Bookends Archive: 2004-2005


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Bookends -- my chance to tell you what I (the young adult librarian) have been reading. For the latest tips, see this year's Bookends.

Bookends Archive 2005
Al Capone Does My Shirts
by Gennifer Choldenko
Since this book is on the 7th grade reading list, I'm not going to say too much about it, except that I finished it this morn before coming to work, and it was a delightful read. When Moose and his family move to Alcatraz so his sister can go to a special school, he is in no way thrilled, despite being on the same island as Al Capone and a number of other famous gangsters and criminals. After making some friends on the island, schemes abound, trouble ensues, criminals are met. Just another few months in the lives of families living and working on Alcatraz.
Check it out -- you'll like it!
Y FICTION Choldenko

Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee
Pure truthful delight! Six girls (cute but disenchanted and angry) vent their frustrations about life, diets, friendship, money, families, pets, and sunshine in this hilarious book. A highly recommended read, it all begs the question: What kind of angry are you?

as hot as it was, you ought to thank me by Nanci Kincaid
I really had no idea about what to expect with this book. I picked it up because it had received good reviews -- and I'm glad I did. As hot as it was was a lovely book about a summer in small-town Florida, where everyone knows everyone's business, where the school principal is practically the law, and the two churches compete for attendance. Berry Jackson tells the stories -- the disappearance of her father, the running-out of the preacher, the hurricane that sweeps through and the handsome convicts that help repair the damage. Despite being young not understanding everything, Berry has great insights on life and frequently expounds on what she notices. This book swept me right up and I enjoyed reopening it every day.

Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
In the not-so-distant future, people are being marked and identified by a bar code tattoo on their wrists. After her parents get theirs, Kayla sees her father slide into depression and eventually kill himself; her mother blames it all on herself and the tattoo. Kayla decides then and there that she never wants to get tattooed. She joins up with a group of kids from school who are part of an organization called Decode -- formed by people who want an alternative to the tattoo. What starts out as a simple rebellion against the norm turns into a full-out war with the corporate government and the rebel groups.
It's a quick read, but a frightening glimpse of what the future could hold.

Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse
This is a mood piece, telling two stories that loosely relate only when the reader is familiar with the filmography of Akira Kurosawa. Nevertheless, from one who is not, the book is lovely. The front- and back- matter contain curt biographical material of the artist/director Akira; the middle is an entirely different story about a family who has lost a son/brother. Set in the Hawaiian islands, complete with dialect and superstitions (that are more truth than not), this is a simple story about the power of family and hope and memory.

Batman, Detective 27 by Michael Uslan
At the end of the Civil War, a group of southerners combine and create a plan that will destroy northern cities in 75 years -- based on scientific studies of Mendel. In the course of history, 26 detectives have worked to foil the plans, but have yet been unable. Enter the bat -- enter Bruce Wayne, who must now face something more horrible than watching his parents murdered that night so many years ago.
This Elseworlds graphic novel combines Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne, Roosevelt, Babe Ruth and other historical and fictional characters to bring the story to life. The premise is intriguing and the characters well-done, but the writing could have used some more polishing to make it more convincing. Nevertheless, it's hard to go too far wrong with the Batman.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Crime runs rampant through the streets of Gotham, and both Two-Face and Joker are coming out from the walls of the asylum. Years after he faked his own death, Batman is back, determined in his vigilante ways. However, new Gotham officials don't approve of him and announce a warrant for his arrest. Meanwhile, Batman has taken on a new Robin and pseudo group of new recruits (once-upon-a-time gang criminals) to train.
It's a dark tale of revenge, violence, war, and fear, moderated only by the desire of a few strong people who want to make the world a better place. Superman makes an appearance and actually fights Batman to the death. Excellently told and illustrated, this is a must for Batman fans.

Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer
Just let me start off by saying that Joan Bauer is one of all my all-time favorite writers of realistic teen fiction, and her sequel to Rules of the Road did nothing to change my mind about that. BFF is another great book about Jenna and Gladstone Shoes. This time everything is spinning out of control -- she has been made a manager over a teen "delinquent," tries to carve out time for a social life and a little romance, and continues dealing with issues surrounding her alcoholic father; but, worst of all (and hardest), are the corporate intrigues and lies that threaten to destroy the company she loves. Humor, wit, compassion, and honesty are all traits of this fine story.

Black Taxi by James Moloney
So if your crooked grandfather gets sent to jail and leaves his vintage black Mercedes in your care and asks you to run a few errands for his old-timer friends and you know the car will totally set your status at school and you get free use of a cell phone, too -- well, of course you'd take it! And then the A-list girls all want to be your friend and the hot guys all think your car is the best thing around and suddenly you have new friends and dates.... But then you start getting ominous and threatening phone calls about a stolen $20,000 ring and you begin seeing a car following you.... What do you do next? Luckily, you don't have to worry about it because it's not your story, but it is Rosie's, and she soon discovers that bending the law runs in the family....
This is a fun, light, quick read; nothing overwrought or too serious but enough action to keep the reading at a nice flow. Check it out and enjoy it!

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Blankets is an amazing graphic novel that shares two separate, yet related, periods of growth and development in a young man's life. In the beginning it is a tale about growing up in rural Wisconsin, sharing a room and a bed with a younger brother, and trying to figure out life and happiness; as the tale unfolds, it relates a story of first love. Eloquently written and beautifully drawn, this book could easily be a new classic. Well deserving of its awards and praise.

Blue Girl by Charles de Lint
For those of you who dig the urban fantasies like Tithe or ElseWhere, for those of you who enjoy a good friendship story like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or Define Normal, or for those of you who just like a good read (and I won't even begin to list titles for that), this is a great book for you. Imogene is tough and rebellious and punky; Maxine is strait-shooting and rule-abiding and introverted. But they become fast friends. When trouble comes to Imogene in the forms of the school ghost, the school house faeries, and the soul eaters, they have to work out their own salvations -- and the methods are dangerous. Fantasy folklore, dream warnings, the return of imaginary friends, school bullies, and family issues all work seamlessly together to create a story that seems quite plausible. ...Are you sure you've never seen a faery...?
I definitely recommend this one!

Book of Ballads by Charles Vess
And, while we're on the subject of fantastic fantasy, don't hesitate to pick up The Book of Ballads. This graphic novel is a collection of folk poetry rewritten by some of the great fantasy writers of our day (including Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, and more) and illustrated by Charles Vess. Detailed black & white illustrations accompany the poetic text and is a must for those who delight in Faerie.

Bottled Up by Jaye Murray
Pip just wants to escape his life. He hates school, despises his family life, and only likes some of his friends. He skips classes, drinks, gets high -- all to avoid his annoying teachers and his dysfunctional family. When his principal gives him an ultimatum: he either attends his classes and sees a counselor or he's expelled and his father will be called. Pip despises the options, but anything is better than letting his father know he's been expelled. So he goes. Unwillingly and angrily.
Pip's voice is convincing, as is his anger towards life and desire to escape. He's alternately rebellious, responsible, angry, and caring. An absorbing read.

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci
She calls herself Egg, after the tough super-heroine of her favourite sci-fi flick Terminal Earth. She's in control, smart, strong, and a solid loner; boy-proof and friend-proof, despite her crush on hunky actor Zach Cross and her school sci-fi/fantasy club association. And then Max, the new kid at school, enters her life and her whole world turns inside out.
It's a true story for some of us, and I think Kelly Clarkson even sang a song about it (part of it, anyway). It's witty and engaging and reminds us of the importance of friends. Oh -- and it's told in a pseudo-diary format. Enjoy!
Y FICTION Castellucci 

Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Vol 1 by Greg Rucka, et al
A fantastic introduction to the graphic novel series. Convicted of murdering Vesper Fairchild, Bruce Wayne is sent to jail -- only to escape and disappear. Returning as Batman, Wayne renounces his name, cuts ties with his "family," and seals off the batcave. Now it's up to Nightwing, Oracle, Batgirl, Spoiler, and Alfred to seek out the real evidence and bring Bruce Wayne back -- proven innocent.
Another great Batman GN; I'm looking forward to getting the second volume!

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams
Young adult mysteries are coming out of the woodwork -- or through the looking-glass, as the case may be. Ingrid, soccer extraordinaire and budding actress, is the last person to see Cracked-up Kate alive -- the last person besides the murderer, that is. Now her shoes are at the crime scene and she is determined to get them back and hide the evidence from the police. But things run amuck and she begins leaving more and more evidence; so, she begins researching the life and death of Kate and turns up some interesting tidbits that lead to dangerous times....
A great read; I'm so glad to finally have mysteries for teens being written!

Earthboy Jacobus by Doug TenNapel
When Chief runs into a land whale on his way home one night, he discovers inside the whale's mouth a young boy, whom he takes home. He soon discovers that the boy is from a parallel universe and is being hunted by ectoids who want to destroy him. So goes the tale of the life of Jacobus -- living with Chief as his son, losing Chief to the ectoids, losing his holographic mother, and trying to survive in a world where he is alone and hunted.
Another fabulous and touching story by TenNapel -- I love his perspectives on science and faith and family mingled with adventure and hope. Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame) says it's like a combo of Will Eisner and Calvin & Hobbs. This is great stuff that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!

F-Stop by Antony Johnston
Billed as a love story in pictures, this is a great small-press graphic novel. Nick Stoppard is a photographer -- kind of. His shots never really turn out the way they should. But one evening in a bar, one of his friends talks him up to a model for a top designer, and suddenly he's being called out to shoot for their upcoming catalog. The pictures are a disaster, but somehow, everyone loves them, and Nick suddenly becomes the most revered photographer in the business. But when his boss discovers the lies in his past, he's blacklisted and has to find a way to win back his girl and his career.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
Elizabeth Clarry is not having a great first week of school. Her father is moving back to Sydney, her English teacher has come up with a particularly bothersome assignment, her mother only has time to communicate with her via notes left on the fridge. And to top it all off, her best friend Celia has run away again, and no one knows where she is. When Elizabeth begins corresponding with a student at another local high school, she is finally able to express her true thoughts and begin working through the relationships she has with Celia and her parents. Written in hilarious letters, post-it notes, and messages from the likes of The Cold Hard Truth Society and The Best Friends Club, this is truly a laugh-out-loud book full of truths about being a teen in this wacky world. A great read!
Y FICTION Moriarty

Finding Lubchenko by Michael Simmons
One of the best and most fun teen mysteries I've read. When a man is found murdered in his father's office building, Evan's father is arrested. Evan has the proof needed to free his tight-fisted father, but if he turns over the proof -- a stolen laptop -- he risks exposing his little money-making project of stealing equipment from the offices and selling it on e-Bay. So instead, Evan takes matters into his own hands, and with the help of his technologically brilliant friend, tries to track down the murderer. Biological warfare, ex-CIA agents, foreign contacts, first-kisses... this is a compelling read!

Flight: Volume 1 by Image Comics
A variety of comic artists, many of whom publish on the internet, all of whom are up-and-comers in the comic world, have joined forces to create this anthology of comic shorts, full of wit, humour, and soul. You can check out online works by the authors at various websites, but try Image Comics for a good listing.

The Fling by Julian F Thompson
Imagine being a writer -- and having what you write come true after you write it. That seems to be what happens to Felicia Gordon, novelist-in-waiting. When she begins a story about a girl moving into a castle/mansion, Felicia never suspects that within a few hours her life will begin to reflect the plot of her story. A mansion of possibilities, teen appetites, moonlight, attractions, little parental supervision, and a lot of imagination can lead to quite a bit of chaos -- can Felicia write the problems away? 
This wasn't the book I was expecting; but then again, I'm not sure what I was expecting. It's title speaks true -- it is indeed about a fling, but much more, too. It was an interesting read, but a little tedious with speculation towards the end.
Y FICTION Thompson

Girls for Breakfast by David Yoo
Nick Park loves girls -- and he has since at least 3rd grade, long before any other boys his age started like them. And soon, girls and popularity rule his mind. Being the only Asian student in his school, Nick longs to be part of the in-crowd. He buys the right clothes, tries to play the right sports, but somehow never seems to quite make it. And to top it off, he can never hook up with the right girls. It seems to be a plague.
Like poking into the head of a guy obsessed, this book is painfully funny, recounting tales of school misery, momentary triumphs, disastrous failures, wry observations. Pick it up for your full RDA of sarcasm, perception, and immaturity.

Godless by Pete Hautman
"In the beginning was the ocean. And the ocean was alone."
Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading National Book Award Winner Godless by Pete Hautman. This thought-provoking books recounts the story of a teen who, fed up with his parents' religion, decides to create his own -- and founds it on the local water tower (the Ten-Legged One). Jason begins to recruit his friends into the religion, giving them callings of honor as First Keeper of the Text and First Acolyte Exaltus, but things quickly get out of hand -- overzealous worshippers, factions within the small congregation, illegal activities. An intriguing look on faith, religion, friendship, power, authority, and individuality -- and a highly enjoyable read.

Gotta Get Some Bish Bash Bosh by M.E. Allen 
Compared to Rennison's Full-Frontal Snogging books, this is the brit boy's take on life, love, and school. When his girlfriend breaks up with him because he has no "bish bash bosh" (self confidence & sex appeal), the 14-yr-old narrator decides to take it upon himself and become the new "It Guy." A trendy hair salon, dull halloween party, painful rugby game, and hours and hours of angst later, he discovers what it's really all about and how to get the girl. 
Not as stunningly funny as it tried to be; the male perspective and briticisms add some sparkle, but not quite enough. 

Heart's Delight by Per Nilsson
Translated from the Swedish, this is a love story from the male perspective. The first time the boy saw Ann-Katrin on the bus, he was entranced, absolutely infatuated. But now the boy sits in his room, destroying all artifacts of their relationship -- the bus pass, the lemon balm, the record -- everything, wanting the phone to ring but not. His pain and anger are potent and his memories drive the story of their relationship and its betrayal. It's a good read, interestingly told in current and memory.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
If you have any interest in the intriguing life of Vlad Tepes, aka Dracula, and the region in which he lived and ruled and warred, this is a marvelous book for you. Told in a series of letters, stories, journal entries, and memories, this book follows the progress of three historians (and others) as they trace the life and path of Dracula through the ages. Despite the hefty length of the book, it is a fast and enjoyable read, only turning a bit tedious deep into the 400s.
I really enjoyed this and may consider purchasing a paperback for YA. The history is and cultural information is rich, the suspense is well-written, and even the multiple viewpoints add texture to the tale.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Winner of the 2005 Michael L Printz Award, How I Live Now is the story of a New York girl who goes to visit her cousins in England to escape her stepmother and her father. While she's there, she falls in love with her cousin Edmond and war breaks out across, ripping apart the family and ruining the country. A well-voiced story that honestly tells of life, love, struggles, and war, I found it compelling (after a slightly sluggish start).

How it Works by Graham Marks
Seb screwed up -- he's been involved in the drug scene, skipping school, lying to his folks... then his girlfriend breaks up with him and everything is falling to pieces. When he gets beat up so bad that he's taken to the hospital, he hears that a "friend" of his saved his life, and suddenly his life has new purpose -- to figure out who that friend was and thank him. Seb begins to pull his life back together while seeking out clues to the identity of his friend -- which clues point to an ... angel ...? Unbelievable, but with everything going on, he begins to wonder.
This Brit import is a little stilted at times, but the plot picks up and takes the reader on Seb's journey. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it's a reasonably good piece.

In Fact: the Best of Creative Nonfiction ed by Lee Gutkind
Typically I'm not much of a nonfiction reader. I like to study and learn, but to sit and actually read a whole nonfiction book... well, it's not typically my style. But this collection of nonfiction essays is fabulous! Amusing, sympathetic, factual, instructional, biographical, these essays talk about everything from family dinner conversations to hunting wolves in the northern regions to studies in colour. The words and thoughts flow on the pages, making for easy reading, and the stories are narrative, extending insight to others' worlds. If you need some interesting reading (and would like some tips on writing, too), you should definitely pick up this book.
[NEW] Y814 In 

In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
It's been over three hundred years since Rachel was changed -- and now she sometimes forgets what it was like to be human, though she tries to retain humanity as far as possible. With her twin brother and family long dead, the only comfort she finds is in the companionship of Tora, a tiger caged in the zoo. But after years of being on her own, she suddenly finds herself being followed and threatened, despite being one of the most powerful vampires.
Forests was a good book; a simple plot, well-written -- and about vampire -- something we just can't seem to get enough of.
Y FICTION Atwater-Rhodes

Looking for Alaska by John Green
"How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" There were so many positive reviews about this book, but I was nevertheless hesitant to pick it up, mostly because it sounded like another angst book, and I wasn't sure I really wanted to get into more of that right now. However, this first novel is an amazing piece of work. Start with Miles "Pudge" Halter and his new school year at a new boarding school -- he is out to seek the Great Perhaps. Pudge's fascination: famous last words. Join in the "Colonel," Pudge's roommate, who has a penchant for playing pranks, smoking, mixing vodka in milk, and getting a high GPA. Enter Alaska, boarding school femme fatale, master prank player, and the girl who pulls Pudge into the Great Perhaps. Mix them all together, add a philosophy class, the Weekend Warriors, the Eagle, a few more friends, a touch of tragedy, and you have a book worthy of reading. I didn't want to put it down. Oh -- and it's full of great quotations and thought-provoking ideas.
btw -- the author is also on NPR

Love as a Foreign Language v1&2 by J. Torres
The first volumes in a graphic novel series about a boy in Korea teaching English as a second language. Joel hate Korea -- he's homesick, bored, tired of eating foreign food, and sick of the cheesy pop culture. All ready to quit his job, he falls in love with the new secretary at his school, Hana -- a girl he met when he was buying dinner one night. Of course, love is never easy, but falling in love with someone who doesn't speak your language well and whose culture gives you nightmares is even less easy. Now he's considering staying for another whole year. (He thinks he must be crazy!)
Illustrated with a heavy manga influence, these slender volumes are quick and honest reads, skillfully portraying the roller coaster of life we all go through at least once!

Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls by Bennett Madison
When her favourite Kate Spade knock-off purse is stolen during a Many Handsome's concerts, Lulu Dark is bound and determined to track down the thief and get it back, despite having always despised typical "girl" detectives. But when she and her friends start tracking down clues and discover that not only her purse but also her identity have been stolen, the investigation begins to spiral.
It's a fun read, full of pop culture and sleuthing and expected twists (maybe I've just read too many mysteries), but it's a real teen mystery, and we all love those!

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Richard Mayhew lives a quiet, ordinary life -- until one day when he helps a bleeding girl who suddenly appears on the sidewalk in front of him. She is Door; and when he helps her he suddenly becomes part of the dangerous world of London Below, a dark world hidden in subway stations and sewer tunnels. Torturers, angels, murderers, monks, bodyguards, and a marquis to whom everyone owes a favour are the strange characters Richard Mayhew meets, and he just can't quite seem to believe what he sees....
A fantastic story, rich in sensory detail, full of action and twists, Neverwhere is an imaginative story that I quite enjoyed. It's a bit heavier than most of the books I review for Bookends, more readable for older teens and adults. By one of modern literature's best~

Ojo by Sam Kieth
Annie has terrible luck with pets -- she seems to kill them all -- her lizard, her mouse, even a little bug. But that seems to change when she discovers a little creature, Ojo, from somewhere near the drain pipe. When she visits the pipe, she discovers Ojo's mama -- a huge, hungry beast of darkness. Nevertheless, she does everything she can to keep little Ojo alive, while at the same time battling her older sister and trying to deal with the recent death of her mother. Very artistic, dark, and touching, this story gives more than the cover proclaims.

Owly by Andy Runton
One of the sweetest books ever! Wonderful for those who dislike reading, but like a good story of friendship; perfect for parents and children to look at together, good to share with a friend, and even good for teens. Owly is the story of a kind and lonely owl who rescues and befriends a worm who lost his parents in a rainstorm, and feeds and befriends two hummingbirds. Trust, friendship, compassion, service, and kindness are the themes of the two novellas included; and the illustrations in this book speak volumes, despite the lack of actual words. A delight.

Pepperland by Mark Delaney
Star's mother died when she was 16, and she's having problems at school, living with her stepdad, and reluctantly going to therapy. Nothing makes her feel good, and her best friend Dooley just kissed her, and she can't seem to write a song for her mom like she wants to. Then one day Star discovers a letter from her mother to John Lennon and finds her mom's old Gibson guitar, warped and broken. She determines to get the guitar fixed and give the letter to Lennon. With resolution and firm plans to accomplish her new goals, somehow her pieces start falling back into place. A reassuring story about getting over grief, finding support in unfamiliar places, and the power of music, the book is also an introduction to the Beatles and John Lennon and guitars. I enjoyed this read and the multi-sensory descriptions (not just sight words, but also sound and smell) and the recent-past historical setting.

Playing in Traffic by Gail Giles
She's a goth girl; he's a boy nobody sees. When she chooses him -- chooses him, he gets caught up in her colours and moods and needs and drama and danger and mystery. He's a boy ready to give his heart to this exciting girl of the dark; she's a girl who plays a wicked game of desire and manipulation.
A quick read, engrossing; Giles delivers another fantastically readable book.

Princess of Neptune by Quentin Dodd
After high school punk drummer Theora and her little brother Verb are secreted away by a genius scientist while looking for the monster of Lake Philodendron, they are kidnapped by giant moon cockroaches and taken to Neptune where Theora is supposed to compete in the interplanetary Cavalcade of Beauty. Theora's first competition -- hunt down the monster of the mall so the Neptunians aren't terrified to shop anymore. Sounds crazy, but Theora accepts the challenge. It's a wacky adventure, full of space creatures, bad one-liners, album contracts, and fast food chains, and though it takes a few pages to get the story going, it's fun reading if you're not looking for anything real or serious!
Read Chapter 1.
And remember: Knowing things is good.

Scrib by David Ives
It's the Wild West like you've never seen it before - from through the eyes of Billy "Scrib" Christmas, runaway letter-writer for lovelorn cowboys and crazy outlaws. And life is good and simple. Until someone starts shooting at him and beating him up and stealing his supplies and sending him blatant threats. Then suddenly he's blamed for murder and thievery, and Scrib's whole life spirals out of control until he can figure out who's doing all this to him and setting him up.
A charmingly funny book, it's written just as Scrib writes - his voice, his spelling.

The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton
In a post-apocalyptic dystopic society Blay Raytee is chosen to leave the orphan work camp and become a helper to the new bio-indicator. What she discovers, in the house that she comes to call home, is a web of carefully controlled government lies, crafted to keep the populace at bay. She also unearths her own secret history and new talents of her own while desperately trying to do the job she was chosen for and not give herself away. It's a time and place of unsettling danger as well as hope. A good read; I quite enjoyed it.

Sexy by Joyce Carol Oates
Not exactly what I was expecting, but this is an intriguing look inside a high school where a prank is taken too far. After Mr Tracy gives a not-so-great grade to a member of the swim team, forcing him off the team, other members decide to get back at him by anonymously accusing him of being a sexual predator. This is Darren's story, however; his experiences with his teacher, the swim team, and his family and friends, and his attempts to understand and deal with the situation. A potent look into the power of rumor and gossip and bitter minds.

Shattered Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
When two vampires befriend Sarah at her new school, she knows she's in for nothing but trouble -- she's a vampire hunter, and the two just don't mix. So when one of them falls in love with her, she has to break his heart; and, in the process discovers that he has a twin that she wants to hunt. It's a tangled web with a lot of pain, promises, disappointments, danger, and blood; all this makes it an engaging read with two of our favorite topics -- love and vampires!
Y FICTION Atwater-Rhodes

ShockRockets: We Have Ignition by Kurt Busiek
Instead of delving further into the past, this graphic novel shot me into the future during a time after Earth had barely saved itself from alien invaders. The earth's elite squadron, the Shockrockets, protects the unstable earth from pirates, mutants, natural disasters, and more as it is pieced back together. When a surprise attack is launched from within by a homegrown military genius, the team (and Earth) has to depend on newcomer and outsider, Alejandro Cruz, to save them all. This is his story, a fantastic science fiction adventure about rising above your status, using your wits, thinking "outside the box," and being a hero. I loved it!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The more I read Neil Gaiman, the more I like him -- he is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. Stardust tells the story of boy from a sleepy english countryside village guarded by a stone wall, meant to keep the magic folk out and the people folk in. But the boy Tristran Thorn is in love -- and makes a rash promise to bring back a fallen star to the girl he loves. To do so, Tristran has to go beyond the wall -- and has such an adventure that no one but his father could believe it -- he finds the star, matches wits with witches, journeys with a unicorn.... Another of Gaiman's beautiful and rich fantasies.

Sticky Fingers by Niki Burnham
A double storyline of a high school girl and her boyfriend and her friend keeps this book rolling along. Jenna has worked so hard her whole life to be able to attend Harvard, but when she receives early acceptance and her boyfriend doesn't, suddenly her plans for her life get all mixed up. But she keeps going -- pushing for better and better -- then she catches her best friend stealing... and her boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex. When she goes to a party and allows herself to have one drink -- that's when it all shatters.
Good premise to the story -- realistic enough. The description on the back cover doesn't really do the storyline justice, though. Oh -- and it takes place in Framingham!

Top 10: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore
This prequel to the other Top 10 stories, superheroes are being filtered out of the mainstream post-war world and into Neopolis, where they suddenly become ordinary citizens, since they all have secret identities and/or super powers. Sky Witch and Jetlad arrive in the new city, hardly ready for the new life that awaits them -- the new friends, new jobs, and new challenges -- have you ever tried running a city whose sole inhabitants are huge-ego superheroes...?
I have given much praise to the Top 10 books we have, but this one left me wanting. It had its moments, but overall it felt a bit lacking in comparison. Nevertheless, it does show a bit of the foundation of the Top 10 series, so it does carry some good background info.

Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon
A science-fiction piece I didn't want to quit reading! Action-adventure in space -- war, mutiny, space-ships, strange cargoes, fruitcakes. Yes, you read correctly -- fruitcake. When Ky is asked to leave the military academy in disgrace, her father's trading company offers her a ship to captain. Her assignment: take the ship to a scrapyard. Should be a simple assignment, but simple was never Ky's way of doing things. She decides to take a contract for an agricultural equipment delivery -- but in the process of picking it up, her FTL drive fails and she and her crew get caught in the middle of a war. Boarded by mercenaries, asked to hold hostages, Ky must rely on all of her military instincts to make sure she and her crew survive.
One of the most engrossing sci-fi reads since I read Ender's Game. An impressive novel, funny and dangerous and adventuresome all at once. Ky is a great character, and I look forward to her future stories. (Next: Marque & Reprisal)

Trinity by Matt Wagner
A stunning presentation that pits Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman against Bizarro, Ra's al Ghul, and a rogue amazon in a race to save and/or rule the world. The story digs deeply into the history of the six charactes, giving glimpse especially into the shaping of the three legendary superheroes. The story is well conceived and well told and the art is well matched to it. If you've ever enjoyed stories of these three american icons, you should definitely read Trinity! -- I loved it.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When Bella moves from sunny Phoenix to gloomy Forks, she's sure she's in for the most rotten years of her life -- new school, no friends, no sun.... Surprisingly, however, things aren't nearly as bad as she anticipated -- school's a breeze and she begins to make lots of new friends; actually, everything's a little too easy -- until she meets the Cullens, the exquisitely beautiful and graceful family that keeps their distance from everyone else. Curious and attracted to them, she seeks them out, Edward especially, and discovers desire, blood, and terror stronger than anything she has ever experienced.
You know those books that capture you from the beginning and you just don't want to put them down? This was one of those for me. The author's hope to create a strong fantasy book with deeply sympathetic characters and believable perspectives succeeds. Twilight is a great book; I didn't want to put it down! (Don't let the cover art fool you...)

Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Tally waits. She waits for the day she turns 16 and can change from being an ugly to a new pretty. At night she looks at New Pretty Town and imagines how wonderful her life will be when she can join her best friend there. But Tally's new friend Shay doesn't want to turn "pretty"; she likes being an ugly and would rather risk life on the outside than be forced into a life she doesn't want. When Shay runs away to Smoke, a hidden town for kids who don't want to turn, Tally is given the choice by the authorities to either betray her friend or never turn pretty. Tally's choice isn't pretty.
Another dystopic book -- I love those (when they're well written, of course). And I did enjoy this one. It's a bit heavy on the page numbers, but the story keeps the pages turning and I found myself reading later into the night than intended. I'm looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy: Pretties & Specials.

under the wolf, under the dog by Adam Rapp
Great book. Well-written, conversational, insightful. Steve's a Gray Grouper -- he's not a junkie Red Grouper, in Burnstone Grove, nor a suicidal Blue Grouper; he falls somewhere in between. After his mother died from cancer and his brother committed suicide and his father went slightly mental, Steve ends up in Burnstone Grove after landing himself in the hospital for trying to poke his eye out and having severe reactions to hallucinogens. His therapist there encourages him to write his story, like a journal. This is his product, examining who he really is and exploring his confused and violent past. It's a potent story.

Unseen Companion by Denise Gosliner Orenstein
Set in Alaska in 1969, this unusual book follows a few months in the lives of four teenagers who all briefly cross paths with a teen boy who disappears -- first from school then from jail. Lorraine Hobbs is a girl whose love of fashion occupies every spare moment, but whose first real job is taking meals to the jail; Annette Weinland is the minister's troubled and exhausted daughter; Thelma Cooke is a beautiful native who has to leave school when she is pregnant; Edgar Kwagley is another native who hates school and cuts out as soon as he can; Dove Alexie is the mixed-blood whose mysterious disappearance is the center of their narratives. Comparing the characters and their lives to planets on different orbits that travel with an unseen companion, this is a fascinating story about change, growth, history, truth & consequences, anger, and resilience is told with insight, compassion, and humor. A fantastic book for historical fiction readers.
Y FICTION Orenstein

Valiant by Holly Black
While this book didn't capture me as quickly as Tithe, it was still a compelling read in urban fantasy. When Val catches her boyfriend making out with her mom, she leaves home and heads into the city, where she meets Lolli, Dave, and Luis. They live in the subway tunnels and have dealings with the faery folk; especially the ogre Ravus. Magic, addiction, revenge, murder, and love carry this marvelous story; another great tale from Holly Black.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Neil Gaiman said it well when he said: "Emma Bull is really good." Because she is. After dumping her boyfriend and ditching her band, Eddi McCandry one late night is suddenly running down dark streets being chased by a huge dog and a sinister man -- only to come to find out that they are one in the same. Upon being captured, Eddi begins her experience with Faerie, becoming the pawn in the everlasting war between the Seelie and the Unseelie Courts. But Eddi isn't interested -- she's a musician and she wants a band. So she and her best friend Carla start one, with musicians who are so good and so unknown, they don't seem quite human....
This is an excellent read, another urban fantasy with love, rock 'n roll, war, and motorcycles. The more of Emma Bull I experience, the more I like!

What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
Sophie's life -- her parents hardly speak: her mom watches soaps, her father works; she has two best friends and can't seem to figure out the true feelings of her heart. It's the life and love of a 15-year-old girl living in Cambridge MA-- all the ups and downs included.
Sonya Sones writes her books in loose poetry -- brief poems comprising of a page or two mark each 'chapter' division and make for easy, fluid reading. I liked this simple story.

Wonderland: children of the future age by Derek Watson
This first of who-knows-how-many, this story takes place after massive biological and chemical warfare that wipes out much of the population on the planet. Three teenagers struggle to stay alive -- they must fight against the slinks, who are out to capture and eat them and use them in scientific experiments; they must find their own food and fuel.... But it's the flesh-deforming plague that truly threatens to destroy them.
I loved this short introductory book -- it's a promising start and I can't wait for more!

Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
Written in journal entries, letters, and notes, this book tells the story of a program designed to bring students from rival schools together -- by participating in a pen-pal letter-writing assignment. Cassie, Lydia, and Emily send their first letters, and the responses are unexpected -- secret missions, threats, false alarms, exam avoidance, dates & kissing.... Eventually, things get out of hand and there's a full-out war between the schools. Funny and tragic, this has definite girl-appeal.

Bookends Archive 2004
by Graham McNamee 
If you found the diary of a serial killer, would you take it to the police? What if no one believed the diary was real, that you'd made it all up? Duncan is stuck in the pits of the subway lost & found, bored to death with his summer job, when he finds the diary of a would-be serial killer. With no help from the police and no confidence in them, he sets out to track the killer and avenge his own demons. This is a quick-paced book with television-show suspense. Good read. 

Alice 19th, vol 1 by Yu Watase 
This was my first real experience with shojo, and I rather enjoyed it. Alice is a normal high school student, but after she saves a talking white rabbit from oncoming traffic and is in turn saved by her crush, her whole world is turned upside down. The story follows Alice while she learns courage and the power of words and works towards becoming a Lotis Master. 

Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventures by J. Torres
Indiana Jones meets the PowerPuff Girls and Lara Croft in this adventuresome graphic novel -- Alison, whose mother is an archaeologist and whose father is a superhero (the Blue Scarab), is not your typical 12-year-old. Indeed, she craves danger almost as much as she desires her parents getting back together. And so, with her two best friends, she sets out reunite her mom and dad, call up a magic genie, and foil the plans of a dastardly baron whose goal is to conquer the world. Lots of fun!
[FPL does not own]

The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist by Michael Chabon 
Penned and inked by Kavalier and Clay, this small volume collects the long-lost episodes of the Escapist - superhero of the Golden Age. For more reading and a little background, read Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

Another Kind of Monday by William E. Coles, Jr. 
Based somewhat on Great Expectations, the is the story of Mark who is sent on a quest by an unknown benefactor. During his questing he earns money, but also is given the opportunity to make new friends, discover life, and open his eyes to the world around him. 
It wasn't the fastest, most engaging read I've read, but a decent story and interesting idea. 

Arena by Karen Hancock
Arena is a fast-paced, imaginative, and intriguing allegory recommended to me by one of our own teen readers. When Callie signs up to be part of a research study, she is transported to an alien world. Given only a backpack of gear and a manual of cryptic instructions, she begins her journey -- to soon find herself in the midst of a terrifying battle for freedom and life. To live she must escape the dangerous Arena; to escape the Arena she must follow the instructions, sort out the clues, have faith in the unseen, and work with her friends. 
A fascinating tale, this is a book I didn't want to stop reading at night!
Y SCI FI Hancock

Batgirl: Silent Running by Peterson, et al.
I definitely need more practice in this style of graphic novel where the story relies more heavily on the illustrated frames than on any dialogue or plot setup. This Batgirl is the newest recruit -- and she is mute, deadly, volatile, and impulsive. Trained since birth by a criminal, she ran away from her past, presumably in order to find a better future. But now she has to hold up to Batman's standards and prove herself. It's a good story and I'll be looking for more in the series, but be sure to follow the frames -- it takes a little more work for the less-seasoned graphic novel reader.

Birdland by Tracy Mack 
Yesterday I mentioned that I was reading this lyric story about Jed. Well, I finished it last night. 'Twas a delightful book dealing with life and death, school and friends, trials and accomplishments, and family and society. I definitely recommend this small read and its glimmer into learning about life. 

The Blue Mirror by Kathe Koja
The Blue Mirror... it's Maggy's whole world - it's the cafe where she spends her time escaping school and her alcoholic mother and it's the world she creates through her drawing. Then one night she meets Cole, beautiful, charismatic, and powerful - and the one being she doesn't seem to be able to capture on paper. But as she becomes involved and enveloped in his life, Maggy's world begins to topple.
This is an engrossing read - I found it hard to put down; the language is evocative and the story well-wrought.

Book of Sorahb: Flame by Hilari Bell 
Farsala is a country threatened by war, but sure of her victorious destiny. Three young folks, however, are less sure than their leaders, and the book follows their stories: Kavi is a peddler turned spy; Soraya is a war sacrifice; and Jiann is the illegitimate son of a warrior captain. As the war comes, they discover that their lives are linked to the fate of Farsala. This is the first book in what will likely be a trilogy. A little tedious at the start, it turns into a fine tale of honour, danger, outlands, and self-discovery. 

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Boy meets boy, Paul meets Noah, and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, not quite, but almost. It's a little blue-covered romantic comedy about finding love, messing up and losing it, and doing everything possible to get it back -- all in the setting of your normal everyday super-tolerant high school where drag queens are football quarterbacks and cheerleaders ride Harleys. Quite an enjoyable read; important to the genre. 
Y FICTION Levithan

The Boy Who Couldn't Die by William Sleator 
After his best friend dies in a plane crash, Ken seeks out a woman who claims she can make him invulnerable - and she does, but steals control of his soul in the process. Without his soul, Ken feels no pain and cannot die, but at night dreams about killing people. When he meets Sabine on vacation and she explains the makings and workings of zombies, Ken knows he has to get his soul back. An interesting premise, but not the best I've read of Sleator. Nevertheless, a decent enough story. Guys should like this one.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Despite preconceived notions that old classics are stuffy, burdensome, and cumbersome to read, BNW is none of these. The intelligent storyline about a scientifically fabricated utopia/dystopia is written in very readable prose with plenty of dialogue and narrative, embedded with philosophy. Huxley's book examines happiness and morality, agency and control, freedom and truth. I was surprised at how easy this was to read and how much I enjoyed it.

Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge
Fifteen high school students... love, life, school, abuse, discrimination, athletics, loneliness, sex, violence, eating issues... In a series of poems, fifteen high school students share pieces of their lives as their world moves swiftly towards violence and crisis; they tell of outcasts and teens with hate and fear so fierce that they're ready to erupt. Powerfully written, the students' voices are distinct and emotive and evocative in this compelling read. The only problem is trying to keep all the storylines straight from one student to the next, but even that isn't enough to discourage readers.

Cat Woman: The Dark End of the Street by Ed Brubaker, et al. 
Another graphic novel, this brings back the story of Cat Woman. Having been presumed dead, Selina Kyle returns to Gotham; and, after doing a bit of soul searching, decides to take up the mask of Cat Woman again to stand up for those who need a heroine. 

Children of the Dust by Louis Lawrence
Nuclear war. A family hides in the shelter of their home; only one daughter survives the sickness and cancers that come. She joins the few others in the area that also survive, and they begin to build a new community. Miles and miles away, specially-selected scientist citizens have also survived the nuclear missiles in underground bunkers; but, despite their advancements, they are a dying breed, unable to adapt to the new world created by radioactivity and nuclear fallout. When these two groups and their progeny meet, will it be war and prejudice or peace and acceptance. Recounting the horrors of a world destroyed by war and hatred, Lawrence also writes a telling tale of hope, fate, and progress.
Y FICTION Lawrence

Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics by Ted Naifeh
I can't remember if I bookended the first [Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things], but I quite enjoyed it, just as I enjoyed this second. This time Courtney stands up to the most powerful witches and warlocks in town to save the life of a night-thing. Her story is a modern-day faery tale, dark and magical. I think it's wonderfully done.

Creature Tech by Doug TenNapel 
Creature Tech is an interesting story of science fiction mingled with a touch of religion and an itsy bit of romance. Years and years ago a scientist summoned the giant space eel to earth, and now, resurrected by the Shroud of Turin, that scientist and his assistant Hellcat are back, determined to conquer and destroy the world. Great illustrations and good story. Enjoy!

Crusader by Edward Bloor 
After a violent virtual-reality game arrives at the mall arcade where she works, fifteen-year-old Roberta finds the courage to save the mall from a crooked politician, rescue her friends from prejudices, and search out the person who murdered her mother. I expected this story to focus more on virtual reality and perhaps even a knight in shining armour; however, this book was a more powerful story about a girl resolving major issues in her life and coming to terms with having to be her own crusader. A good read with strong characters. 

Cup of the World by John Dickinson
Love, betrayal, power, war, vengeance, witchcraft, and greed are the overwhelming themes of this powerful new fantasy. When beautiful Phaeda runs away to marry a knight she knows only through her dreams, she sets off a chain of events that she could never have foreseen and that bring ruin throughout the kingdom. Her husband, with whom she is deeply in love, wields a power that many suspect, and when he begins to war and distance himself from her and their son, she too begins to suspect him of dark dealings and wonders what price he is willing to pay for all he gains. Well-written, beguiling, and intense, but dark, there is nothing light or cheery about this piece of fantasy.

Daredevil Visionaries by Frank Miller, et al
Consolidated material from the Daredevil strips. Neither light nor fluffy, and I always love a superhero story!

Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce
The story about a girl who seeks revenge on the vampire who took her friend, but then is torn about destroying him when she begins to see beauty and the tiniest bit of goodness in him. An interesting fantasy read about the hazy grey in a not-quite black-and-white world; a different kind of vampire story. 

The Dirt Eaters by Dennis Foon 
The first of a trilogy, this is a book about a dystopic society and the times after wars have ravished the earth, leaving pocket communities to fend for themselves and survive according to their beliefs. Roan is one of only two survivors when his village is destroyed. He is rescued by warrior priests who train him and care for him - until he learns the terrible secret the rules their sect and he runs away. 
The dystopic premise is always interesting, but the writing is a bit jagged, though it's hard to tell if this a literary element or actual writing style. 

Dork Covenant by John Kovalic
Game Stores. Role-playing. Conventions. Collectible Card Games. Goths. Star Wars. Comics.... This is the first collection of Dork Tower comics - about a group of relatively normal people (at least, they think they're normal) who are real gamers. The witty humour comes from the portrayal of their gaming lives and their interactions with folks who aren't gamers (the rest of the world). Many years ago, I dipped my little toe into the gaming world, but my friends gave it up, and therefore, so did I. Nevertheless, I got quite a kick out of this comic collection and hope to purchase a copy for the YA collection.

East by Edith Pattou
Wow. This book was fantastic! I was a bit concerned about the constant voice-change chapter-to-chapter, but the transitions were smooth and easy to follow. Meanwhile, the writing was fabulous and kept me riveted to the story, which is essentially a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but not exactly (Trolls and Norsk lands shift the story a bit). Don't be deterred by the size of the book, for it truly is a reader's gem. I highly recommend it for those who love fantasy adventures mingled with foreign cultures and sprinkled with romance and superstition. It's a wonderful read!

Electra: Introspect by Greg Rucka, et al
Her upcoming movie and her appearances with Daredevil were reasons enough to purchase a book or two of Electra, figuring there will be some call for it in the coming months. I read it quickly over lunch -- it's more graphics than novel, and what impressed me most were the fantastic multiple angles used to portray a single scene and capture the atmosphere and mood of the story (there were a few scenes that were particularly striking). In and of itself, the story is a bit bloody, with much fighting, but this is the story in which Electra is forced to take a look at herself and discover what she really is and face the consequences for her actions. She is given a third chance at life and must decide what she will make of it now. Not one of my favorites, but I am intrigued to see what happens to Electra and where she goes from here.

Electric Girl by Michael Brennan
Nope, she's not cut from the superhero cloth -- she's just a regular teenage girl trying to live one of those "normal" lives -- with her dog, her invisible gremlin friend, and her ability to conduct electricity through her body at will. I read this while I was on the plane Friday, and it was great airplane reading. A relatively simple story (with a brilliant but monstrous little boy, living dead, enamored robots, and more) presented in nice b&w illustrations; it's a good one.

ElseWhere by Will Shetterly
This is one of those edgy fantasies "where magic meets the mean streets." Seeking out his runaway brother, Ron heads to Bordertown, where faery folk and human folk mix and mingle, gangs clash in the nighttime, magic and technology only sometimes work. He is quickly adopted into the group living at Castle Pup, but strife soon splits the unconventional family and he finds himself on the run from those he thought were friends. Forced onto the streets, his chances of survival crumble as he becomes a Rat and River-water addict, gets sprayed with spells, and fights with other gang members. Eventually, though, he starts to discover the things he was looking for.
This is a fantastic read -- gritty, adventurous, magical. I'm thoroughly looking forward to reading NeverNever. (Finder is also part of this pseudo-series.)

Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand by Ian Smith
This is "the story of a girl, her pet robot, aliens, love, jealousy, and a galactic war to end all wars. Oh and a pony. A cute pony." And it really is! I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read -- and I admit, I even laughed out loud. It's really all about the giant alien robots...!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card attended the same university as me and visited one of my fiction writing classes, but despite many recommendations and rave reviews, I had never read Ender's Game until yesterday, and I loved it -- couldn't put it down, in fact (which makes it difficult to actually work...). Twice Earth has been invaded by aliens, and now earth is creating and raising geniuses to combat them -- young Andrew Wiggins, who calls himself Ender, may just be Earth's only hope for salvation. Through a series of games and test battles, Ender passes and surpasses everyone's expectations - but can this boy save mankind? In a totally engrossing study of human behavior and science fiction, Card presents this potent story. Read it now -- it is rumored to be coming soon to film.

Eva by Peter Dickinson 
Imagine being in a horrible accident that left you in an unbreakable coma -- and your scientist father has your human brain placed into a chimp's body. This is your new life, part human, part chimp.... 

Echo by Francesca Lia Block
This is the ethereal coming-of-age story about Echo, who lives among angels and demons, beauty and pain, myths and reality. Though Block's jumps between characters and joined stories can be confusing, her haunting writing and magical use of language and story make this book a delicately edgy mystical read about life and friends and self. Check it out! 

Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going
This is a wry comedy of powerful angst about Big T, Curt, their band Rage/Tectonic, and what it took to get them there. It's standing at the edge of the subway platform, being too fat or too sick, loving ketchup as much as life, playing guitars and drums with all your power -- all that and then some. 
"Drumming's about how you relate to the music," Curt says.... "Anyone can play a beat," he says, "but the great drummers listen to the sounds around them, then add their own part of the conversation." 

Finder by Emma Bull
In Bordertown, where a hybrid community of elves, halflings, humans co-exist, a murderous plot has been hatched to induce humans into elf-like states and spreading virus through the elven community. Sunny Rico, cop, coerces Orient, a finder, to help her seek out the perpetrators behind the crimes. It's a dangerous and difficult task, and one that Orient has no desire to fulfill - until his best friend, Tick-Tick, an elf, contracts the virus and declines speedily towards death. This engrossing read is a crossover combining fantasy with mystery; the interesting characters, setting, and writing style make it even more satisfying. Good stuff.

Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw 
1 nice guy who likes to cook 
1 model-hot long-lost best friend 
1 beautiful hippie-chick vegetarian with a thing for food 
dash of friendship 
pinch of friends 
spoonful of self-doubt and misunderstanding 
Mix together slowly, careful not to over stir; batter should be lumpy. Let settle into a story similar to that of Cyrano de Bergerac. Especially good for those who enjoy cooking such things as kitchen-sink cookies, spicy tomato soup, pressed roasted-vegetable sandwiches, pear charlotte, and other new dishes (recipes included). 

Fray by Joss Whedon 
Joss Whedon is the creative mind behind Buffy and Angel, and now he's put together a great graphic novel about a future slayer who has no idea she is the chosen one. This is a superbly done story & art combination, whether you love Buffy or not! 

Frozen Rodeo by Catherine Clark
School's out, but for Peggy Fleming Farrell, summer isn't really summer. There's her job at Gas 'N Git, her summer school french class, and her unrequited love for a waiter who has hooked up with a waitress - and then there's the lamaze class with her mom, the siblings at home, and her dad's ice-skating. Is there any hope for her summer to turn around? Yes!
I quite enjoyed this book with its multiple plausible plots and relatively realistic resolutions. Fun reading for summer.

The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey
If you like Sleeping Beauty fairy tale novels and you don't mind a rather hefty book, this is a great read. The beginning of the book starts off a bit tediously with background information and buildup, but once the action takes hold, this is a compelling tale. Life and death, good and evil, magic, nature, and a touch of romance --
FICTION Lackey, M 
(See also Spindle's End by Robin McKinley)

Game of Sunken Places by M.T. Anderson
I finished the above book during dinner tonight and was left in a bit of befuddlement over what I thought about it. Boston-based Anderson always writes interesting books, and they are all very different in scope and genre (see Feed and Thirsty, for examples). This book is no exception -- two friends are invited away to a distant relative's mansion on vacation; when they arrive, they find a board game and are swept up into a real life game of life-or-death against ogres, trolls, warring kingdoms, and vintage starched collars. Overall, I think it was a pretty decent way to spend a few hours. It's an adventure in gaming and a good book for guys. Read and enjoy!
Y FICTION Anderson

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger 
Russel thinks he's the only gay kid at school, but when he goes into a gay chatroom online one evening and discovers another student from his school and they decide to meet, his whole life changes. Gradually, the two of them discover other students who are also gay or bisexual, and they decide the create a club a club so boring that no one else would ever want to join -- but things backfire. This first-person narrative is a good read about dealing with differences, forgiveness, and standing up for oneself and others. 
Y PB Hartinger

Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak 
Cameron wants to get the girl. But the girl, all class and beauty and kindness, is his brother's girlfriend. It's a problem -- especially for two brothers who are close. Cam has to discover for himself who he is outside of the shadow of his brother if he ever wants to really get the girl. It's an honest telling from Cam's point of view and a well-written story about discovery, love, and family. 

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
This well-written book follows the reverse history of a painting by Vermeer -- from the current owner back to when the painting was originally created. The only problem I found with the book was the transition between chapters and between owners of the painting being a bit choppy and hard to follow at times. Otherwise, a fantastic read for those interested in art, culture, and/or history.
Y PB Vreeland (summer reading)

Go Girl! by Trina Robbins 
Back in the days of disco, Janet Goldman was a superheroine, but when she married, she hung up her costume. Now, her daughter Lindsay has pulled out the closeted costume and taken on the calling herself, rescuing first her best friend, and then her school football team, and others along the way. A fun comic, full of classic comic charm. Suitable for all!

Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray 
I quite enjoyed this historical fiction of prim and proper English school-girl society that dipped into the supernatural. Blaming herself for her mother's death, desperately wanting to make friends at her new school, frightening herself with visions, being exposed to the mythical occult, and discovering the mystery of two girls who also dealt with the supernatural and became conduits for magic, 16-yr-old Gemma Doyle is an island unto herself. I recommend this surprisingly fast read -- the characters are interesting, the setting familiar, the plot intriguing. 

The Green Lantern: Brother's Keeper by Judd Winick 
Who would have thought that I'd enjoy the Green Lantern as much as I did. Good story line, well-conceived, combining a serious topic with the lightness of the comic genre. 

Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning 
Somewhat along the lines of Pop Princess, Guitar Girl is the story of a Manic-Panic-Very-Cherry-haired Molly Montgomery, front singer and songwriter for The Hormones, and the sleazy managers, intense fame, covert love, blaring publicity, and stark excesses that nearly send her careening over the pop-stardom edge of sanity. This wry and sincere brit import, told in first person, will keep you reading to find out what happens to the band and how Molly copes -- while showing her the power and importance of a single person and teaching her about life, even as life seems to collapse around her.

Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry 
This is a book I wish I'd written! In the poetic prose of numerous voices, this is the story about Rose and Asher, a girl and a boy whose lives of cobwebs and stardust are starting to crumble. They decide to escape their families and school and run away, take to the roads of Australia and discover what they can. I absolutely recommend this! 

Haunted by Meg Cabot 
This is a light ghostly romance with just enough intrigue. Suze is a mediator, a girl who can talk to and see ghosts; Jesse is her ghostly companion, on whom she has the BIGGEST crush but who doesn't seem to return the feelings; Paul is another mediator, hot and totally into Suze. Thing is, Paul has tried killing Suze and Jesse, but now wants to play big-shot mentor and get the girl - it's more than Suze can handle. Tempers and blister flare while Suze tries to sort it all out. Fun story with the high school / middle school trappings of Buffy. Quick, ghostly read.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
When a crazed orphan runs directly into wych-hunter Thaniel's arms while he's hunting a Cradlejack, he takes her home -- only to discover that she has been possessed by a spirit that attracts evil and is the key to opening a gate that will let loose all varieties of monsters and demons and wych-kin. Thaniel, with the help of his friends, must figure out how to defend humanity before the whole world is taken over. This is a dark suspense set in post-Goth London; a combination story of Jack the Ripper, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Edgar Allan Poe. It's a great page-turner and wonderful nighttime reading! You'll root for Alaizabel, Thaniel, and Cathaline and wonder how they'll possibly survive the powerful opposition. Enjoy!

The Healer's Keep by Victoria Hanley 
This companion book to The Seer and the Sword is a wonderful fantasy that spans the real fantasy world and its dreamworld. Dorjan and Sara, two new powerful students at the Healer's Keep, must save the keep and their realm from the Shadow King by joining forces with two runaway slaves. Great reading for fantasy lovers! 

Hit Man by Lawrence Block
If you've ever wondered what it might be like to be a killer-for-hire, this may just be your book. Keller is an assassin, it's his job, it's what he does. But what he also does is go to therapy, imagine how different his life would be in a small charming town, and walk his dog (when he has one). Keller is not just a cold-blooded killer, but he is also a complex personality (and likeable) -- and sometimes cold-blooded killing isn't as easy as it should be.
It's a fun read; recommended for the high school set, though.

Hopeless Savages by Jen Van Meter
Meet the Hopeless Savages -- Mum & Dad were punk rockers; Arsenal, Twitch, and Skank Zero (their real names) are the kids taking after their folks; and Rat, aka Dave Sterling, the eldest son who disinherited his family to go "straight." Those are the players - most of them - until Mum & Dad are stolen one night right out from under Skank's sleeping nose. She's determined to find them, and from there it's a battle of the bands, a race with propriety, and the reinvention of fond memories to get the family back together. This one was great fun to read!

Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero and Too Much Hopeless Savages by Jen Van Meter
Having found the first Hopeless Savages book quite delightful, I was very pleased to be able to pick up the second and third books in the series -- and they didn't disappoint. Ground Zero tells Skank Zero's high school story -- her mishap romances, difficult relations with parents, troubles in school, and dealings with her band. Typical high school & teen angst within this atypical family!
In Too Much Arsenal and Twitch are traveling to Hong Kong with their boyfriends so Arsenal can compete in a martial arts competition. At the airport, however, a stranger slips a mysterious package into Arsenal's bag, and the mayhem begins -- only to step it up when the rest of the Hopeless-Savage family decides to trip to Hong Kong to see Arsenal's match. Mayhem and comedy and drama pull this story through undercover agents, talking birds, murder, and more. Life is never dull in the Hopeless-Savage family! Y GRAPHIC NOV Van Meter 

How my Private Personal Journal became a Bestseller by Julia DeVillers
This fast and engaging read is about a girl (Jamie) whose journal is accidentally turned in as a class assignment. Her English teacher loves it and presents it to a writer's agent, who in turn accepts the project and whips it out to a publishing house, and the rest is history. When her book gets published and hits bestseller lists, Jamie is suddenly pulled into a whirlpool of photo ops, talk shows, Hollywood parties, and popularity, but has to remember the message of her book (hope and empowerment for the normal girl) and come to realize that the best things of her life are what she already had. A decent enough book. Teen girls will enjoy this peek into the life of yet another fictional celebrity teen, younger this time than many of the other recent teen celeb stories. 
[not yet in the collection -- look for it soon]

Idlewild by Nick Sagan 
"A young man is suddenly startled awake. He has no memory. His surroundings mean nothing to him. He knows only one thing for certain: someone is trying to kill him. Unsure whom he can trust, he is reacquainted with eight companions, all of whom are being trained at a school run by the enigmatic figure known as Maestro." While I was being bounced around planes at awful hours of the morn, I finished Idlewild by Nick Sagan. An intriguing book about the end of the world, virtual reality, amnesia, unseen enemies, and unknown friends, the plot twists and turns and is an imaginative, smart, and enjoyable read. I recommend it for those who like to read books with a bit of science fiction or those who are interested in futuristic tales of our world. 

If Rock and Roll Were a Machine by Terry Davis
"Ride fast, live forever." Those are the words Bert Bowden wishes he could live by, but he feels too empty, too beaten, ever since grade school when a teacher destroyed his confidence. But with his interest in motorcycles, writing, and the new friends he makes through them, he begins to realize that strength and desire overcome. An energetic rapid-read, If R&R... is a hard-truth story about a boy and his journey to self-discovery and a new appreciation for life. Desire and strength - that's what it's all about. 

I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
After living in England for 20 years, Bill Bryson brings his family back to the United States, to the small town of Hanover, New Hampshire, where they are greeted by a *new & improved!* America. Imagine after having lived away for so long discovering and rediscovering the abundance, insanity, convenience, food, and words that make America what it is. This book is a result of Bryson's job as a columnist, collecting his hilarious and insightful musings on life in the United States. Each chapter is only 2-3 pages long, making this a perfect quick-read collection of humor!
973.92 Bryson

Invincible: Family Matters by Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker
His father is a superhero from another planet; his mother is a regular human from earth. When Mark hits puberty, he begins to change -- and not in the normal ways either -- suddenly he can fly and is, get this, invincible! His father takes him out for a costume and he has to choose a smart superhero name. When he is out practicing his new skills one night and foils a robbery attempt, he joins forces with other teenagers and gets to play sidekick to his father. Fellow students at his high school begin to disappear and explode, aliens kidnap his father, and his mom makes dinner every night. Great art, catching story, and high praises from Kurt Busiek -- what more could you ask for in a superhero comic?!

Letters from the Inside by John Marsden
This isn't one of the newest books -- in fact it's one I (re)discovered when I was weeding through the shelves, looking for books that no one reads anymore.... Anyway, this was a fascinating read, written in letters exchanged between two teenage girls. One girl has a fairly normal life -- she goes to high school, has a boyfriend, hangs out with her friends, tries to ignore her family when she can. The other girl likes to pretend she lives a normal life with school and friends and pets and such, but in reality, her life is nothing like she says. Each girl has secrets, and as they exchange information and stories, their secrets start to come out.
Y FICTION Marsden, J

Magic Pickle by Scott Morse
Evil forces are in our midst, plotting our destruction -- but dill justice is at hand! It's true -- in the 1950s, the goverment set up an experimental lab and created... Weapon Kosher! Weapon Kosher was to be joined by a team of super-powered vegetables, but they went rotten -- turned into the enemy, themselves. Now they have stolen billions of dollars in art and it is up to Weapon Kosher to foil their plot. But meanwhile he must cope with Jo Jo, whose bedroom his secret lair happens to be under, and who wants to be his sidekick, Sweet Tomato. Villainous vegetables gone bad, evil produce, crazy coco-nuts, food fights, and dill justice -- lots of fun reading, whether you like your veggies or not!
Suitable for all ages.

Manners by Kate Spade 
Manners -- sounds like a bore, but this was a delightful book on etiquette by kate spade, New York designer. The book covers everything from museum visits to pets to communication to social spills, enhanced with fun illustrations, famous quotations, and interesting factual tidbits. I'm looking forward to reading the other two in the series. 
395 Spade

Mars: Year One -- Missing! by Brad Strickland
This first book of a (so far) three book series focuses on Sean, an orphan who travels to join an experimental colony on Mars. It's 2085 and Earth is in shambles, ready to fall apart at any moment. Life on Mars, though, is different than he expected -- he has to study hard, manage the jibes of his classmates, survive the harsh conditions of Mars; and when Marsport is threatened, it's up to Sean to develop the plans that save his friends from death and allow them to remain on Mars when all the leaders and adults want to send him and his companions back to an Earth that has nothing to offer them. This is a light-weight sci-fi piece (no aliens or strange science experiments) with more action than character development. A good read for middle schoolers.
YPB Science Fiction S 

Messenger by Lois Lowry
There is a boy in the Village. He lives with Seer and hopes to be named Messenger, because he runs messages from his village to other villages. But things are changing in his village, and what once used to be a utopia of generous and welcoming people is now a village of cold-hearted and greedy folk. When the boy is sent out to inform neighbouring villages of a new resolution to build walls and not allow any new entries into the town, powerful unseen forces begin to manifest themselves, and only the boy can fix the problems.
I loved Giver but found this second related book (the first being Gathering Blue) a bit lacking. It was an interesting moral tale but not overly remarkable.

Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfield
I was a bit hesitant to read this first of a trilogy, simply because I like this type of book to be really well. It's a story about the strange things that happen in Bixby, OK at midnight - when time freezes and the creatures of nightmares have the world for their own. There are a few people, termed 'Midnighters' who are crossovers into this world. Jessica Day is a Midnighter, but she's unlike the others -- she has more, well, more day than night - and the creatures of the night don't like her one bit.
I actually really enjoyed this story and it was better than I expected. The plot isn't overly intense, and it's interesting. I'm looking forward to the next. (The cover quote says "Fast-paced and spooky...")
Y FICTION Westerfield

Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison
Trapped inside a mirror by her witch-apprentice sister, Mira is coerced into helping her sister become more beautiful and gain power in the kingdom. Despite the sister's impatient daily visits of magic and beautifying, one day she doesn't come. A hundred years later, abandoned by all and left hanging on the wall in a deserted cabin, Mira manipulates a runaway peasant girl and a merchant's daughter to help her gain the magic she needs to escape the confines of the glass and wood. Very loosely based on the Snow White tale, this charming story is about friendship, love, transgression, forgiveness, and redemption. Though lacking a few minor plot details and dropping hints of other intriguing storylines that are never told, this is a spellbinding (ha!) read for the faery tale inclined.
Y FICTION Harrison

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve 
Mortal Engines is a fantastically-conceived piece of science fiction. Set many years into the future, during a time when whole cities are mobile, the city of London is on the move again, searching for smaller cities to devour and new hunting grounds. After having been pushed off London for seeing more than he should have, Tom finds himself in league with a girl who has a hideous scar disfiguring her face and deep-seated revenge disfiguring her soul. Together, they discover the secrets of London and the Anti-Traction movement and work together to defend their beliefs of truth and justice. It's a good read! 
(See also Predator's Gold)

The Mummy's Curse by Yozaburo Kanari 
What a great story! Hajime Kindaichi may be an underachiever and procrastinator at school, but get him on a mystery, and he'll be the first to solve it! When a classmate is rushed home to be married, dead bodies begin appearing in her village, gruesomely murdered by the "Seventh Mummy." Is this a curse on the idyllic mountain village or the revenge of the seventh mummy or another mystery altogether? Hajime is on the case. This is an excellent mystery, manga style. A delight for my second foray into manga! 
(Also read: Opera House Murders)

My Darling, My Hamburger by Paul Zindel
This book explores the lives of four confused teenagers trying to figure out how life and love work. It delves into their relationships with each other and with their parents, and shows how misunderstood and misunderstanding they are. MD,MH has been a staple in YA literature for years, and it still holds a time-tested place. Quick read, honest. 

neverNEVER by Will Shetterly 
This companion book to Elsewhere continues the story of Ron after he's been changed into a werewolf. And as much as Ron would like to focus on finding a way to change back into a human, he has more important things to worry about -- like clearing his friend who's been framed for murder, protecting the heir to the faerie throne, and rescuing his friend who's been kidnapped. It's another great punk fantasy. YPB S

Newbies by James A Moore 
After finally managing to finish this book (short paperback), all that's left is wondering how it slipped past the editor! The plot was reasonable enough, with that teen school / monster / horror thing going on, but the writing... well, let's just say it wasn't fantastic. I'm not going to say much else about this book; it kind of fits along the lines of RL Stine (who is better) and Christopher Pike (whose books I haven't read) and various other teen horror authors. Quick plot notes: new girl at private school, disappearing students, wild parties, monster creation.... 

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman 
Have you ever noticed that in books with dogs, the dogs always die? School football star Wallace Wallace has noticed and he doesn't like it. When he writes an unfavourable book report about Old Shep, My Pal, his English teacher gives him detention -- time spent sitting in on rehearsals for the school play -- Old Shep, My Pal. Reluctant as he is to be there, WW starts spouting off ideas about how the play could be better, and soon he's practically running the show, turning it into a rock'n'roll, rollerblading phenomenon. But when someone starts sabotaging the play, all fingers point to WW, and it becomes his responsibility to clear his name, save the show, and save the dog! Humourous and fun to read, No More Dead Dogs is another of Korman's lightweight comedies. YPB K

Paul Has a Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati 
When Paul defiantly drops out of school after being kicked off an art project, he finds himself in the dull working world. A friend gives Paul the opportunity to work at a summer camp, and soon Paul finds himself part of a diverse group of teens guiding troubled kids and misfits. Taking place in Quebec in the 1970s, this is a coming-of-age story with quirks and feeling. The best part of the book is when Paul is actually acting as a camp counselor. (For mature readers.) 

Pirates! by Celia Rees
This wasn't quite what I expected from the slip jacket description, but it was a delightful swashbuckling piece of writing. Strong writing, fast-paced action, and (of course) pirates and plunder make this a great story following two girls who, in order to escape their none-too-pleasant lives (arranged marriage and slavery), decide to escape to the seas. Definitely recommended. 

Planetary by Warren Ellis
A graphic novel about a group mystery archaeologists with superhuman abilities. I'll leave it short and sweet like that and recommend it. 

Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn 
Wonder Blake is still trying to recover from the death of her sister and accustom herself to a new school when she is "discovered" while working at the local DQ. Suddenly, she is on her way to fame and fortune in the world of teen pop idol-dom. She records a hit single, creates a chart-topping video, and opens on tour for one of the top pop sensations. But Wonder discovers that the price she pays to be molded and redefined by record execs and the media isn't worth losing herself. This is another thoroughly enjoyable book by the author of Gingerbread. 

Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist by Laurie Foos
I believe the subtitle on the cover says just about all there is to say: "a novel about art, bowling, pizza, sex, and hairspray." And that's exactly it. A bizarre tale about a girl obsessed with sculpting sharks whose artist father dies beside the bathtub, whose mother turns to bowling to escape the art, whose new husband worships bowling balls and bowling alleys, and who suddenly is pursued by herds of walruses. Definitely a creative story, strange, though, and I'm rather lukewarm in my opinion about it.

Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve
The sequel to Mortal Engines is as suspenseful and attention-grabbing as its predecessor. After two years of quasi-carefree traveling in their airship, Tom and Hester suddenly find themselves fleeing from the Green Storm, and after picking up a professor-traveler, they land on the ice city of Anchorage. Devastated by plague and being haunted by thieves, this town is desperate for some new blood and ideas. Desperate to save itself from ruin, the city begins turning its wheels towards the continent of America -- only to discover that it is being hunted down by the predator-city Arkangel. A fascinating tale of future times, this book is absolutely worth the read!

Raising the Griffin by Melissa Wyatt 
RtG was an entertaining and thoughtful book about a prince whose family is reinstated to the monarchy - and he abhors the idea. Moving from his home in England to his homeland in Rovenia is not Alex's idea of a good time, especially when he has to leave his friends and his horse; and life in Rovenia as a prince is not all it's cracked up to be. Thrust into this life of fame and responsibility, Alex must learn some of life's most important lessons. A fun read, but left open-ended (check the website) -- sequel in the making? 

Royally Jacked by Niki Burnham 
A light-weight comedy about a girl whose parents get divorced and she decides to move with her dad to the small country of Scherinborg - but that means that she has to leave all her best friends and the boy she's been crushing on since she first laid eyes on him years ago -- and who may finally be crushing on her, too. But life in Schwerinborg isn't nearly as bad as expected -- especially when a handsome prince puts in an appearance. Lots of fun; I could definitely see a sequel possibility here. 

Ruse, Enter the Detective by Mark Waid, et al. 
This graphic novel is a mystery tinged with science fiction set in Victorian England. Detective Simon Archard and his assistant/partner Emma Bishop save the city (for the time being) from the wiles of Miranda Cross and her psychotic-drug laced tobacco, a daring murderer whom no one could suspect, and Simon's ex-partner, who is sure to seek revenge. Good for mystery lovers willing to experiment in graphic novels, this is a well-told, well-illustrated tale. 

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
I loved the introductory premise of this book -- about a boy, Schwa, who is functionally invisible to the world around him. It's not that he really is invisible, it's just that no one ever notices him -- even when he's wearing a brightly coloured sombrero in the boys bathroom at school and singing "God Bless America." Antsy Bonano and he begin to put this "Schwa Effect" to use for them, spying and taking dares for money. When one afternoon they sneak into the house of the old neighbourhood crank and get caught, they are coerced into community service and their lives change. And then this story becomes a bit like a typical teen novel -- truth and consequences, friendships made and lost, money earned and paid, love found and given up. There are a few tense moments, but overall a pleasant story.
[not yet in collection -- look for it soon]

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer 
If you're an appreciative reader of quest adventure fantasies, this is a wonderful book for you! When the berserkers kidnap Jack and Lucy from their village and take them to their ships as slaves, Jack is sure their lives are doomed. But Lucy's fair looks and his bard-talents keep them alive and together for the three months it takes to return to the homes of the berserkers. Once there, however, Lucy is given to Queen Frith, a half-troll, and Jack is almost snatched up by King Ivar the Boneless. But by casting a spell that shocks everyone (himself included), Jack manages to destroy the queen's looks and is sent on a quest into Jotunheim, land of the Trolls, to retrieve the magic necessary to restore her. And that's just the beginning! This is an exciting tale of adventure, magic, quests, creatures, and lore, which I highly recommend to readers of fantasy and adventure. Enjoy! 

See You Down the Road by Kim Ablon Whitney 
This is a well-told story about Bridget, a part of an Irish Traveller family in the US, who begins to question her family's way of life and the swindling, lying, moving, stealing. I completely enjoyed this fun book about a completely different way of life -- until the end, when all those great questions Bridget was asking about her life summarily evaporated and suddenly weren't important anymore -- a swift and tidy resolution. Nevertheless, a fun read. 

Shaolin Soccer, vol 1&2 by Andy Seto
Based on the movie, Shaolin Soccer tells of six men who studied shaolin kung fu, but after leaving the temple and heading out into the world, have had nothing but bad fortune. Sing, the final disciple to leave the temple, is honor-bound and determined to share shaolin kung fu with the world -- and he devises what appears to be the perfect plan when he decides to form a soccer team -- but all is not as easy as it seems. Pages packed with action and glaring with colour make this a fun read for soccer lovers, manga appreciators, and movie fans.

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles
Rob, the most popular boy of the senior class, decides to turn the nerdy Simon Glass into a Prince Charming, and succeeds, only to end it violence and anger. Interesting and compelling.

Sidekicks: The Transfer Student by J Torres 
A fun graphic novel about a school for students with superpowers who are training to be sidekicks to real superheroes. We don't own it yet, but I just ordered it, so be looking for it on the Graphic Novel shelves! Y GRAPHIC NOV Torres

Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman
When Joss, the rebellious harmonica-playing daughter of a famous news reporter, is partnered with Mavkel, the first alien to be accepted at the prestigious Center for Neo-Historical Studies, she begins to uncover intrigues about the school, the aliens, and her own life; then, she takes things into her own hands. It's mystery and humour rolled up into a light-weight sci-fi package. 

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
After all the excitement surrounding the novel, I finally got around to reading it this week -- and what a fun book! About a group of high school girl friends who find a find a pair of jeans, magical jeans, and turn them into the Traveling Pants. Amazing things happen with these pants -- love, laughter, self-discovery, life changes. A wonderfully quirky story about the biggest summer of these girls' lives! 
Y FICTION Brashares

Sorcery & Cecelia *or* The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
"Being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country." And thus it is. A purely delightful book of the letters of Kate and Cecelia concerning the season in London -- the balls, parties, teas, dresses, and beaux -- and, of course, the magical happenings and peril they get mixed up in unintentionally. S&C is a joy to read if you love rich language, intrigue, magic, mystery, and splashes of the romantic. Lighthearted and fun, I highly recommend this (though mostly to girls). Enjoy! (Sequel coming soon.)

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book is always talked about, put on lists, and recommended, and yet, this is the first time I've read it. And I liked it. Unsure how I would react to the serious nature of the book and the topic, I hesitated and started slowly, but the conversational writing style, jumps in time, methods of dealing, protagonist progression, school intricacies, and all the rest kept me quite engaged in the story... which is, actually, about a girl who is shunned during her school year because she called the cops who broke up the party of the year. What nobody knows, and what she can't deal with, is why she called the cops -- it wasn't to break up the party. The book does a good job of showing and tracing her relationships with fellow students, teachers, and parents throughout the school year until she is finally able to talk about what happened to her. I recommend this book, but am not going to spoil it with further explanations.
Y FICTION Anderson

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
After the Xenocide of the buggers, another alien species (the piggies) is discovered. Studied under strict law by Xenologists of a Catholic colony, everything changes when one of the xenologists is killed by the piggies. Called to speak his death, Ender/Andrew Wiggins travels to the planet to discover the people of Lusitania and to examine the piggy culture. Book 2 in the Ender series, SotD has a completely different flavour than does Ender's Game (reviewed above). A book about faith, grief, hope, redemption, culture clash, guilt, intelligence, and trust, it is more complex and mature than Ender's Game with deeper themes and many characters, but it is a satisfying read for the intelligent reader.

Spyboy by Peter David, et al.
A graphic novel of the spy kind, complete infomercials at the beginning of each chapter and sum-ups at the end. Alex is a secret weapon, a spy of the most dangerous kind - except, he doesn't know it. When a gang of drug dealers in his school push Alex to his limits, his true talents begin to show through - he's got high-level martial arts abilities, a gorgeous sidekick, and still no idea who he is. This is a quick fun read of the teenage spy variety.

Spy High: Mission One by A.J. Butcher
Devereux Academy - a high school of hand-picked students training to be secret agents. Meet the Bond Team -- brilliant, talented, and proud -- too proud to work as a team to defeat Stromfeld and pass the semester. But Stromfeld is just VR; Dr. Frankenstein, aka Dr. Averill, and his "children" are not...
I've been wondering when an author would start penning more spy novels for teens - the Alex Rider series by Horowitz is hardly sufficient! This is another Brit import and suffices to introduce the gang and the storyline, which definitely have appeal. More could have been done in the actual spy-world, but maybe the author is saving that for #2. Consider Harry Potter meets Mission Impossible.

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back by Dave Land, et al. 
What happens when you take established characters and events, change one happenstance, and let nature take its course? Infinities - the possibilities are endless. In this volume, Luke freezes before the Imperial attack on the planet Hoth. This sets off a string of events reminiscent of the original, but definitely different. See what happens in Infinities! 

Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper by Peter Hill
If you love to stargaze or would rather seagaze; if you are entranced by the lilt of the british isles or if you are intrigued by seventies culture overseas; if you are keenly interested in lighthouse life or if you don't know what you want to be when you grow up; if you have an ear for lyrical language or if your soul belongs to art; if you study the Vietnam war or have an interest in odd hobbies; or perchance you just like to read memoirs and discover what makes a person -- this is the delightfully told story of a young man who spent six months as a lighthouse keeper. This is a coming-of-age story, an elegy to lighthouse keepers, a comedy of life, and a study on the quirks and passions that make up a person. I loved this book and highly recommend it.
Y B Hill

Stormbreaker; Skeleton Key; Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz 
If you sometimes think that life as a spy would suit you much better than sitting for a long and dreary day at school, perhaps you should spend some time with Alex Rider, a 14-year-old boy who is coerced into the spy business after his uncle's murder. Gadgets, intrigue, threats, mystery, adventure, saving the world -- Alex's new life has everything one would expect in the life of a young spy. 
Y FICTION Horowitz

Sunshine by Robin McKinley 
Let one of my favourite writers weave a story about vampires, sunshine, delectable desserts, uncommon friends, magical wards, and a world full of Others, and out turns an engrossing story about a young woman and her unnatural connection to a warring band of vampires and her calling to destroy them. A heavier book, better suited for the more mature crowd, I was compelled to stay up late into the night to finish it. (Neil Gaiman liked it, too.) 

Superman on the Couch by Danny Fingeroth
This book is a little more on the educational side -- it's a nonfiction book that discusses what superheroes (and our fascination with them) really tell us about ourselves and our society. It's a little bit comic book, a little bit psychology, a little bit explication, and a little bit history, all written up together in this interesting study. If you're writing a paper on superheroes or just want to read up on America's fascination, request this book.
[FPL does not own]

The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
Sometime in the future... Cosmo Hill, orphan, escapes the testing lab called home. But the unaccustomed to the wide-open world, he almost dies before he is rescued by an motley group of youth -- the Supernaturalists -- those who can see creatures that regular people can't. He joins them in their fight against the Parasites, strange blue creatures that suck the life out of ailing humans. After one of these fights, they find themselves captured by the world's most powerful company. Their lives teetering on the edge, they discover a web more tangled than they ever imagined. Colfer delivers a typical Colfer story -- excitement, plot twists, good characters. Fun reading.
Y SCI FI Colfer

Swords for Hire by Will Allen 
"Once upon a time In the ancient kindom Parmell, a king is imprisoned in a deep dungeon where he is guarded by the inhuman Boneman, his evil (and very strange) brother takes the throne He puts worms on his head!, kidnaps a beautiful girl Will she even have to marry him?, and threatens the very existance of the kingdom. Now there's only one hope..." Based on The Princess Bride, this is an entertaining story of a farmboy who saves a king, a kingdom, and a beautiful girl. Enjoy! 

Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen 
Arthur is king but his country is not 100% behind him -- especially Morgause, queen of the north, who feels her sons are the rightful heirs to the throne. Merlinnus devises the sword in the stone -- the King's Test -- meant to convince all that Arthur is the rightful king of Britain. But what happens if someone else pulls the sword from the stone before Arthur? Another mythical story from Jane Yolen, who also wrote the Young Merlin Trilogy

Thirsty by M.T. Anderson 
A story that takes place in Massachusetts about a cursed boy who discovers he is turning into a vampire. If you like normal-kid-turning-into-monster books, this may be a good option for you. 

This Time of Darkness by H.M. Hoover 
This futuristic novel sets Amy in the City, where she has lived all her life in cramped and filthy conditions. Because she has learned how to read, she is a threat to the Authorities, and they seek to discourage her from her imaginings. And then she meets Axel, a boy who claims to have come from the outside where there is sunshine and rain and real food. Together they embark on a quest to find their way out of the City. An interesting futuristic tale of a world that could actually become. 

Tithe by Holly Black
Definitely one of my new favourites, this is an edgy moderne faerie tale about a changeling, now teenage girl, nomadic and independent and fierce, who gets caught up in an ancient battle between faerie kingdoms. Sparking with angst, tripping in dark fantastic, woven with love lines, this sharp story is fast-moving and involving. (Language and themes make it appropriate for older readers.) Fantastic! 

Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel
I've been waiting for this one for a couple of months now -- ever since I heard it was being published. This is a great story about a boy and his dog -- and his Tyrannosaurus Rex. When Ely's golden retriever, Tommy, is hit by a car, Ely is in despair. His parents send him off to grandpa's farm to work for the summer and help ease his mind. But there he is bullyed by neighbour boys and misses Tommy even more -- until he discovers and trains a tyrannosaurus rex and his whole world changes. Accompanied by detailed b&w illustrations, this is a wonderful story about heartbreak and forgiveness and enemies and family and hard work and hope and despair. (Try Iron Giant and Old Yeller.) Another recommendation.
Already optioned by Universal Pictures, this will be a new classic in comic literature. 
Looking for more? Try Creature Tech, also.

Top 10 by Alan Moore, et al. 
Graphic novel/comic book, multi-eisner award winner, this is a fantastic piece of illustrated fiction about a city where every citizen has a unusual powers/abilities, as well as an alter-ego and costume, and the precinct that polices them. Robyn Singer (aka Toy Box), newest officer in Precinct 10, joins forces with Smax, Dust Devil, Girl One, Peregrine, JetMan and other to go head to head with a zen cab driver, hyperdrene dealers, an alien serial killer, ultra-mice, Gograh, and much more. If you like super-hero comics with a twist, you'll enjoy Top 10
(Also, Top Ten Book Two)

Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce
Aly, daughter of Alanna and George, yearns to be a spy, to find something intriguing and useful to throw her energy into. After an argument with her mother, Aly decides to spend some time with friends -- but before she arrives at their home, she is kidnapped and sold as slave to a Duke in a neighboring kingdom. When the Duke's family is exiled from their land, the trickster god Kyprioth recruits Aly to protect the family and their servants and assist with his plans to trick his brother and sister gods. Thus begin Aly's adventures. Revolts are planned, assassination attempts foiled, and spies placed, all testing Aly's intelligence, wits, and stamina. Another fine tale from one of fantasy's most beloved authors, this pair of books tells the whole story of Aly's adventures, dangers, cleverness, and romance. Unlike her other series, the stories of Aly will not be a quartet like Pierce's other books -- there are just these two. Great reading -- especially if you have read the Alanna series and love clever fantasy!

The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks 
A quick read about two best friends who start their freshman year together, but when Sari falls for a popular guy and spends all her time trying to get him, Jess feels left behind and lonely. She doesn't understand Sari's new obsession, and suddenly their friendship goes rocky and disintegrates. If you like friendship books with a bit of misunderstood romance and school trauma, try this one! 
Y FICTION Fredericks 

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber 
Raven, a goth outcast in her small normal town, is obsessed with vampires and the darkness. When a family moves into the haunted mansion on Benson Hill, rumours that they are vampires take flight and soon everyone in town is convinced. Raven, needing to know the truth, breaks into the house and discovers the love of her life. But is Alexander a real vampire, or just a dark artist? Raven and her Gothic Mate mix things up in the town before everything goes haywire.
I enjoyed this one -- though dark in shadow, it was lightweight and upbeat -- and who hasn't felt like the outcast, longing to find the one person in the world who understands?
Y FICTION Schreiber

Vogelein: the Clockwork Faerie by Jane Irwin 
A delightful piece of fantasy fiction in graphic novel form. Vogelein is a mechanical fairy who requires winding every 24 hours to remain alive. After her caretaker dies, she ventures into the world to find a new caretaker and friend and discovers more of the world of machines, man, and fays. 

Vote for Larry by Janet Tashijan
Larry's back -- after having faked his death and traveled across the country, Beth tracks him down and convinces him to return home (in Massachusetts) to make a difference in politics. Larry takes the plunge and decides to run for president -- of the United States. Thus begins their story of campaigns, concerts, currency, and more as they convince teens to run for office, register to vote, and let their voices be heard in the political arena. Mix the politics with a bit of romance, teen angst, information hackers, and threats, and you have a story that doesn't quite stack up to The Gospel According to Larry, but that emphasizes the importance of not taking government for granted and shows that teens really can make a difference in the running of the nation. (Also included: interesting stats on government policies.)
Seasonally appropriate, I loved that teens who still weren't old enough to vote were shown participating and making a difference -- infectious.
Y FICTION Tashijan

The Wolving Time by Patrick Jennings
Less about the gothic lore and horror of werewolves and more about the historic world of 16th century France, this book tells the tale of young shepherd boy Laszlo whose parents can become wolves. Laszlo longs for the day when he, too, can transform into a wolf, but in a village suspicious of strangers and frightened of differences, he must decide for himself who the real monsters are -- the impressionable village people, the corrupt priest and judge, or the wolves and those who are condemned witches.
This tale of historical fiction introduces questions about humanity and prejudice and fear in an interesting setting.
Y HIST FIC Jennings

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka, et al
I haven't read many of our Wonder Woman graphic novels, and was pleasantly surprised at this one. When Batman pursues vengeance on a girl who has killed a man, she seeks WW's protection through an ancient ritual. WW is bound to protect the girl and give her shelter and food, but when Batman comes calling, WW must decide where her loyalties lie. The story was well told and the illustrations, though detailed, were not boggling or overwhelming. A good book for Batman, Wonder Woman, or ancient Greece fans.

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Updated on 09/01/2015 09:10 AM
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