Latest Teen Reads – newest ones for the younger teen/pre-teen

The following books are not ones that I or my daughters have read yet.  Some are in our TBR (To Be Read) pile, and some we don’t have yet due to a sadly limited book budget – if I could, I’d run out and get them all!  If you are worried about “clean” books, I suggest you run the books through, which gives more details about suitability.   Or check out, 1/31/08 post.  As for the rest, I used Amazon’s age range, which is not always accurate, in my estimation.  Check the story line, and read the reviews on Amazon if you’re not sure.   Since we haven’t read these, there are no guarantees, but then there never are in the book world – one person’s favorite will be another’s throwaway.  Many of these are suitable for both boys and girls, depending on their tastes.  Just enjoy!

Tunnels (Book 1) by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Tunnels (Book 1)

Ages 9-12.  “14-year-old Will Burrows has little in common with his strange, dysfunctional family. In fact, the only bond he shares with his eccentric father is a passion for archaeological excavation. So when his dad mysteriously vanishes, Will is compelled to dig up the truth behind his disappearance. He unearths the unbelievable: a subterranean society that time forgot. “The Colony” has existed unchanged for a century, but it’s no benign time capsule of a bygone era. Because the Colony is ruled by a merciless overclass, the Styx. Will must free his father–is he also about to ignite a revolution?”  Amazon Reviews

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

Ages 9-12.  “What if there were a place where you could get magical candy? Moon rocks that made you feel weightless. Jawbreakers that made you unbreakable. Or candy that gave animals temporary human intelligence and communication skills. (Imagine what your pet would say!) Four young friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, are befriended by Belinda White, the owner of a new candy shop on Main Street. However, the gray-haired, grandmotherly Mrs. White is not an ordinary candy maker. Her confections have magical side effects. Purposefully, she invites the kids on a special mission to retrieve a hidden talisman under Mt. Diablo Elementary School. However, Mrs. White is not the only magician in town in search of the ancient artifact rumored to be a fountain of youth. She is aware that Mr. Stott, the not-so-ordinary ice cream truck driver, has a few tricks of his own.”

The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins

Ages 9-12.  “A boy arrives at a remote village in the dead of night. His name is Ludlow Fitch—and he is running from a most terrible past. What he is about to learn is that in this village is the life he has dreamed of—a safe place to live, and a job, as the assistant to a mysterious pawnbroker who trades people’s deepest, darkest secrets for cash. Ludlow’s job is to neatly transcribe the confessions in an ancient leather-bound tome: THE BLACK BOOK OF SECRETS.

Ludlow yearns to trust his mentor, who refuses to disclose any information on his past experiences or future intentions. What the pawnbroker does not know is, in a town brimming with secrets, the most troubling may be held by his new apprentice.”

“Higgins, framing her book as texts discovered in a hallowed wooden leg, expertly sustains the audience’s curiosity, revealing just enough information to keep readers riveted.  And for all the grisly details, the novel gets at important themes about self-determination and trust. Original and engrossing.” – Publishers Weekly starred review

The Hound of Rowan: Book One of The Tapestry by Henry H. Neff

Ages 9-12.  “MAX MCDANIELS LIVES a quiet life in the suburbs of Chicago, until the day he stumbles upon a mysterious Celtic tapestry. Many strange people are interested in Max and his tapestry. His discovery leads him to Rowan Academy, a secret school where great things await him.

But dark things are waiting, too. When Max learns that priceless artworks and gifted children are disappearing, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ancient struggle between good and evil. To survive, he’ll have to rely on a network of agents and mystics, the genius of his roommate, and the frightening power awakening within him.”

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

Ages 9-12.  “This book is for fiction and fantasy buffs of all ages and it was all but impossible to put down. You will easily get wrapped up in the frightening world presented by Lorey in this book. These days there is no shortage of books that involve fantasy, magic, and adventure; however Lorey’s combination of those three genres works well. Nightmare Academy also brings a shockingly refreshing amount of originality to the idea of a school for “talented” children, resulting in a resounding triumph for any post-Harry Potter series. I found it very enjoyable.”  Customer Review, smurf82 

Darkside (Book 1) (Darkside) by Tom Becker

Ages 9-12.  “Jonathan Starling’s home has been attacked, his dad is in an asylum, he’s running for his life, and there’s nowhere to hide. Jonathan has stumbled upon London’s greatest secret: Darkside. Incredibly dangerous and unimaginably exciting, Darkside is the creepiest place Jonathan has ever seen. It’s a world of nightmares and secrets, where fear and evil rule, and Jonathan has to find a way out….

Since Tom Becker learned to hold a pen, he wanted to become a writer. In fact, when he was five years old, he wrote in a notebook that it was his dream was to be an author. Tom studied History at Oxford University and was inspired by the otherworldly atmosphere of this academic institution. He used to spend long days studying and reading in the University library, but now he spends long days writing.”

Airman by Eoin Colfer

“I love the Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) series and Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer, so I was excited to pick up this book and delve into a story of adventure in the great blue yonder. What I didn’t expect was how enraptured I would become by this book, especially after reading the first chapter that made me roll my eyes with its campiness.

Conor Broekhart was born to fly, or more accurately, he was born flying. From his legendary birth in a hot air balloon to his heroic feat saving the princess from a deadly fire by turning a flag into a parachute, Conor has always looked to the skies for inspiration. But when his tutor and king are both killed in a plot to take over the government, Conor spends the next two years in prison, thinking his father has turned his back on him and his love blames him for the death of her father the king.

After nearly loosing himself in the inhumane conditions of the prison mines, Conor finds escape drawing designs for flying machines on his cell walls. His plans finally take flight ex machina in the form of a balloon that carries him to safety. Conor must then decide if he will turn his back on those who abandoned him or stand against the evils that threaten the freedom of his nation.

It was like reading The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics), The Princess Bride: S Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure and an H.G. Wells novel all in one. It had all of the elements of a great adventure novel in a very contemporary writing style. It made me laugh, it broke my heart, and it left me wanting more. I absolutely adore this book and hope that Colfer continues to write adventure novels.

This book is for a slightly older audience than Colfer’s usual readers because of its complex themes and sometimes violent overtones, but it is still an appropriate book for advanced middle grade readers, high school students or adventurers of any age.”  Amazon Customer Review

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Ages 9-12.  “For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.

Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken — Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good — powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most.”

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

Ages 9-12.  “At the end of the school year, Kendra and her brother, Seth, find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures. Grandpa Sorenson, the caretaker, invites three specialists- a potion master, a magical relics collector, and a mystical creature trapper- to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. The Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world. Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble? Can they overcome paralyzing fear? Find out in book 2 of this bestselling series.”

Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

Available 4/21/08

Starcross: A Stirring Adventure of Spies, Time Travel and Curious Hats by Philip Reeve

Ages 9-12.  “Art, Myrtle and their mother accept the kind invitation of a holiday to an up-and-coming asteroid resort. But they set out with visions of rest and relaxation only to be sucked into a dastardly plot involving spies, time travel, and mind-altering clothing! Before their adventures are out, they’ll sail an aether-ship amid asteroid-strewn seas, dodge demonic puppets, and learn wisdom from an unlikely ally: the Moobs! With faster-than-light plot twists and enough tongue-in-cheek vim and vigor to keep a galaxy in laughter, this dynamic sequel to Larklight is a tour de force of the most intergalactic kind.”

Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull (Alfred Kropp #3) by Rick Yancey

Ages 9-12.  “First Alfred Kropp lost—and found—the legendary sword Excalibur. Then he defeated King Paimon, arguably the nastiest of the demons to escape when the Seals of Solomon were stolen. What could be left? Plenty, it turns out.  Not only is someone out to kill Alfred, but the very people who have sworn to protect him are now trying to use him for deadly means: creating a superhuman army. Trust and betrayal will clash in terrifying ways as Alfred struggles to hold his enemies at bay, even as he learns the full scope of OIPEPs plans for him.”

Grimpow: The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos

Ages 9-12.  “GRIMPOW HAD NO idea who the dead man was, but hidden in his leather bag was a treasure that would change his life forever. Ruby and
emerald encrusted daggers, silver coins, jewels, and a letter with a golden seal depicting a snake swallowing its own tail. And clutched in the man’s firm grip – a stone. A stone that will shape Grimpow’s destiny. For when he holds it, strange things begin to happen. Visions of places he’s never been fill his mind and he’s able to read the strange language in the letter, a message meant for someone else entirely.

So begins Grimpow’s journey with the stone – a centuries-long journey that has driven sane men crazy, turned peaceful men violent, and made strong men powerless. No man has ever unlocked its secrets. But no boy has ever tried. ”

The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep (The Seems) by John Hulme

Ages 9-12.  “Twelve-year-old Becker Drane has definitely got the coolest job of any seventh grader in Highland Park, New Jersey. He works as a Fixer for The Seems. From the Department of Weather to the Department of Sleep, The Seems is a secret organization that makes sure our world keeps running—and more importantly, sticks to The Plan that’s been made for it. But The Plan, and The Seems for that matter, would be nothing without the people in it, and that’s where Becker Drane comes in. When a Glitch is reported in the Department of Sleep, Becker is dispatched to Fix it, but he’s not so sure this is a routine mission. Could the Bed Bugs, who are behind our Worst Nightmares, be responsible for the problems? Or maybe it’s The Tide, an underground organization bent on destroying The Seems?  No matter what, Becker’s in for quite an adventure, and it’ll take all his training, a little luck, and the coolest Tools™ known in (or out of) the Seems to Fix the problem.”

Brisingr (Inheritance, Book 3) by Christopher Paolini

Available 9/20/08

Snakehead (Alex Rider Adventure) by Anthony Horowitz

Ages 9-12.  “What goes up must come down, and when we last saw Alex Rider, he was as up as can be—in outer space. When he crash lands off the coast of Australia, the Australian Secret Service recruits him to infiltrate one of the ruthless gangs operating across South East Asia. Known as snakeheads, the gangs smuggle drugs, weapons, and worst of all, people. Alex accepts the assignment, in part for the chance to work with his godfather and learn more about his parents. What he uncovers, however, is a secret that will make this his darkest and most dangerous mission yet . . . and that his old nemesis, Scorpia, is anything but out of his life.

From the slums of Bangkok to the Australian Outback to the middle of the Timor Sea, Snakehead is Alex Rider’s most action-packed adventure yet.”

The Lighthouse Land (The Lighthouse Trilogy) by Adrian McKinty


Ages 9-12. SF!  “In the first book of this series from acclaimed crime fiction writer Adrian McKinty, Jamie O’Neill and his mother set out for a new home on an island off the coast of Ireland, a windswept place inherited from a long-lost relative. It’s a chance to start again after the cancer that took one of Jamie’s arms. But Muck Island is no sanctuary. Many strange surprises await the O’Neills there, the strangest being the one locked in the top of its ancient lighthouse. Discovering it will send Jamie on an interstellar mission that could change the course of his life, and the universe, forever.”

“McKinty, previously known for adult crime novels, brings an attuned ear for dialogue and a taut pacing to his first YA outing, the launch title in the Lighthouse Trilogy.” —Publishers Weekly

“This thought-provoking sci-fi adventure offers universal appeal, excitement, and a one-of-a-kind hero whose courage and compassion will inspire any reader.” —Children’s Literature

The Lighthouse War: The Lighthouse Trilogy Book 2) by Adrian McKinty

Ages 9-12.  SF! “Jamie O’Neill is back on earth, where no one but his best friend, Ramsay, knows he’s the hero of a great war that saved an alien nation. Now he’s back to being a kid with one arm, no girlfriend, and a band that plays bad songs about intergalactic romance. Then news breaks on the Internet: A space probe has picked up a coded message from far across the galaxy. NASA’s best scientists can’t figure out what it says. Only Jamie and Ramsay realize it’s a message from Altair. They’re needed again.

This thrilling sequel to The Lighthouse Land is packed with even more adventure, battles, and humor than its predecessor, and secures Adrian McKinty’s place as one of science fiction’s most exciting new voices.”

Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Ages 9-12.  Graphic Novel.  “After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.”

Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy) by Charlie Fletcher

Ages 9-12.  “On a school trip to the Natural History Museum in London, a 12-year-old loner named George is banished for something he didn’t do. Angry, he lashes out and breaks off a dragon’s head carved onto the wall of the museum. Next thing he knows, a pterodactyl carving comes to life and begins to chase him. From Gunner, a walking, talking statue, George learns that he has entered another layer of reality, and that his arrival has started a new war between good spits (statues that are imbued with a soullike essence by their inspired makers) and evil taints (soulless carvings). With the advice of various spits, and the companionship of a girl named Edie, George seeks answers from two Sphinx statues, whose enigmatic clues lead the pair into a terrifying adventure. Creatively building on the plentiful gargoyles and other creepy stonework of its urban setting, this lengthy novel, the first in a planned trilogy, will draw capable readers for its suspenseful chase scenes, scary creatures, and highly original premise.”  Booklist 

H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden

Ages 9-12.  “Otto Malpense may only be thirteen years old, but so far he has managed to run the orphanage where he lives, and he has come up with a plan clever enough to trick the most powerful man in the country. He is the perfect candidate to become the world’s next supervillain.  That is why he ends up at H.I.V.E., handpicked to become a member of the incoming class. The students have been kidnapped and brought to a secluded island inside a seemingly active volcano, where the school has resided for decades. All the kids are elite; they are the most athletic, the most technically advanced, and the smartest in the country. Inside the cavernous marble rooms, floodlit hangars, and steel doors, the students are enrolled in Villainy Studies and Stealth and Evasion 101.

But what Otto soon comes to realize is that this is a six-year program, and leaving is not an option.

With the help of his new friends: an athletic martial-arts expert; a world-famous, beautiful diamond thief; and a spunky computer genius — the only other people who seem to want to leave — can Otto achieve what has never been done before and break out of H.I.V.E.”

The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer

“When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers—all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother? ”

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer

Ages 9-12.  “Everyone knows Dr. Watson is Sherlock Holmes’ right-hand man—so when he goes missing, it’s a shock. Even Sherlock hasn’t, well, the slightest clue as to where he could be. Enola is intrigued, but weary; she’s still hiding from her older brothers—and getting involved could be disastrous.

But when a bizarre bouquet shows up at the Watson residence, full of convolvulus, hawthorn, and white poppies, Enola must act. She dons her most discerning disguise yet to find the sender—and quickly, for Enola knows the blossoms symbolize death!

Hold your breath because Enola’s about to take it away. The stakes are higher and the mystery deeper than ever before in the third installment of this Edgar-award nominated, critically acclaimed series”

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer

Ages 9-12.  “Grade 5–9—Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes is intelligent, sassy, and a woman before her time, living incognito in Victorian London and working as a Perditorian. She is on the run from her famous older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, who feel she belongs in a boarding school learning to be a lady. Using various aliases, disguises, and ciphers, Enola is on the case to find the missing teenage daughter of Sir Eustance Austair while trying to elude “capture” by her siblings. She finds herself in the back alleys of London, using her wits to locate the missing Lady Cecily while also trying to keep herself out of mortal peril. Though readers’ interest will be piqued by the references to Enola’s first adventure, The Case of the Missing Marquess (Philomel, 2006), this title stands alone. Fans of Blue Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer (2004) and The Wright 3 (2006, both Scholastic) and Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game (Dutton, 1978) will surely enjoy the suspense and the fresh voice of this young sleuth.”  School Library Journal

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer


Ages 9-12.  “Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. “It seems that things are stirring across the water,” the Bard had warned. “Ships are being built, swords are being forged.” “Is that bad?” Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers. “Of course. People don’t make ships and swords unless they intend to use them.”  The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest that follows in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings.

Other threats include a willful mother Dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-boar with a surprising personality — to say nothing of Ivar the Boneless and his wife, Queen Frith, a shape-shifting half-troll, and several eight foot tall, orange-haired, full-time trolls. But in stories by award-winner Nancy Farmer, appearances do deceive. She has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than ‘Just say no to pillaging.'”

The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer



Jack is amazed to have caused an earthquake. He is thirteen, after all, and only a bard-in-training. But his sister, Lucy, has been stolen by the Lady of the Lake; stolen a second time in her young life, as he learns to his terror. Caught between belief in the old gods and Christianity (790 AD, Britain), Jack calls upon his ash wood staff to subdue a passel of unruly monks, and, for his daring, ends up in a knucker hole. It is unforgettable — for the boy and for readers — as are the magical reappearance of the berserker Thorgil from a burial by moss; new characters Pega, a slave girl from Jack’s village, and the eager-to-marry-her Bugaboo (a hobgoblin king); kelpies; yarthkins; and elves (not the enchanted sprites one would expect but the fallen angels of legend). Rarely does a sequel enlarge so brilliantly the world of the first story. Look for the conclusion in The Islands of the Blessed in 2009.”

Day Of The Djinn Warriors (Children Of The Lamp) by P.b. Kerr

Agses 9-12.  “Djinn twins John and Philippa are off on another whirlwind adventure that takes them around the globe and into unknown worlds. And it’s a race against time as they attempt to rescue their mother from her fate as the Blue Djinn of Babylon. An aging curse has been placed on their father and if the twins are gone too long, he’ll rapidly become an old man. Meanwhile, museums all over the world are reporting robberies of valuable jade from their collections, as well as bizarre hauntings.

As the twins and their friends travel around the globe on their rescue mission, they notice that something very strange is happening: An evil force has awakened the terracotta warriors created by an ancient Chinese emperor, and someone with very bad intentions has cast a spell possessing the soldiers with wicked spirits. And now, the very fate of the world hangs in the balance. Can the twins stop the mysterious terracotta warriors, rescue their parents, AND save the world before it’s too late?  Readers will devour this exciting fourth installment from master storyteller P. B. Kerr, and they won’t want to put this book down until the very last page.”  See earlier post “Great Reads for Teens and Preteens” for the first book.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Ages 9-12.  “Starred Review. Grade 5–9—After Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement recruiting “gifted children looking for special opportunities,” he finds himself in a world of mystery and adventure. The 11-year-old orphan is one of four children to complete a series of challenging and creative tasks, and he, Kate, Constance, and Sticky become the Mysterious Benedict Society. After being trained by Mr. Benedict and his assistants, the four travel to an isolated school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and abilities in order to discover Mr. Curtain’s secrets, and their only chance to defeat him is through working together. Readers will challenge their own abilities as they work with the Society members to solve clues and put together the pieces of Mr. Curtain’s plan. In spite of a variety of coincidences, Stewart’s unusual characters, threatening villains, and dramatic plot twists will grab and hold readers’ attention. Fans of Roald Dahl or Blue Balliett will find a familiar blend of kid power, clues, and adventure in Society, though its length may daunt reluctant or less-secure readers. Underlying themes about the power of media messages and the value of education add to this book’s appeal, and a happy ending with hints of more adventures to come make this first-time author one to remember.”

The Time Travelers (The Gideon Trilogy) by Linda Buckley-Archer

Ages 9-12.  “Previously published as GIDEON THE CUTPURSE:  1763 – Gideon Seymour, thief and gentleman, hides from the villainous Tar Man. Suddenly the sky peels away like fabric and from the gaping hole fall two curious-looking children. Peter Schock and Kate Dyer have fallen straight from the twenty-first century, thanks to an experiment with an antigravity machine. Before Gideon and the children have a chance to gather their wits, the Tar Man takes off with the machine — and Peter and Kate’s only chance of getting home. Soon Gideon, Peter, and Kate are swept into a journey through eighteenth-century London and form a bond that, they hope, will stand strong in the face of unfathomable treachery.”

The Time Thief (The Gideon Trilogy) by Linda Buckley-Archer

Ages 9-12.  “What happens when a seventeenth-century bad guy has twenty-first-century technology?  An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things don’t go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him.Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.”

The Last Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch) by Joseph Delaney

Ages 10-14.  ““I was going to learn how to protect farms and villages from things that go bump in the night. Dealing with ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties would be all in a day’s work. That’s what the Spook did, and I was going to be his apprentice.” Twelve-year-old Thomas Ward, as the seventh son of a seventh son, has no inheritance and is bored with farm work, and even though his new job will mean the superstitious villagers will forever shun him, he is eager to go off to adventure with the tall, hooded man he calls the Spook. His mother, a magical person herself, approves, and the Spook’s teaching is strict but kind. But when Tom has only learned enough to be able to control their house-boggart, he is tricked by Alice, the young daughter of a witch family, into inadvertently releasing and then killing Mother Malkin, a witch the Spook has imprisoned in a pit. This is no polite wicca-type witch, but a snuffling, slime-trailing, cannibalistic creature reminiscent of Tolkien’s nasgils. The story of Tom’s escape from the reincarnated witch’s hideous revenge is full of horrible details, as Alice helps, and then once again betrays him. This well-crafted novel marks an auspicious start for an exciting and fast series for young teens. (Ages 10-14)”  Amazon

The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney

Ages 10-14.  “Grade 5–8—Young Tom Ward finds himself taking on more dangerous villains in the second book (Greenwillow, 2006) in Joseph Delaney’s series. Six months into his apprenticeship to the monster hunter, aka the Spook, Tom is wrangling boggarts, ghosts, and witches. When he and the Spook are compelled to journey to Priestown for the Spook’s brother’s funeral, frightful situations develop. The sadistic Quisator is present, seeking to capture and kill the Spook. Alice, Tom’s good witch friend, is among those already rounded up for a gruesome mass burning at the stake. How can Tom save Alice when his master recommends leaving her to her fate? Could the Spook’s attitude reflect a regretful past love affair with a witch? Meanwhile, a more fearsome creature is bound to the catacombs under the Priestown cathedral. The Bane is a shape-shifting spirit who sucks blood and controls minds. It’s up to Tom to outwit the Bane before it infiltrates his mind and inflicts its preferred method of execution, squashing victims flat. Christopher Evan Welch skillfully juggles voices, most notably conveying the Spook’s irascibility and Tom’s earnestness. Yet it is the Bane that takes center stage with its echoing hiss and eerie, Yoda-like syntax. The violence and villains here are not for the faint of heart.”  School Library Journal

The Last Apprentice: Night of the Soul Stealers by Joseph Delaney

Ages 9-12.  “It’s going to be a long, hard, cruel winter. And there couldn’t be a worse place to spend it than up on Anglezarke.

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who captures witches and drives away ghosts. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, the Spook receives an unexpected visitor. Tom doesn’t know who the stranger is or what he wants, but the Spook suddenly decides it’s time to travel to his winter house, Anglezarke. Tom has heard it will be a bleak, forbidding place, and that menacing creatures are starting to stir somewhere on the moors nearby.

Can anything prepare Tom for what he finds there? What if the rumors about the evil beast called the Golgoth are true? And how much danger will Tom be in if the secrets the Spook has been trying to hide from the world are revealed?”

The Last Apprentice: Attack of the Fiend by Joseph Delaney

“”I see your future clearly. Your master will be dead, and you will be alone. It would be better if you had never been born.’

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who banishes boggarts and drives away ghosts. But now a new danger is threatening Tom’s world: the witches are rising and the three most powerful clans are uniting in order to conjure an unimaginable evil. Tom and the Spook set out to stop the witches before they unleash the demon. But when Tom finds himself on his own, he wonders if he has the courage and cunning to defeat the most powerful enemy he has ever encountered.”

The Coming of Dragons: The Darkest Age I by A.J. Lake

Ages 9-12.  “Edmund, a king’s son in disguise, and Elspeth, a sea captain’s tomboy daughter, are the only two survivors of a terrible shipwreck. They just want to go home, but fate has other plans as they are drawn into the fight against an evil warlord terrorizing their homeland. Accompanied by a mysterious minstrel and haunted by magical powers they did not seek, Edmund and Elspeth journey across a savage land of wild boars, fierce rogue knights, and black magic. Fantasy fans will devour this dramatic tale of mystery, wonder, and the power of friendship.”
“This is an extraordinary adventure. Swordplay, guns, helicopters, fast cars and a striking conclusion make for a headlong, interesting read for teenagers.”

“Grade 4-7–When the mysterious Circus Oscuro arrives in the dead of night, Miles Wednesday, a runaway orphan living in a barrel, is the only person in the town of Larde to witness the event. Later that same night, he is approached by a tiger who claims he can smell the circus in Miles. Thus begins a chain of events that introduces the boy to a winged waif named Little, a captive of the circus’s sinister ringmaster. Upon Little’s escape, the two set out to rescue her friend from the Palace of Laughter, which seems to be far more dangerous and horrible than the name implies. Berkeley’s first foray into writing is mostly successful; the story is filled with captivating and ingenious descriptive passages. While the author’s habit of introducing Miles at the beginning of nearly every chapter (with definitions such as clean-shirted and cat-surrounded and dawn-chilled and hungry) does tend to get stale, the lively plot and colorful supporting cast are enough to hold readers’ attention. Try displaying this book alongside classic whimsical tales such as Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (Knopf, 1961) or the work of Roald Dahl to create interest.”  School Library Journal

The Tiger’s Egg: The Wednesday Tales No. 2 by Jon Berkeley

Ages 9-12.  “When the Circus Bolsillo lands in Larde, orphan Miles Wednesday and his angel-friend Little join its wondrous and chaotic show. They soon fall in with Doctor Tau-Tau, a mysterious and bumbling fortune-teller who once knew Miles’s parents and claims Miles’s father is very much alive. Miles sets out in secret with Doctor Tau-Tau, but to his surprise the search for his father quickly turns into a hunt for a much coveted and powerful Tiger’s Egg—a stone fabled to contain the soul of a tiger. No one knows its true whereabouts, and as Miles and Little begin to puzzle the bits together, they uncover its curious connection to Miles’s parents. Could the Egg be the key to the secrets of Miles’s own past?

Jon Berkeley’s second novel in The Wednesday Tales continues the fantastical and often comical story of Miles Wednesday, as he sets forth on another strange adventure in pursuit of the truth.”

To Catch a Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors

Ages 9-12.  “When the unlikely hero of Selfors’s assured debut, a luckless sixth grader named Boomerang Boom Broom, inadvertently brings home a baby mermaid instead of cheap seafood from the fish market for dinner, he sets off a madcap chain of events that turns his house bright pink, transforms his bathroom into a tropical beach replete with banana tree and monkey, puts his little sister Mertyle’s life in grave danger, and miraculously heals his dysfunctional family from the sudden and bizarre loss of his mother. The baby mermaid, the ill-tempered antithesis of Disney’s Princess Ariel with razor-sharp teeth and green-seaweed hair, possesses powerful magic that, at first, makes Mertyle’s unwitting wishes come true; but the merbaby also brings with it a deadly curse that soon afflicts Boom’s sister in the form of a bizarre white fungus. With time running out, can Boom find a cure for his fuzz-covered sibling? Featuring some outlandishly funny characters (among them the villainous, big-butted principal Mrs. Prunewallop and Halvor, the family cook who models himself on Erik the Red), Selfors’s adventure also subtly explores serious themes like grief, adversity and misfortune. In a nutshell—or, more fittingly, a conch shell—her nimble fantasy is about Boom’s journey of self-discovery and the feeling that comes from achieving a seemingly unreachable goal. A few unresolved plot threads, notably to do with the mother, point to a sequel. Ages 8-12.”  Publishers Weekly

The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis

Ages 9-12.  “Eleven-year-old Sallie March is a whip-smart tomboy and voracious reader of Western adventure novels. When she and her sister Maude escape their self-serving guardians for the wilds of the frontier, they begin an adventure the likes of which Sallie has only read about. This time however, the “wanted woman” isn’t a dime-novel villian, it’s Sallie’s very own sister! What follows is not the lies the papers printed, but the honest-to-goodness truth of how two sisters went from being orphans to being outlaws—and lived to tell the tale!”

Maude March on the Run! (Maude March) by Audrey Couloumbis

Ages 9-12.  “Grade 5–7—The excitement of the Wild West comes to life in this action-packed sequel to The Misadventures of Maude March (Random, 2005). Orphans Sallie, 12, and Maude, 16, continue their adventures, again traveling west in search of their Uncle Arlen and a place they can call home. Maude is unjustly accused of being a horse thief, bank robber, and murderer, and the two girls and their companion, Joe Harden, barely manage to stay one step ahead of the law as they dash across desert and prairie. Joe is a charmingly hapless con man, and the interaction among these three characters provides lots of humor, especially when Maude’s fame produces a bunch of copycat outlaws. Sallie’s voice as the “wise innocent” with plenty of colorful language is just right as she sees through the hypocrisy of a delicious array of eccentric characters and repeatedly saves the day for her companions. Descriptive details about medical practices, terrain, railroads, food, towns, forts, etc., are woven seamlessly into the lively story and provide a real feel for the flavor of the Old West and life on the trail. There are a few too many annoying references to unexplained characters and events from the earlier book, but they may encourage readers to go back and catch up with the girls’ previous exploits. A satisfying sequel.”  Publisher’s Weekly

The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

Ages 9-12.  “Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch.As much as he’d love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn’t want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest.Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances.And he certainly wouldn’t want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face.You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too.For it concerns a secret.A Big Secret.”

“In enormous lettering the first page warns: “Do not read beyond this page!” The reason? The book contains a secret so nefarious as to be dangerous even to innocent page-turners daring enough to venture forth. The first few chapters present a tricky little exercise in metafiction in which the story about a secret is revealed as being itself too secret to tell, a ploy sure to tickle more puzzlesome readers. But then the intrusive narrator, who is equal parts snarky and delightful, strikes a deal and deigns to tell the story with fake names in Your Hometown, as long as you agree to “forget everything you read as soon as you read it.” Then follows a not terribly shocking story wherein two intrepid kids uncover a mysterious society bent on immortality, which gets them in and out of all manner of trouble. While some may be disappointed that there is no mind-bending secret at the bottom of it all as promised, most junior Da Vinci Coders will likely be having too much fun to notice.” 

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Ages 9-12.  “*Starred Review* “You’d be surprised by how many things come into the museum loaded with curses–bad ones,” says 11-year-old Theodosia, whose parents run London’s Museum of Legends and Antiquities. The twentieth century has just begun, and Theodosia’s mum, an archaeologist, has recently returned from Egypt with crates of artifacts. Only Theodosia can feel the objects’ dark magic, which, after consulting ancient texts, she has learned to remove. Then a sacred amulet disappears, and during her search, Theodosia stumbles into a terrifying battle between international secret societies. Readers won’t look to this thrilling adventure for subtle characterizations (most fit squarely into good and evil camps) or neat end-knots in the sprawling plot’s many threads. It’s the delicious, precise, and atmospheric details (nicely extended in Tanaka’s few, stylized illustrations) that will capture and hold readers, from the contents of Theodosia’s curse-removing kit to descriptions of the museum after hours, when Theodosia sleeps in a sarcophagus to ward off the curses of “disgruntled dead things.” Kids who feel overlooked by their own distracted parents may feel a tug of recognition as Theodosia yearns for attention, and those interested in archaeology will be drawn to the story’s questions about the ownership and responsible treatment of ancient artifacts. A sure bet for Harry Potter fans as well as Joan Aiken’s and Eva Ibbotson’s readers. This imaginative, supernatural mystery will find word-of-mouth popularity.”  Booklist

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (The Starcatchers) by Ridley Pearson

Ages 9-12.  “Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have reinvented Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook so well that a generation from now no one might remember where J. M. Barrie’s original creation ended and theirs began. So far, the two have written three incredibly fat and action-packed volumes of Peter’s adventures with the “starstuff,” the magical fallen stars that gave him his power and – in effect – rendered him immortal, though as a boy doomed never to grow up.

Along the way, Barry and Pearson have also brought a multitude of other parts of the legend to life and to center stage. At present, they’ve authored two short novels on other characters in Peter’s worldscape.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon finishes off the trilogy Barry and Pearson set out to write and fans of the series are already feeling the loss. The two authors succeed brilliantly in bringing their books to cinematic life within the pages. The pacing of all three books proceeds at breakneck speed.”  Amazon Customer Review 

The Snow Spider (Magician Trilogy) by Jenny Nimmo


Ages 9-12.  “On Gwyn’s 9th birthday, his grandmother tells him he may be a magician, like his Welsh ancestors. She gives him five gifts to help him–a brooch, a piece of dried seaweed, a tin whistle, a scarf, and a broken toy horse. One blustery day, unsure what to do with his newfound magic, Gwyn throws the brooch to the wind and receives a silvery snow spider in return. Will he be able to use this special spider to bring his missing sister, Bethan, home? THE SNOW SPIDER spins an icy, sparkly web of mystical intrigue that sets the stage for the next two books in this outstanding trilogy!”

The Secret Country (Eidolon Chronicles) by Jane Johnson

Ages 9-12.  “Grade 4-7-When a talking cat convinces Ben to purchase it from Mr. Dodds’s Pet Emporium, the boy has no idea what adventures await him. Except for his one green and one brown eye, Ben seems a perfectly normal child with two sisters, a journalist father, and a mysteriously ailing mother. After a unicorn turns up at a cricket match and a wood-sprite appears in his garden, Ben finds himself enmeshed in the fate of Eidolon, the Secret Country. As each chapter unfolds, the mythic significance of seemingly ordinary events and characters deepens. Mr. Dodds, who is kidnapping creatures such as selkies and dragons from Eidolon, turns out to be a supremely evil figure from ancient legend, with Ben’s Awful Uncle Aleister as his partner in crime. Wishing to help the displaced, sickened creatures return home, Ben finds the wild road that leads there and eventually goes himself. Looking through his green eye, he sees a once-beautiful magical world now corrupted and dying. He learns that his mother was queen of the Secret Country, and that he, as its prince, must try to save it from Mr. Dodds’s usurpation. This readable, accessible fantasy, with its likable and all-too-human young hero, is reminiscent of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia stories (HarperCollins). The writing is smooth and clear, and the action flows quickly, enlivened by touches of humor. Black-and-white cartoon sketches head each chapter. The wide-open ending presages a sequel.”  Booklist

The Last Apprentice: Night of the Soul Stealers by Joseph Delaney

Ages 9-12.  “It’s going to be a long, hard, cruel winter. And there couldn’t be a worse place to spend it than up on Anglezarke.

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who captures witches and drives away ghosts. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, the Spook receives an unexpected visitor. Tom doesn’t know who the stranger is or what he wants, but the Spook suddenly decides it’s time to travel to his winter house, Anglezarke. Tom has heard it will be a bleak, forbidding place, and that menacing creatures are starting to stir somewhere on the moors nearby.

Can anything prepare Tom for what he finds there? What if the rumors about the evil beast called the Golgoth are true? And how much danger will Tom be in if the secrets the Spook has been trying to hide from the world are revealed?”

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson 


Ages 9-12.  “Twelve-year-old Henry York wakes up one night to find bits of plaster in his hair. Two knobs have broken through the wall above his bed and one of them is slowly turning . . .Henry scrapes the plaster off the wall and discovers cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he can hear the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room–with a man pacing back and forth! Henry soon understands that these are not just cupboards, but portals to other worlds.”

“100 Cupboards is the first book of a new fantasy adventure, written in the best world-hopping tradition and reinvented in N. D. Wilson’s inimitable style.”  Amazon

Hope these prove to be as enjoyable as they sound….


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