar gets very sick and she confesses to her father that she has him, hoping he would get them to the vet to save Bar's life but he doesn't and Bar dies. This is the last straw for Lucy. She ends up at a local McDonalds and is mistaken for a member of a tour leaving for Kodiak, Alaska. When she arrives in Kodiak she is again mistaken for someone else; someone older than her actual 15 years and this lands her a job on a fishing boat and a way to survive. On the boat, she earns her place with the crew but all is not perfect and Lucy learns some tough lessons about herself and the world she lives in.
Smith has woven an excellent story with startling sensitivity. At times, you actually feel like kicking a character for his/her treatment of Lucy and you feel the frustration and pain when she chooses to do nothing about it. You want to rage at her father for checking out on his daughter and making her be the grown up. It is a touching story of facing up the the problems of your own life and taking control.

Sniegoski, Thomas
Fallen 1
It all starts on Aaron's 18th birthday. Suddenly he is able to understand all languages, not just the English he's always known. Weirdly, those languages include being able to understand his dog, Gabriel! He also hears voices and is convinced that he's going crazy. When a strange man confronts him with who he really is, the son of a human woman and an angel and that he's the one prophesied to redeem the angels who fell so many thousands of years ago, he goes into serious denial. When his powers and his wings begin to manifest, he must accept his heritage because powerful forces are aligning against him and they want him destroyed and will take out everyone he cares for in the process. He sets out on a quest to find others like him and to enlist their help to defeat The Powers, lead by a monomaniacal fallen one who has been so completely corrupted by his mission that he has embraced evil. Aaron will face challenges the likes he's never imagined and will either prove he is the redeeming Nephilim of prophesy or he will die.

It's obvious that Sniegoski has done quite bit of research on angels and on Christian beliefs in general because the story wasn't offensive to me as some of these types of stories can be. There's nothing new about the choice of characters...the reluctant hero, the beautiful girl he loves but isn't what she seems to be, the evil guy and, of course the other fallen angles and their offspring, the Nephilim. Exodus 23:20 "See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared."

Snyder, Midori
Hannah's Garden
7 - 8
Fantasy
Cassie's life has been a roller-coaster ride all of her seventeen years. Her mother is a bit of a flake and Cassie is the only "adult" around. Every time her mother, Anne, goes through a crisis, they move to another town. They have now come almost full circle and seem to be more settled. Cassie had a major violin recital and her senior prom to look forward to. Anne has decided to go back to school to be a writer. The phone rings one evening and sets their whole world spinning again. Poppie is in the hospital and it looks bad. Daniel Brittman, Poppie, is the eccentric painter living on a farm. As the two travel to see him, they discover that things are worse than they imagined. The farm is a disaster area, purposefully destroyed by some malicious person but as they settle in, things get really strange. They are being stalked by something. Cassie has weird dreams and Anne is acting weird, even for her. Finally, the truth of their family's legacy comes out and Cassie is dragged into a battle between Good and Evil.

This is a well-crafted story of magic realism. You witness not only Cassie's maturation into full-fledged adulthood but also her mother's, which is long overdue. The main characters are fairly well drawn, with the exception of Poppie. I would like to have known a little more about him. Other than that, it was an enjoyable escape through the thin veil between reality and fantasy.

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley
Spyhole secrets
7 - 8
Fantasy
Misery loves company so why can’t Hallie find any? Her father was killed in a car accident which left her and her mother with very little money. As a result, they have to move into a small apartment in another town. Basically, life stinks until Hallie finds her way into the forbidden attic and a view into an apartment across the street. When things get to be too much for her, she sneaks up there to watch the family through the stained glass and makes up stories about their lives. There’s something strange going on in that house and Hallie is determined to find out what.
There’s “Rapunzel girl”, the teenager with long, beautiful hair, and "the hairy monster", who actually turns out to be a young boy named Zachary. Zachary is very unusual. He is 9-years-old going on 35 and wants to be a psychiatrist or shaman when he grows up. As Hallie gets to know Zachary, she tries to find out more about his family and what she sees when she looks through the spyhole without actually telling him that she watches.
Snyder is a great story teller who weaves mystery and suspense into a realistic situation. The characters are very well drawn but some of the more interesting ones, you are left to wonder about. Fans of Zilpha Keatley Snyder will enjoy this book but true mystery fans will be left wanting more detail and a deeper connection to the characters.


Sorrells, Walter
First Shot
Out on the Barrens a body is found; a woman's body. She has been murdered. It's a small town, surely someone knows something about how she ended up out there and who killed her? But no, two years pass and nothing changes. David struggles with everything. He just can't seem to please his father, the headmaster of The Arsenal, a private boarding school which David attends. He's a barely average student, he's not particularly athletic, he's not particularly popular. The one and only thing he does well, better, in fact than anyone at school, is shoot. At the start of his senior year, he discovers that someone who's a better shot than him has beaten him out of a spot on the rifle team. And it's not just anyone...it's a GIRL!!! As if things weren't bad enough. In the midst of this, mysterious clues begin to surface about his mother's death and some of them lead a little too close to home. One very dark and rainy night, David follows his father out on the Barrens and witnesses him burying something that looks very like a rifle; a rifle like the one that killed his mother.

This story will keep you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what's going to happen next. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout this novel. The characters and the situation to which they react are believable. The conclusion is satisfying, if a bit disarming. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery suspense story!

Spinelli, Jerry
Milkweed
7 - 8
Historical fiction
"I am running. That's the first thing I remember. Running. Someone is chasing me. 'Stop! Thief!" I run. War is hell and for the orphaned children, wartime meant survival of the fittest or the fastest. Stopthief didn't know his real name any longer. All he knew was stealing and being alone. When he met Uri, he was alone no longer. He became Misha Pilsudski and Uri created a past for him. They lived in an old barber shop and they stole the food they needed to live. Misha was very fast but also very young. He didn't understand what the loud booming sounds were and why they couldn't go out to see what made the sounds. He didn't understand that the Jackboots were not his friends, for all their fine uniforms. He didn't understand why it was bad to be a Jew or a gypsy. The day he found out was the day he lost his innocence and almost his life.
Jerry Spinelli is one of the best writers for young adults. He can write side-splitting stories and poignant tales of misunderstood lives. In this historical fiction novel, he has given his readers a glimpse of the Nazi's and their destruction as seen through a young boy's eyes. It is not an easy story to read but there is sensitivity and even humor woven in between the horror that you know was there. I highly recommend this one!

Spinner, Stephanie
Quicksilver
6-8
Fantasy, Mythology
Hermes, a seemingly carefree young man, is the personal messenger for his father, Zeus. His winged sandals carry him throughout the living and the under world. He brings luck and comfort to the living and the dead. His quick wit has gotten him into trouble and his lightening speed gets him out of it. In this slim volume, he regales readers with stories of his adventures and the gods and goddesses with whom he exists most particularly, Hades, god of the underworld and of the Trojan war for which Hermes feels responsible.
For some reason, re-tellings of mythological stories don't work as well as those of fairy tales. It could be, however, that I am not as fond of mythology. This story just doesn't seem to flow smoothly. It's chopped up by Hermes, himself, as narrator. The format feels more like a story collection. For those who are true fans of mythology, this one might work for you. Give it a try and let me know.

Spradlin, Michael
The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail
Tristan was a babe wrapped in cloth and delivered to the monks at St. Albans to raise. His world is very small and his hopes of ever finding out his history slim. That changes dramatically when the Knights Templar ride in on their way to the Holy Land to fight in the crusades alongside Richard the Lionheart. Sir Thomas sees something special in Tristan and offers to take him on as his squire. It seems his dreams are beginning to come trut but all is not as it seems. Tristan is caught between the coniving Sir Hugh who takes an instant dislike to the boy and Sir Thomas, the most courageous and respected of the Templars. At Acre, the knights fight a losing battle and Tristan is entrusted with the most sacred relic in Christian history...The Holy Grail. With the help of a few familiar but surprising names, Tristan must keep his wits about him to protect his secrets and survive to fight another day.

This is a terrific beginning to the Younest Templar series.

Springer, Nancy
Rowan Hood: Outlaw girl of Sherwood Forest
6-8
Historical
Rosemary has always known the stories of Robin Hood and his outlaw band of men. He stole from the rich and help the poor; they never attacked wealthy caravans when women were present. There was another part of the story that even Robin himself didn’t know. She was his daughter. Her mother was a woodwife, a healer with magical powers. She was part aelf, magical beings that live in and guard the woods. When she is murdered by village folk, Rosemary sets out to find her father. She cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy named Rowan. Along the way she is adopted by a wolf-dog, saves a princess from an unwanted marriage, is befriended by a minstrel whose musical talent is able to mesmerize listeners and even rescues Robin Hood from the dungeon and eventual beheading.
Springer has attempted to insert a strong female character into the Robin Hood story rather unsuccessfully. Fans of Robin Hood will recognize characters and events from other legends but Rowan’s character is not very well developed and her story is not altogether believable. For instance, we are asked to believe that a 13-year-old girl can rescue a man from a dungeon and, in the process, kill Guy of Gisborn, an enemy that gave even Robin Hood trouble. A better example of a strong female character in a Robin Hood story is Robin McKinley’s Outlaws of Sherwood.

Springer, Nicky
GemX
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be flawless...physically and intellectually? Is it even possible? For Maxo Strang and other GemXs it is. The Enhanced are perfect. Their faces are without blemish. Their bodies are just the right size and shape. They are privileged beyond belief. One day tragedy strikes...Maxo gazes at his reflection in the mirror and notices a small crack in his perfect face, there just at the edge of his perfect eye. Desperately he searches for a cure but finds himself, instead, lost in the slums where those who cannot afford Enhancement live; a violent ugly place called the Estates. Just when things seem hopeless, Maxo meets a Natural girl named Gala to whom he is inexplicably drawn and her brother Stretch who have a mission of their own. They have become unwitting pawns in a much larger game; a game with deadly stakes.

Springer brings home the dangers of genetic engineering on humanity in a tightly woven cautionary tale. Maxo and the enhanced are difficult characters to like, though we've all met people with similar superiority complexes. Springer manages to give these very shallow, 2-dimensional characters some depth. The Dreggies or Naturals are also believable. Parts of the story drag but it's still a great sci-fi tale and would be an interesting book for discussion.

Stanley, Diane
The Silver Bowl
Magic, evil, kings, princes and curses are all woven into this fabulous tale from Diane Stanley, master storyteller. Molly is a maid in the palace. She has lived and worked there since she was a wee child of seven. She made the best of her life there and worked hard but never forgetting from where she came. Her mother loved her very much and passed on to her a lovely silver necklace and another gift that was less easy to handle. Molly has visions of things to come. They come unbidden and at the most inopportune times but she has learned to mask her face when she has them so that no one knows. When she is a teenager, her careful work in the kitchens catches the eye of Thomas, the keeper of the royal silver. She is made his apprentice. She is skilled at what she does, never once scratching or denting the precious metal with which she works. When she is practiced enough, Thomas puts her to work polishing the silver bowl that the royal family uses to wash their hands before meals. The moment she touches it, however, visions come. They are powerful and they show her the death of the members of the royal family! Now Molly is caught between a rock and a hard place. Should she tell what she saw and risk being called a fool, at best or witch, at worst or not telling and watching the people she's served for most of her life die horrible deaths? Her decision is taken away the night that strange silver wolves attack and kill only those of royal blood. She and her friend Tobias escape and realize that Alaric, the youngest son, was in, of all places, the privy when the attack occurred. They manage to get him away but not before the wolves attacked and wounded him. Now, they are all on the run for their lives, not knowing when or how the next attack will come.

Diane Stanley might just possess a bit of magic, herself. Her stories captivate and compel the reader onward. She is tricky, hiding her true intent behind red herrings until the final reveal and she pulls a rabbit out of her hat that was certainly unexpected! Fans of fantasy will devour this book!

Steele, Allen
Apollo's Outcasts
Ever wonder if there could be life on another planet? Ask Jamey...he was born on the Moon! He lives on Earth now but, because of complications caused by being born on a planet with 1/6 the gravity, his bones are not dense enough for him to walk around on his own. A big bear hug from anyone could easily break him, literally. Besides all that, his life is that of a fairly normal teenager, right up until the President of the United States dies and his VP moves in to take control by claiming that he was assassinated. In order to stop her, several important politicians and scientists signed a petition and speak out against her. Jamey's father was one of them. One night, he and his sisters are roused out of bed, taken in the dark of night to a launch site and sent to the Moon for their own safety. Joining them are several other children of petition signers. Now, as refugees, they have to learn a whole new way of life. For Jamey, it means that he can walk or run or do whatever he wants to on his own two feet! For one of the other teenagers, the changes are more personal and dangerous because she is more than she seems to be. Soon the fight on Earth comes to them and they are, once again, caught in the middle of a struggle between powerful politics and survival.

Allen Steele is a man of many talents and amazing privileges! He turned his succinct journalistic writing style into a riveting novel for young adults. His experiences taught him how to write interesting and engaging characters and situations that are at once, amazing and believable. The politics, which might normally turn off a teen reader, are woven seamlessly into the story. The possibility of an insider coup d'etat is a terrifying thought but, Steele made it seem completely plausible. This is a great suggestion for reluctant readers but any fan sci fi or adventure would enjoy this not-too-distant future tale.

Stewart, Paul
Beyond the Deepwoods
6-8
Fantasy/Adventure
Twig is strange looking, even for a woodtroll. He is tall and skinny where the rest of his family are short and round. He is not as strong as his siblings and father. One day, his mother tells him the story of his entrance into the family but the telling is different this time. This time the story ends with him leaving the only home he's known to find out who he is. At every turn in Deepwoods there is danger; creatures he's never seen before, sky pirates flying above, but he also finds an unexpected friend. At last, he discovers his heritage, only to begin another adventure.
As you are reading this story, remember to breathe. Strange advice, I know, but this book is absolutely fraught with danger and near-death experiences. You barely have time to recover from the first one when another begins. It's a bit of a relief, actually, when the story is over. At least now you get to relax...at least until the next installment!

Stewart, Trenton Lee
The Mysterious Benedict Society
It all started with an advertisement in the newspaper asking for children who were looking for special opportunities. Next were the totally bizarre, mind-boggling tests. When all was said and done, only four special children succeeded in passing all the tests. Each was unique in many ways but all had one thing in common...in one way or another, they were alone in the world. Enter Mr. Benedict, the enigmatic, narcoleptic creator of the tests. He has a special, dangerous mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children can accomplish. The Challenge: They must infiltrate the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened where the only rule is contradictory rules. Each task is more difficult than the last and each child is challenged nearly to his or her breaking point. But, the mission cannot succeed without teamwork. Each must rely on the others or the mission will fail and the mysterious, evil Mr. Curtain will gain control of the world through it's youngest and most susceptible members, children.

What a clever mystery! There are twists and turns enough to boggle the mind of even the most clever. The characters are believable and cleverly drawn. The story will grab your attention and hold on tight until the very end. The ending is just open enough to beg for another installment. I highly recommend this one.

Stiefvater, Maggie
The Faerie Queen's Deception: Lament
Deidre comes from a long line of talented musicians. Her instrument of choice is the harp and she is very good. One problem, though...Dee is terrified to perform in front of an audience. She spends quality time in the bathroom before every performance. At one competition, she makes her usual appearance in the bathroom but she is joined by a young man who holds her hair as she spills her lunch. It's all so embarrassing, all the more so when she sees how incredibly gorgeous he is. Luke Dillon helps her clean up then persuades her to practice with him. As they play together, something magical happens and Dee's life is changed forever and not necessarily for the better.

While this is yet another offering in the I-can-see-faeries-and-they-don't-much-like-it trend in young adult literature, this one is a bit darker than most and the storytelling is more interesting. The characters are not all completely fleshed out and there were some really interesting threads that would have made the story even better had they been woven with more detail. Still, those who are fans of dark, supernatural romances, will enjoy this one.

Stiefvater, Maggie
Shiver
His eyes, a mix of yellow and hazel, are intense. She watches him from a distance. He watches her, as well. She wonders what his fur feels like; why his eyes seem so....human. She has watched him out in the cold for years, ever since the day she was attacked and taken by wolves into the woods. He saved her, brought her back home, watched over her. She doesn't know who he is, what he his. She only knows that he is her wolf. Then it all changes in the summer heat when he is human again. They meet and instantly and intensely connect. Love and truth, once spoken, cannot be taken back but the bond that they form is fragile. The biting Minnesota winter is inevitable. Change is inevitable but a future together might not be impossible.

Awesome, amazing, wonderful story! Monster love stories are a dime a dozen, these days but this one definitely stands out above others. Steifvater creates her own werewolf mythology based on tradition. Creating just enough back-story to make it not just viable but enjoyable. The ending is abrupt but satisfying. Mosterlovers, this is a must-read!!!!!

Stiefvater, Maggie
The Scorpio Races
Water horses are the stuff of myth and legend and crashing waves, as beautiful as they are deadly. The stormy seas of November toss horses of all colors up on the beach, where only the bravest of islanders are waiting to catch them. For Puck and Sean, however, these horses and the races are part of the very fabric of their island home.
Puck a 16-year-old island girl lost her parents when water horses attacked their fishing boat a few years earlier and now her family is in trouble. They are about to be evicted from the only home they know; Puck is in serious jeopardy of losing Dove, the horse that is almost part of the family; and Gabe, the eldest, has decided to leave the island for good. The only way out is to win the Scorpio Races. The problem? No woman or girl has ever ridden in the Scorpio Races. It's a deadly game and every year, people die.

Sean is the reigning champion, four years running. He is unbeatable on the back of his fiery red water horse, Corr. He works for Benjamin Malvern, who owns Corr. This year, however, the race will change his life in more ways than one. Sean is racing for the right to buy Corr and get out from under Malvern's control. He also has Puck in his sights and she is quickly making her way into his heart. In a game of life and death, the lines blur between winning and losing.

Maggie Stiefvater is a relatively new name in YA fiction but she’s certainly put her stamp on the genre! The Shiver trilogy was outstanding, especially if you were Team Jacob and like your men rather hairy! She put a different and very interesting spin on the traditional werewolf myth. With The Scorpio Races, she takes on the water horse myth and does it was such passion and insight that this book is destined to soar to the top of the charts, as well.

Strasser, Todd
Kill You Last
You live with someone your whole life and you think you know them, right? That's what Shelby thought but, turns out, she didn't know her father at all. Sure, he liked women and sometimes he stared a fraction of a second too long at her high school friends but, didn't most men do that? Besides, he's a successful photographer and ran his own modeling agency and life was pretty good...at least until the day that girls started disappearing. Now, her life was turned upside down and she didn't know who to trust. Things only get worse when she begins to receive threatening emails and texts claiming to know something horrible about her father. Did the stalker know about the missing girls? Was her dad responsible? Shelby is determined to find out but will her investigation put her directly in the line of fire?

Todd Strasser is an excellent teller of tales. This one will have your skin crawling and your fingers turning the pages to find out what happens next. Everyone is a suspect and the killer will surprise you. The ending is wrapped up a little too neatly and the conclusion does stretch the boundaries of believability but, for fans of the author and those who like crime thrillers, it will be a satisfying read.

Stuber, Barbara
Crossing the Tracks
Typically, the love and affection of parents for their children is a given. Not so for Iris. Her mother died when she was a baby and her father has always been distant, even cold. At 15, things change drastically for her. Iris arrives home to find out that she's being sent away to be a companion for an elderly woman who lives in a very small town far away. She is devastated. Her father is more interested in his new girlfriend and their new shoe store and wants her out of the way. She is angry but powerless to do anything about it. When she arrives, however, she is greeted warmly and treated with more kindness than she's ever known in her whole life. She begins to feel at home in this new place, safe and loved. All is not peaceful in the rural Missouri town, though. A tenant farmer and his daughter work for the doctor and his mother and there is something off about them. Cecil has evil lurking just behind his eyes; eyes that follow her where every she goes. Dot, his daughter, does the laundry and cruel words fall from her mouth every time she speaks. Iris must find the strength to face her fears and insecurities because something tragic and terrifying is about to happen and her survival depends upon it.

Stubers debut novel is sweet, funny, frightening, and wholly satisfying. Her characters are complex and captivating. The use of letters to peripheral characters adds detail and emotion to the story. You will find yourself rooting for Iris to stand up for herself and gain the courage that is just below the surface.

Sutherland, Tui
Avatars
7& up
Fantasy/Adventure/Mythology
Everybody has a theory on how the world will end but there are five teenagers who were there to see what happened when it was all over. Kali falls asleep in a subway car and wakes to find it empty. When the car arrives at the station, there's no one there either. On the wall are scrawled in giant silver letters "THE END HAS COME". Venus and Gus are caught in an earthquake and soon realize that they have do deal with things far worse than aftershocks. Tigre runs. When he stops, he finds himself in an unfamiliar jungle with creatures he cannot believe with his own eyes, one of which carries him from Chile to New York. Amon in Egypt has more clues than any of them but still cannot fully understand all that has happened around him. The five teens are drawn, inexplicably, together by voices guiding them to a final destination where all will be revealed...then the real story can begin.
How can you not love a series where book one begins with the title "So This is How it Ends"? Sutherland is a newcomer to fantasy but this book promises more mystery and suspense to come. I was just a little uncomfortable, as a conservative Christian, at the dismissal of God by the gods and goddesses in the book but it really was an exciting, page-turner, just the same. I look forward to seeing how the "game" is going to turn out!

Sullivan, Laura
Under the Green Hill
A fever has broken out in the US and many parents are sending their children away, if they can. Rowan, Meg, Silly, and little James are off to England to stay with relatives they've never met before. The Rookery has been in the family for many generations and has the feeling of forever in its lush, rolling hills and ancient forests. Excited to explore, they take little heed of their elderly aunt and uncle's warnings and rules. As the entire village prepares for the Beltane festival, a beguiling and friendly young man comes calling, luring them away into the woods. In the fading light, when everything seems magical, the children come face to face with fairies. Before she realizes what's happening, sensible Meg watches as her brother becomes bewitched by the Queen and vows to fight her enemy in the Midsummer War. Meg is terrified of losing Rowan but, once the oath is sworn, it cannot be broken. In the end, Meg takes desperate measures, which change the course of life on and under the Green Hill forever.

As far as fairy stories go, this one is pretty good. There's nothing new added to the mythology but there are a couple of distractions. The extra children, Finn and Dickie, don't have a important a roll as they could have. For much of the story, Finn is traipsing around the manor trying to find fairies and Dickie is holed up in the library reading about them. They do play a part in the end but their usefulness as divergent characters is lost. Still, fans of fairy tales will enjoy this quick read.

Sweeny, Joyce
The Guardian

A four-year-old boy is awakened by terrible noises. He sees an angel who tells him that he's going to be his guardian and that everything is going to be alright. Fast forward nine years and Hunter is on his third foster home and has just lost his foster father to a heart attack. Can things get much worse? As a matter of fact, yes. Stephanie, his foster mother who never really liked or wanted him, now forces all 4 children to work to bring in money. He has a bully on the bus who shakes him down daily for money. So, when his mysterious guardian angel makes a reappearance, helping him with these problems, who is he to complain? So what if his wings look more like the fringe on a leather jacket and he drives a really cool and really loud motorcycle? And if he roughs the bully up a bit, where's the harm in that, right?!? Things, however, are not what they seem and when the angel shows his true colors, Hunter must decide what this angel is actually guarding.

This is a tightly written suspense novel. Sweeny keeps you guessing about the possibility of an guardian angel. The revelation of his identity, while not particularly surprising is still satisfying and watching Hunter begin to make his own decisions, regardless of the consequences is a good thing. This is an intense story with elements of scary realities (kidnapping, spousal abuse and murder, etc) so it might not be the best for young, young adults.

tory but, how to sell it to teens is a bit tricky!