Teen Reads 2 – A collection of newer books from the most popular genres

Here is Part II of the Teen Reads post.  The same “conditons” apply as are in the earlier post (see Teen Reads – A Collection of newer books from the most popular genres).  There’s a lot of stuff here I wouldn’t mind reading, if my budget allowed, or our library had a better collection.  Y/A – teen is sadly lacking.  Something as a parent you should check out – and is it’s like ours, get involved with your local Friends of the library and see what can be done about it – it’s important to keep those kids reading : )

Maximum Ride : The Angel Experiment (Teen’Top Ten’ Awards) by James Patterson


 Y/A.  “Grade 7 Up–A group of genetically enhanced kids who can fly and have other unique talents are on the run from part-human, part-wolf predators called Erasers in this exciting SF thriller that’s not wholly original but is still a compelling read. Max, 14, and her adopted family–Fang and Iggy, both 13, Nudge, 11, Gazzy, 8, and Angel, 6–were all created as experiments in a lab called the School. Jeb, a sympathetic scientist, helped them escape and, since then, they’ve been living on their own. The Erasers have orders to kill them so the world will never find out they exist. Max’s old childhood friend, Ari, now an Eraser leader, tracks them down, kidnaps Angel, and transports her back to the School to live like a lab rat again. The youngsters are forced to use their special talents to rescue her as they attempt to learn about their pasts and their destinies. The novel ends with the promise that this journey will continue in the sequel. As with Patterson’s adult mystery thrillers, in-depth characterization is secondary to the fast-moving plot. The narrative alternates between Max’s first-person point-of-view and that of the others in the third person, but readers don’t get to know Max very well. The only major flaw is that the children sound like adults most of the time. This novel is reminiscent of David Lubar’s Hidden Talents (Tor, 1999) and Ann Halam’s Dr. Franklin’s Island (Random, 2002).  School Library Journal  www.jamespatterson.com

Maximum Ride Book #2: School’s Out – Forever by James Patterson

Y/A.  “The winged children series: These books are wonderful for ages 13+. A 50 year old young man got me addicted to this series as well as James Patterson’s many other books. The story takes you through the trials of living in our world and being drastically different. From the school run by scientists, to the children they meet in their travels, the love and innocence of the young, versus the jaded and curious at any cost adults. Take the ride, read the series. You won’t want to put the book down til you’ve read each and every page of all the series and want for the next book to hurry up and be available.

Thank you James Patterson for an escape from my reality. Reads much better than any of the crap on tv today. Except of course for the “Women’s Murder Club” Kudos!!!”  Amazon Customer Review

Maximum Ride #3: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

Y/A.  “The end is near . . . or is it? So reads the tagline of Book 3 of the Maximum Ride series, suggesting that Patterson’s best-selling series for YAs may expand beyond the trilogy originally planned—news that will be greeted enthusiastically by fans of its 14-year-old heroine. Slated for extermination by their scientist creators, rebel-mutant Max and other members of her flock, all of whom possess bird DNA and functioning wings, are on the lam again, their mission to save the world from a eugenics plot. Affection for the dauntless characters and misadventures that build on universal yearnings about sprouting wings and taking flight will hold readers.”  Booklist 

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

 “Jack Perdu, a ninth grade classics prodigy, lives his with father on the Yale University campus. Smart and introverted, Jack spends most of his time alone, his nose buried in a book. But one winter evening, a near-fatal accident changes Jack’s life forever. His father sends him to see a mysterious doctor in New York City–a place Jack hasn’t visited since his mother died there eight years ago. In Grand Central Terminal, he meets Euri, a girl who offers to show him the train station’s hidden places–the ones only true urban explorers really know about. Eight flights below the train station, however, Jack discovers more than just hidden tracks and mysterious staircases. He has stumbled upon New York’s ghostly underworld. This, Jack believes, is his chance to see his mother again. But as secrets about Euri’s past are revealed, so are the true reasons for Jack’s visit to the underworld.Masterfully told, The Night Tourist weaves Classical mythology together with New York’s secret history and modern-day landscape to create a magical adventure, full of unexpected twists and page-turning action.”  Amazon

Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale

Adult, Y/A.  “Adult/High School—Thirty-three-year-old Jane Hayes, who has a fairly serious addiction to the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, inherits a trip to Pembrook Park, Kent, England, the location of a resort where guests dress, talk, think, and act in ways that Jane Austen would approve. Refusing to lie about her age, even on vacation in a place right out of Austen’s England, Jane finds herself quickly overcoming the obsession with Mr. Darcy that may very well have jeopardized her 13 “relationships” over the years. Left to walk in last to dinner, mildly obsessed with one of the hotel’s gardeners, and annoyed by another guest’s overeager attempts to bag a man, Jane is eager to return to Manhattan. Then she decides to give it all one more chance, since Great-Aunt Carolyn did see fit to pay for the entire vacation. Hale does a lovely job with the tale of a single woman who would appreciate a genuine shot at love. The book is well written, quite readable, and the myriad characters, especially those working at the resort, are quirkily funny. Given the immense popularity of Jane Austen’s novels among teen girls, this book definitely has cross-over appeal.”  School Libray Journal

The Red Queen’s Daughter by Jacqueline Kolosov

Y/A.  “I approached this book with some hesitation, but found that I could not put it down after the first chapter!
This book would be a wonderful gift for any young girl (or woman). The heroine must learn to think on her feet, analyze situations and problems, and be politically correct at the same time. Other virtues in the book are personal responsibility, compassion and accountability.  I really enjoyed reading about this time period as well. I had never previously heard of Kathrine Parr or her daughter, and this was a wonderful education.  Kolosov has created a marvelously detailed universe with very well rounded and believable characters. The plot is nicely paced and continues to pick up steam as the book progresses.  I highly recommend this book – its fun, intelligent, witty and most important – magical.”  Amazon Customer Review

Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde

Y/A.  “Grade 6-10?Kerry Nowicki, 16, never dreamed that vampires lived in her little town of Brockport, New York, let alone that she would become involved with a handsome one named Ethan. When she makes a late-night trip back to the laundromat to retrieve her little brother’s stuffed bear, she interrupts the murderous plans of a vigilante committee that claims Ethan is one of the undead. Kerry tries to help him, so they assume that she is a vampire, too. When the two young people escape, Kerry’s brother and father are kidnapped in retaliation, and a complicated game of cat-and-mouse follows. During the often harrowing experiences that follow, Kerry proves to be an intelligent, level-headed young woman. She recognizes the danger of her attraction to Ethan, but knows that she must trust him to help find her family. Ethan maintains the cunning and duplicity that readers might expect from a vampire. The plot is lively and intriguing, with an unexpected twist at the end. Readers might be tempted to compare this novel to Annette Curtis Klause’s The Silver Kiss (Delacorte, 1990), since many of the elements are similar. But the heroine of that story acts from a different motivation, making the books much different in terms of plot, theme, and tone. Companions of the Night should attract a loyal following of its own.?”  School Library Journal

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Y/A. Grade 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow is introduced to crank on a trip to visit her wayward father. Caught up in a fast-paced, frightening, and unfamiliar world, she morphs into “Bree” after she “shakes hands with the monster.” Her fearless, risk-taking alter ego grows stronger, “convincing me to be someone I never dreamed I’d want to be.” When Kristina goes home, things don’t return to normal. Although she tries to reconnect with her mother and her former life as a good student, her drug use soon takes over, leaving her “starving for speed” and for boys who will soon leave her scarred and pregnant. Hopkins writes in free-verse poems that paint painfully sharp images of Kristina/Bree and those around her, detailing how powerful the “monster” can be. The poems are masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing, compelling readers on to the next chapter in Kristina’s spiraling world. This is a topical page-turner and a stunning portrayal of a teen’s loss of direction and realistically uncertain future.  School Library Journal

Glass by Ellen Hopkins

Mature Y/A.  “Grade 9 Up—Kristina Snow was a 17-year-old with high grades and a loving family. In Crank (S & S, 2004), one summer in California with a meth-addicted boyfriend destroys her life. Addicted, she’s raped, and goes back home to Reno pregnant. Glass picks up a year later. She lives with her mother and works at a 7–11. Depressed about her post-baby figure, she goes back on speed to lose weight. Her mother kicks her out and gains custody of the baby. She continues to spiral to the last page, which sets readers up for a third novel. Glass is even more terrifying than Crank in its utter hopelessness; meth’s power is permanent and Kristina is an addict whether she uses or not. Though her recount of events in the first book is dry and self-indulgent, the pace snowballs as soon as she takes her first toke of rock meth, and one desperate, horrifying measure or decision follows another. Like Crank, this title is written in verse, but certainly not poetry. Hopkins’s writing is smooth and incisive, but her fondness for seemingly random forms is distracting and adds little to the power of the narrative. Minor characters are flat, and Kristina’s overblown self-pity elicits little empathy. The author tries but fails to present meth itself as a character; her descriptions of “the monster” are precious and overwritten. Kristina’s story is terrible, and even when she’s high, the narrative voice and mood are sobering. Teens, including reluctant readers, may appreciate the spare style and realism of Kristina’s unhappy second chapter.”  School Library Journal 

Hawksong: The Kiesha’ra: Volume One by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes 


Y/A.  “Grade 7-10-In this engaging fantasy, Danica Shardae is an avian shapeshifter. She is a princess of her people who, like the birds they become, is reserved and disciplined, yet full of passion. Her people have been at war with the serpiente, a people who shapeshift into serpent forms, for so many years that no one remembers how it all started. The hatred and bloodshed have taken a heavy toll on both sides, and Danica and Zane Cobriana, a prince among the serpiente, are determined to stop it, at any cost. He is the last of his line as is Danica and so he proposes that the avian and serpiente royalty meet at a neutral place and seek mediation to end the war. The mediator proposal-that Danica and Zane marry-is so crazy and repugnant a plan that both parties leave immediately. The young people, however, consider it in spite of the apparent lunacy, for it would mean an end to the fighting. But can they pull it off? And can they keep the dissenters among them from destroying this shred of a chance for peace? This book takes the Romeo and Juliet angle to new heights and is dealt with in a completely original way. It’s a love story and a plea for peace, and an intriguing look at a world that is teeming with tension and danger and beauty. Atwater-Rhodes has created a stunning adventure that draws readers in and leaves them begging for more.”  School Library Journal

Wyvernhail: The Kiesha’ra: Volume Five by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Y/A.  “HAI HAS ALWAYS been an outsider. With a falcon mother and a deceased cobra father, she is considered a mongrel by most, an ally by some, and a friend by few. Hai’s broken falcon wings are a painful reminder of the life she once led on the island of Ahnmik. And here in Wyvern’s Court, the avian and serpiente royal family keep their distance, refusing to acknowledge her cobra bloodline. They know that Hai’s magic is so volatile, she can barely control it, and images of the past and future threaten to overwhelm her.

When Hai’s cousin, Oliza Shardae Cobriana, abdicates the throne of Wyvern’s Court, Hai has visions only of destruction: the serpiente king Salem, dying in her arms; the dutiful guard, Nicias, unable to save a generation of children; and Wyvern’s Court engulfed in flames.

Now Hai will do anything to protect her new home – even if it means betraying the very people who need her most.”  Amazon

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Y/A. “*Starred Review* Contemporary realism, set askew, is the silver streak of Zevin, whose Elsewhere (2005) depicted a teen’s experiences in the afterlife. This equally sensitive, joyful novel, her second for YAs, tackles the slippery nature of human identity, deceptively tucked within a plot familiar from TV soaps. After high-school junior Naomi conks her head, she can’t remember anything that happened since sixth grade. She is by turns mystified and startled by evidence of her present life, from the birth-control pills in her bedside table to her parents’ astonishing, rancorous split. Eventually, the memories return, leaving Naomi questioning the basis of a new, intense romance, and wondering which of her two lives, present or former, represents her most authentic self. The amnesia device could have been more convincingly played, but Zevin writes revealingly about emotions and relationships. Especially vivid is the Hepburn-Tracy bond Naomi shares with yearbook co-chief Will, whom she wounds with her lurching self-reinvention even as she discovers deeper feelings: “I had thought the way I felt about Will was just a room, but it had turned out to be a mansion.” Pulled by the heart-bruising love story, readers will pause to contemplate irresistible questions: If the past were a blank slate, what would you become? Does the search for one’s truest identity necessarily mean rejecting all that has gone before?  Publishers Weekly

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Y/A.  “I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.  Amazon

To Catch A Pirate by Jade Parker

Y/A.  “Adventure on the high seas has never been so thrilling…especially when the treasure at stake is one girl’s heart. When sixteen-year-old Annalisa Townsend’s ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father’s treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold. When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother. He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace. A fair trade, m’lady, he tells her afterward, before disappearing. A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the pirates and reclaiming the treasure they stole. But when she finally catches up with the wretched James Sterling and the young pirate becomes her captive, she discovers she’s in danger of him stealing something far more valuable this time: her heart.”  Amazon 

The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison

Teen.  “Grade 7 Up—In the kingdom of Kendel, anyone caught talking with the animals or practicing animal magic is put to death, so Prince George learns early on to deny that part of his identity. He does everything for the sake of the kingdom, even if it means agreeing to an arranged marriage with Princess Beatrice from the neighboring kingdom of Sarrey. But Beatrice has a striking and unusual relationship with her hound, Marit, and George finds himself drawn to the pair, and to that part of himself that he has ignored for too long. He is faced with many decisions, including how to help his dying father, and how to free Beatrice and her hound. The story is interrupted at times with philosophizing, hints at the princess’s secrets, and related mythology that might prove frustrating for unsophisticated readers. Strong characterizations can’t make up for the uneven plot, and most readers are unlikely to stick with this lengthy tale.”  School Library Journal

Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner

Teen.  “Helen of Sparta is a feisty, beautiful young princess who is doted upon by her family, even though her determination to be independent and hunt and fight like her brothers creates various awkward, even dangerous situations for everyone. Using the mythical character of Helen of Troy as inspiration, Friesner focuses on Helen’s youth, before she became “the face that launched a thousand ships.” In an epilogue, Friesner discusses the historical facts and classical texts that she drew from to imagine Helen’s childhood. The resulting novel is a fascinating portrait of a spoiled child who uses her wily ways and privileges to learn how to use a sword, track and kill game, ride a horse, and bargain for a slave’s freedom. Along the way, Friesner skillfully exposes larger issues of women’s rights, human bondage, and individual destiny. It’s a rollicking good story all the way to the abrupt conclusion, which will leave readers crying out for a sequel.  Booklist

Song Of The Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Y/A.  “This lyrical novel in verse tells the tale of fiery, sixteen-year-old Elaine of Ascolat—who will one day be known, in poems and paintings, as “The Lady of Shalott”. As the daughter of a soldier in Arthur’s army, Elaine has only one other girl companion: Arthur’s sister, the mysterious, magical Morgan. But Elaine hesitates to tell Morgan her deepest secret: that she is falling for the dashing Lancelot, Arthur’s secondin- command. But when yet another girl—the beautiful, cold Gwynivere—joins their ranks, and catches Lancelot’s eye, Elaine knows she must do something about her growing feelings of jealousy and rivalry. But as the army advances toward the land that will become Camelot, can Elaine, and the world she has always known, survive the birth of a kingdom?  Amazon

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

Y/A.  “Ellen, the lovely heroine of this romantic novel, is raised in London by a suffragist mother and aunts but rejects the liberated life. After graduating from a culinary school, she takes a job in Austria at a run-down boarding school for neglected rich children and transforms it with her beauty, hard work, and good cooking. Like Ellen, all the characters are pleasantly drawn if exaggerated stereotypes: Ellen’s love interest, Marek, the school handyman, is really a brilliant composer hiding out from the Nazis; the scullery maid is beautiful and saintly; and all the children are budding geniuses. When the war intervenes, Ellen returns to England to build a sanctuary for her friends and other refugees; eventually she and Marek are reunited, and love conquers all. Ibbotson, who grew up in Austria and fled the Nazis herself, provides rich details of prewar life in Vienna and the alpine countryside. Her prose is like a Linzertorte, well constructed but awfully sweet. Still, this is a lively read. Recommended for popular fiction collections.  School Library Journal

The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson

Y/A.  “For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. Defying her father’s wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be finacé have begun to track her down. . . .   Amazon

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

Y/A.  “For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. Defying her father’s wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be finacé have begun to track her down. . . .  Amazon

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Y/A.  ” After the Russian revolution turns her world topsy-turvy, Anna, a young Russian countess, has no choice but to flee to England. Penniless, Anna hides her aristocratic background and takes a job as servant in the household of the esteemed Westerholme family, armed only with an outdated housekeeping manual and sheer determination. Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her new duties—not to mention her instant attraction to Rupert, the handsome Earl of Westerholme. to make matters worse, Rupert appears to be falling for her as well. As their attraction grows stronger, Anna finds it more and more difficult to keep her most dearly held secrets from unraveling. And then there’s the small matter of Rupert’s beautiful and nasty fiancée. . . .  Amazon.  As I recall, this and most if not all of Ibbotson’s books are reprints of older editions.  This is long time favorite of these type of books.

Before Midnight: A Retelling of “Cinderella” (Once Upon a Time) by Cameron Dokey

Teen/Y/A.  “Grade 6–10—Here are answers to the age-old questions that have plagued so many for so long: What was Cinderella’s father thinking? And where was he while his new wife and the stepsisters had their way with her? Not only does Dokey deal with these issues, but she also turns the oft-told story on its head in many unexpected, intriguing, and satisfying ways. When Cendrillon’s mother dies after giving birth to her, her father, Etienne de Brabant, blames his newborn daughter. Wishing never to see her again, he disappears from her life for the next 15 years. The fairy godmother in the original tale here is simply the wise housekeeper who delivers Cendrillon and raises her. The stepmother is not wicked, just understandably unhappy at being forced to marry Etienne, who uproots her from her life at court and sends her off to live at his remote estate without even telling her that he has a daughter. The stepsisters are differentiated, dimensional characters as well. In fact, the entire book is filled with strong women who exert their influence on a fairy-tale world and—delightfully—with sensitive and clever young men who recognize their worth. This expanded Cinderella story is a fine addition to the canon including Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted (HarperCollins, 1997), Donna Jo Napoli’s Bound (S & S, 2004), and Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Just Ella (S & S, 1999).  School Library Journal

Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of “Sleeping Beauty (Once Upon a Time) by Cameron Dokey

Teen, Y/A.  “The Princess Aurore has had an unusual childhood. Cursed at birth, Aurore is fated to prick her finger at the age of sixteen and sleep for one hundred years — until a prince awakens her with a kiss. So, to protect her, Aurore’s loving parents forbid any task requiring a needle.

Unable to sew or embroider like most little princesses, Aurore instead explores the castle grounds and beyond, where her warmth and generosity soon endear her to the townspeople. their devotion to the spirited princess grows as she does.

On her sixteenth birthday, Aurore learns that the impending curse will harm not only her, but the entire kingdom as well. Unwilling to cause suffering, she will embark on a quest to end the evil magic. The princess’s bravery will be rewarded as she finds adventure, enchantment, a handsome prince, and ultimately her destiny.”  Amazon

Golden: A Retelling of “Rapunzel” (Once Upon a Time) by Cameron Dokey

Teen, Y/A.  “Before Rapunzel’s birth, her mother made a dangerous deal with the sorceress Melisande: If she could not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.

After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel’s help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely “two nights and the day that falls between” to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed…forever.”  Amazon

The Storyteller’s Daughter: A Retelling of “The Arabian Nights” (Once Upon a Time) by Cameron Dokey

Teen, Y/A.  “In a faraway kingdom, a king has been betrayed. Deeply hurt and bitterly angry, he vows never to be deceived again. Unfortunately, the king’s plan to protect himself will endanger all of the realm’s young women, unless one of them will volunteer to marry the king — and surrender her life.

To everyone’s relief and horror, one young woman steps forward. The daughter of a legendary storyteller, Shahrazad believes it is her destiny to accept this risk and sacrifice herself.

On the night of her wedding to the king, Shahrazad begins to weave a tale. Fascinated, the king lets her live night after night. Just when Shahrazad dares to believe that she has found a way to keep her life — and an unexpected love — a treacherous plot will disrupt her plan. Now she can only hope that love is strong enough to save her.  Amazon

The Rose Bride: A Retelling of “The White Bride and the Black Bride (Once Upon a Time) by Nancy Holder

Teen, Y/A.  “When Rose’s mother dies, her only comfort is the exquisite rose garden her mother left behind. The purple blossoms serve as an assurance of her mother’s love. But Rose is dealt a second blow when her father dies and his greedy widow, Ombrine, and her daughter, Desirée, move in and take over the manor in true Cinderella fashion.

Fate has been cruel to Ombrine and Desirée, too. So despite their harsh ways, Rose has compassion. But these feelings are bitterly tested when, in a rage, Ombrine tears out the garden. Rose nearly gives up all hope — until a chance meeting with the king. Happiness might be within her reach, but first she must prevail over Ombrine. And then she must determine if she has the courage to love.  Amazon

Water Song: A Retelling of “The Frog Prince (Once Upon a Time) by Suzanne Weyn

Teen.  “Grade 5 Up—Setting this retelling of “The Frog Prince” in World War I Belgium is an interesting idea that didn’t work out very well. Emma, a British citizen, is stranded on her family’s estate after her mother is killed by a bomb. Their home is requisitioned as a garrison for the German army. To compound her trauma, her fiancé has broken off their engagement and, in a fit of pique, Emma throws the golden ball-shaped locket with his photo into the well—an action she immediately regrets. When she tries to retrieve it, she discovers an American who’s been fighting with British forces hiding in the water in an attempt to counter the effects of a gas attack. He’s a good swimmer, his skin is blistered, and his eyes are bulging and swollen from the gas. As soon as he is able to see Emma, he wants her to kiss him. Readers are meant to understand that he is the frog prince. All that might plausibly be worked into a satisfying historical novel cum fantasy, but when Weyn overburdens the narrative with the “frog’s” complicated Louisiana mixed-race backstory involving Natchez magic, a history as a runaway, a stint in the merchant marines, and more, the narrative sinks under the weight. In this case, less would be more.  School Library Journal

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of “Rumpelstilskin (Once Upon a Time) by Suzanne Weyn


Teen, Y/A.  Available 6/28/2008.  Amazon

Snow: A Retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (Once Upon a Time) by Tracy Lynn

Teen, Y/A  “The Duchess Jessica’s childhood began with a tragedy: her mother’s death. Her father, heartbroken at the loss of his beloved wife, could not bear to raise the child. Largely ignored, Jessica spent the first eleven years of her life running free on the family estate, cared for only by the servants.

Then her father decides to remarry, bringing an end to Jessica’s independence. At first her new stepmother just seems overly strict. But as Jessica grows into a beautiful young woman, it becomes clear that her stepmother is also wildly — and murderously — jealous of her.

Jessica escapes to London. Going by the name Snow to hide from her family, she falls in love with an odd band of outcasts who accept her into their makeshift family. But when her stepmother appears in the city, repentant and seeking her forgiveness, Jessica will have to decide whom to trust…with her life.”  Amazon

Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of “The Little Mermaid (Once Upon a Time) by Debbie Viguié

Teen, Y/A.  “In a quiet fishing village seventeen years ago, one lone fisherman rescued a child from the sea. He and his wife raised the girl, Pearl, as their own daughter, never allowing themselves to wonder long about where she came from — or notice her silver hair, usually pale skin, and wide, dark blue eyes.

Pearl grows from a mysterious child into an unusual young woman, not always welcomed in the village. As all the other girls her age find husbands, she has only one friend to ease her loneliness. One very special, secret companion: Prince James.

But their friendship is shaken when trouble erupts in the kingdom — a conspiracy against the royal family combines with an evil enchantment from beneath the sea. Now, just when Pearl and James need each other most, bewitching magic and hints about Pearl’s past threaten to tear them apart…forever.”  Amazon

The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones

Teen.  “Grade 6 Up—On the day before her 16th birthday, Anita’s life starts to change. She has a vision of flying, receives a mysterious and magical book as a present, and travels from modern-day London to the world of Faerie. She discovers that her boyfriend, Evan, is really Edric, servant of the scheming faerie lord Gabriel Drake, and that he has been sent to bring her home. Anita is really Princess Tania, the seventh and youngest daughter of King Oberon, and she has been lost for centuries after experimenting with her power to travel between worlds. Anita/Tania comes to accept her true identity and the joy she has brought to her father and his realm. However, all is not well in Faerie. Queen Titania has disappeared, and Gabriel Drake is somehow involved with her loss. He claims to love Tania and wants to marry her, but is actually interested only in her magical power. While the conclusion resolves Tania’s immediate problems, there is ample room for a sequel. This fairy tale meets “Princess Diaries” clearly shows Anita/Tania’s confusion about her identity. She is a strong character, and her sisters and their varied powers and personalities are also well drawn. The teens’ romance, foreshadowed by their starring roles in their school’s production of Romeo and Juliet in this world, develops as the story progresses, and frequent quotes from and allusions to the play add depth to the story.”  School Library Journal

The Night Dance (Once Upon a Time) by Suzanne Weyn

Y/A.  “Grade 8 Up–This light, entertaining tale combines the Arthurian legend of the Lady of the Lake, Grimms Twelve Dancing Princesses, and elements of romance novels. After Sir Ethans wife, Vivienne, disappears, he vows that no one shall leave him again. He builds an enormous manor that keeps his 12 daughters from the outside world. A crack in a wall is discovered by the youngest, Rowena, and provides a long-desired escape route. At the battle of Camlan, King Arthur is mortally wounded and his knight Bedivere swears that he will honor his sovereigns final request to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake (Vivienne). On his journey, he battles the evil Morgan le Fey to protect the sword and meets a monk who sends him in Rowenas direction. They meet in the woods as the young woman discovers her power of second sight when she finds Viviennes scrying bowl with a woman trapped in it, pleading for help. While searching for answers, Rowena and her sisters discover underground tunnels filled with music. Each night they go there to explore but the sorceress le Fey follows them and casts a spell to make sure they do not find their mother. What follows is fairly predictable and everyone lives happily ever after. Though not as substantive as Robin McKinleys Beauty (HarperCollins, 1978) or Donna Jo Napolis The Magic Circle (Dutton, 1993), this story will be enjoyed by readers who like romance novels and fairy-tale retellings.”  School Library Journal

Spirited (Once Upon a Time) by Nancy Holder

Y/A.  “War. Rage. Magic. Love.

In May 1756 war is formally declared between the British and the French. During this highly dangerous time, Isabella Sevens is travelling with her father to the British stronghold Fort William Henry.

In the forest, Wusamequin, the young and handsome medicine man, looks to avenge the death of his wife and child at the hands of British soldiers. When Wusamequin spots Isabella and her father, he alerts his warriors to capture them. But Wusamequin is quite taken with how bravely Isabella battles. He orders the warriors to spare her and her tfather, and they are dragged back to their village. However, many members of the Mohican tribe still want them to be killed. In a desperate plea to Wusamequin, Isabella vows to stay as his hostage if he lets her father go.  Amazon

Sunlight and Shadow (Once Upon a Time) by Cameron Dokey

Teen.  “Grade 6 Up–A reworking of the Mozart opera “The Magic Flute.” On her 16th birthday, Mina, the daughter of Pamina, the Queen of the Night, and Sarastro, the Mage of the Day, is to be taken to live with the father she hardly knows until he can choose a suitable husband for her. When he arrives early to sweep her away, Pamina seeks revenge by enlisting Lapin, a local boy, to play his enchanted bells and call Mina’s true love to her. Tern, a prince, hears the bells and, unable to resist their call, arrives with his magic flute, with which he is able to play the music of his heart. Mina and Tern fall in love, and an angry Sarastro sets a deadly trial for Tern to complete in order to have his daughter’s hand. Mina, refusing to stand by and have her life decided for her, accompanies Tern so that they may face the challenge together. The telling alternates among four points of view: Mina, Tern, Lapin, and Gayna, an orphan girl whom Sarastro has raised and who mostly gives readers insight into his way of thinking. The setting is otherworldly but the voices are modern, making it easy for teens to relate to the narrators. The strong female characters and the blend of fantasy and romance make this a great light read.”  School Library Journal 

Keturah And Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Y/A.  “Starred Review. Grade 7 Up–At 16, Keturah is a poor peasant girl who constantly ponders her future. She has always been different from the other girls of the village and has unique but unrealized gifts. She has been raised by warm and loving grandparents, experiencing firsthand what a truly happy marriage is all about. The teen is committed to finding a suitable husband so she, too, can be happy but has not yet been successful. All this changes for her the day she follows the legendary hart deep into the forest and becomes lost. After three days of wandering aimlessly, she knows that she is about to die. Keturah is surprised to discover that Death is a strong, handsome lord to whom she immediately feels connected. Despite the fact that she is afraid, she challenges Lord Death, which is something he is not used to. She uses her storytelling skills to make him grant her a reprieve for one day. She spins a story of a love so pure that even Death cannot destroy it. He allows her to live another day on the condition that she come to him with an ending to the story and her true love. Keturah continues to delay the inevitable but in doing so learns much about herself and what she is truly capable of achieving. Along the way she also discovers that her true love was there beside her all along. This is a dark, but uplifting story combining elements of fantasy as well as romance. It has a gripping plot, strong characters, and a surprise ending that will intrigue readers.”  School Library Journal

Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner

Y/A.  “Helen of Sparta is a feisty, beautiful young princess who is doted upon by her family, even though her determination to be independent and hunt and fight like her brothers creates various awkward, even dangerous situations for everyone. Using the mythical character of Helen of Troy as inspiration, Friesner focuses on Helen’s youth, before she became “the face that launched a thousand ships.” In an epilogue, Friesner discusses the historical facts and classical texts that she drew from to imagine Helen’s childhood. The resulting novel is a fascinating portrait of a spoiled child who uses her wily ways and privileges to learn how to use a sword, track and kill game, ride a horse, and bargain for a slave’s freedom. Along the way, Friesner skillfully exposes larger issues of women’s rights, human bondage, and individual destiny. It’s a rollicking good story all the way to the abrupt conclusion, which will leave readers crying out for a sequel.  Booklist

Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner


Y/A.  “In this rousing sequel to Nobody’s Princess, young Helen of Sparta is not about to be left behind when her older brothers head off to join the quest for the Golden Fleece. Accompanied by her friend Milo, and disguised as a boy herself, Helen sets out to join the crew of heroes aboard the massive ship known as The Argo. Helen quickly faces all sorts of danger. Not only does she have to avoid her brothers’ detection, but a devastatingly handsome boy catches her eye, Hercules falls in love with her boy-self, there are battles to be faced, as well as a terrifying murderous princess and the start of her period. And that’s only the beginning! With her beauty blossoming, Helen’s journey takes her beyond the mythology of the Golden Fleece to Athens, where her very future as Queen of Sparta is threatened.”  Amazon 

Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale by Donna Jo Napoli

Y/A.  “Melkorka is a princess, the first daughter of a magnificent kingdom in mediæval Ireland — but all of this is lost the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Thrown into a world that she has never known, alongside people that her former country’s laws regarded as less than human, Melkorka is forced to learn quickly how to survive. Taking a vow of silence, however, she finds herself an object of fascination to her captors and masters, and soon realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.

Based on an ancient Icelandic saga, award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli has crafted a heartbreaking story of a young girl who must learn to forget all that she knows and carve out a place for herself in a new world — all without speaking a word.”  Amazon

The Lost Queen: Book Two of The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones

Y/A  “Tania is a princess of Faerie.

And now she must return to the Mortal World.

Once upon a time, Tania was an ordinary girl. But then she was swept into another world, where she was the long-lost princess of the elegant and magical court of Faerie, and only she could save the court from great peril.

Now Tania—and her true love, Edric—will go back to the Mortal Realm to seek Queen Titania, lost hundreds of years ago while searching for Tania.

Their return leads to struggles with Tania’s much-loved mortal parents and friends as she and Edric try to conceal their secret. But much more serious dangers lurk: The sinister Lord Drake is not yet defeated, they are pursued by dark supernatural forces, and Tania’s two worlds are about to collide in amazing and frightening ways she never could have anticipated.”  Amazon

Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey

Y/A.  “Starred Review. Grade 6–10—Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger in their memories long after they’ve finished it. Princess Rosalind Pendragon is meant to fulfill a 600-year-old prophecy from Merlin that she will restore her family’s good name and end a war. Rosalind was born with one dragon talon, which is a fearful secret known only to the teen and her mother. It is kept hidden by the golden gloves that Rosalind is never without, and over the years, the queen tries desperately to find a cure for the curse. When Rosalind reveals her claw to Lord Faul, a dragon that has been terrorizing the island, her destiny is set in motion. Taken by him to be nursemaid to his motherless children, she learns of her dragon blood and of her mother’s treachery. Rosalind and the dragons are bound together in a complex relationship that, in the end, helps her fulfill the prophecy. Her heroic journey comes full circle, and she finds internal peace as well as peace for her people. While the story has roots in traditional fairy tales and legends, the author has crafted something new and magical, and unexpected plot twists will surprise readers throughout. Lord Faul and Rosalind, whose personality is a fantastic combination of Joan of Arc, Briar Rose, and Patricia Wrede’s Princess Cimarron, develop so well as characters that readers will be touched by them. Devotees of fantasy adventure stories will certainly find treasure here.”  School Library Journal

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Y/A.  “With a quote from The Age of Innocence as an epigraph and an enthusiastic blurb from the creator of Gossip Girl on its back cover, this lavishly produced debut makes no secret of its twin influences. The story opens in 1899 with the funeral of Elizabeth Holland, a well-bred beauty said to have plunged to her death in the Hudson River. The narrative then travels back several weeks, tracing the relationships and events that have led to the somber assembly. This tangled web includes not one but two sets of star-crossed lovers; an upstairs/downstairs romance; a scheming social climber; a bitter servant girl; and oodles of money, all set in a Edith Wharton via Hollywood vision of Old New York. The dialogue has its clunky moments, and the plot twist that drives the tale is telegraphed from the very start, but readers caught up in the fancy dress intrigue are unlikely to mind much: it’s all part of the dishy fun. Needless to say, the ending paves the way for at least one sequel. Ages 14-up.  Publishers Weekly

Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

Y/A.  “Grade 9 Up—In a style reminiscent of the work of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti, Scott tells the story of Lauren, a not-so-popular high school junior who is dating the secretly celibate most popular boy in school. Without warning, Evan, the loner son of her distant father’s former live-in girlfriend, returns to town and stirs up confusing emotions for Lauren, who once believed that a popular boyfriend was all she needed to secure happiness. Soon, she invents extra band-practice time as an excuse to avoid her boyfriend, her super-stressed best friend, and her empty house, and spends more time with the decidedly not celibate Evan. While the setup is fairly standard fare for YA romances, Lauren’s inner conflict over her affair with Evan, and the various lies surrounding it, rings true, and the novel has enough drama to keep readers interested.”  School Library Journal

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy (Bloody Jack Adventures) by L. A. Meyer

Teen  “Grade 6-8-With the plague running rampant in London in 1797, Mary’s parents and sister are soon counted among the dead. Left alone and penniless, the eight-year-old is taken in by a gang of orphans and learns survival skills. However, when their leader is killed, Mary decides to try her luck elsewhere. She strips the dead body, cuts her hair, renames herself Jack Faber, and is soon employed as a ship’s boy on the HMS Dolphin. When the vessel sees its first skirmish with a pirate ship, her bravery saves her friend Jaimy and earns her the nickname “Bloody Jack.” Told by Mary/Jack in an uneven dialect that sometimes doesn’t ring true, the story weaves details of life aboard the Dolphin. Readers see how she changes her disguise based on her own physical changes and handles the “call of nature,” her first experiences with maturation, and the dangers to boys from unscrupulous crew members. The protagonist’s vocabulary, her appearance and demeanor, and her desire to be one of the boys and do everything they do without complaint complete the deception. This story also shows a welcome slant to this genre with an honorable, albeit strict Captain, and ship’s mates who are willing and able teachers. If readers are looking for a rousing, swashbuckling tale of pirates and adventures on the high seas, this title falls short. However, it is a good story of a brave ship’s “boy” with natural leadership abilities and a sense of fair play and humanity.  School Library Journal

Mississippi Jack: Being an Account of the Further Waterborne dventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman, Fine Lady, and Lily of the West (Bloody Jack Adventures) by L. A. Meyer

Y/A.  “The intrepid Jacky Faber, having once again eluded British authorities, heads west, hoping that no one will recognize her in the wilds of America. There she tricks the tall-tale hero Mike Fink out of his flatboat, equips it as a floating casino-showboat, and heads south to New Orleans, battling murderous bandits, British soldiers, and other scoundrels along the way. Will Jacky’s carelessness and impulsive actions ultimately cause her beloved Jaimy to be left in her wake?

Bold, daring, and downright fun, Jacky Faber proves once again that with resilience and can-do spirit, she can wiggle out of any scrape . . . well, almost.  Amazon  The Fifth book in the series

He’s With Me (I Heart Bikinis) by Tamara Summers

Y/A.  “Lexie’s longtime crush on Jake has never gone anywhere. But when teen-queen Bree sets her sights on Jake, he has to come up with a way to turn her down…without incurring the wrath of the most popular girl in school. A plan is hatched: Lexie can pretend to be Jake’s girlfriend. But Lexie has never had a real boyfriend, let alone a pretend one! Can she manage to convince everyone she’s Jake’s girlfriend and then convince Jake that they’re meant to be…for real?”  Amazon 

So Inn Love by Catherine Clark

Y/A.  “Reservations? Yes. A couple. Like: Is Hayden really as interested in me as I am in him? And is my roommate right—should I “beware of hookups”?

Confirmation? Doubtful. Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you said “commitment.”

Special Requests? Let me get through this summer without being fired and heartbroken.

Let me fall in love this summer.

Let me be part of the inn crowd.”  Amazon

The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson

Teen, Y/A.  “When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.

As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. But the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors—one welcome, and the other decidedly less so—brings both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.

With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this forgotten but classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset on the central Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.”  Amazon

The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne

Y/A.  “The Ragland Rattlers

$1 Night

$1 baseball cap with home team logo
$1 program
$1 hot dogs
$1 drinks
$1 popcorn

But how much to get the hot pitcher to notice you exist?”  Amazon

Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

Y/A.  “When rejection comes back to bite you… Jordan’s life sucks. Her boyfriend, Michael, dumped her, slept his way through half the student body, and then killed himself. But now, somehow, he appears at her window every night, begging her to let him in.

Jordan can’t understand why he wants her, but she feels her resistance wearing down. After all, her life — once a broken record of boring parties, meaningless hookups, and friends she couldn’t relate to — now consists of her drinking alone in her room as she waits for the sun to go down.

Michael needs to be invited in before he can enter. All Jordan has to do is say the words….”  Amazon 

Two-way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Y/A.  “there are two sides to every breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They’re even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney — for a girl he met on the Internet.

It’s too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney’s heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la — this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he’s got a secret or two that he’s not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can’t get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.”  Amazon

Kissing Snowflakes by Abby Sher

Y/A.  “The picturesque montain ski lodge is the perfect place to spend winter break…if you have a boyfriend! Otherwise, that cozy leather couch in front of the crackling fire looks a lot less inviting. Good thing that there are lots of cute, blond, sweater-wearing ski instructors around to choose from….

This fun, sweet tale of holiday romance on the slopes is the perfect wintertime read!”  Amazon 

A Year In Europe: Three Novels by Rachel Hawthorne


Y/A.  “MEET THE GIRLS of A Year in Europe, a collection of three interconnecting novels about the adventures of traveling abroad.

Robin: Her junior year abroad in London takes a surprising turn when she falls for British hottie Kit.

Dana: Paris is the City of Love, and Dana’s on a mission to find a gorgeous French boyfriend.

Carrie: She’s crazy about Antonio, her Italian dream guy. If Carrie tells him the truth about her American heritage, she might lose him forever.

A Year in Europe. Three unforgettable stories. One unforgettable journey.”  Amazon

Model Spy (The Specialists) by Shannon Greenland

Y/A.  “Teen genius Kelly James is in a lot of hot water. A whiz with computers, she agreed to help her college RA, David, uncover some top-secret information. After all, she doesn’t have many friends and David has always been nice to her. it doesn’t hurt that he’s supercute and irresistible, too. All she has to do is hack into the government’s main computer system. but a few hours later, her whole life changes. she is caught and taken in for questioning, only this isn’t your run-of-the-mill arrest. rather than serve a juvenile detention sentence, she accepts the option to change her name and enlist in a secret government spy agency that trains teen agents to go undercover. As if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, she discovers that David works for this agency as well! And before she even begins to understand what is going on, she’s sent on her first mission as an undercover model. And who better to partner with than David himself!”  Amazon 

Down to the Wire (The Specialists) by Shannon Greenland

Y/A.  “GiGi is back, this time teaming up with electronics specialist Frankie, aka Wirenut, for their next mission. Wirenut has an uncanny knack for breaking into the highest-level security systems that stump even the experts. Which is precisely why he was recruited by the Specialists. So when wealthy entrepreneur Octavias Zorba hires the Specialists to recover a stolen neurotoxin, the head of the Specialists is sure that Wirenut is perfect for the job. But there’s a catch. The computer-coded hints that will lead to the neurotoxin are hidden in a few precious artifacts. And when these hints are found, there is limited time to get them decoded or they will disappear forever. But as GiGi and Wirenut begin their mission, they suddenly find themselves on a fast-paced hunt for the criminal, with time quickly running out….”  Amazon 

The Winning Element (The Specialists) by Shannon Greenland

Y/A  “With two successful missions behind her, GiGi is feeling confident and comfortable with the Specialists. Unfortunately, things are about to change. TL has informed her that a notorious chemical smuggler was personally responsible for the death of both her mother and father. The government has been trying to track him down for years, to no avail. Enter the Specialists, and this time, GiGi’s in charge of the mission. Only there’s a catch—the success of the mission depends on many things, including Beaker’s chemical expertise. And Beaker is the last person GiGi wants to deal with. When the mission deems it necessary to go to Florida, Beaker is ready. But when her cover has to be a cheerleader at the national cheerleading competition, Goth-girl Beaker is not too pleased. With personality conflicts, mission challenges, and the demanding schedule of the cheerleading competition, it’s difficult for Beaker and GiGi to focus on the task at hand. Can they put all things aside and find the smuggler, or will their window of opportunity be shut forever?”  Amazon.  Available 4/25/08.

Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne

Y/A.  “Well, apparently I live here now—my mom just bought the place. And named it after me, Ashleigh, which was nice. But did she know how cold it is here??

Um, it’s a tiny island with not much to do, unless you really like sleigh rides. But I gotta say there are quite a few hot guys on this cold island . . .”  Amazon

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the ImmortalNicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Teen.  “Starred Review. Grade 6-9 – Scott uses a gigantic canvas for this riveting fantasy. The well-worn theme of saving the world from the forces of evil gets a fresh look here as he incorporates ancient myth and legend and sets it firmly, pitch-perfect, in present-day California. At the emotional center of the tale are contemporary 15-year-old twins, Josh and Sophie, who, it turns out, are potentially powerful magicians. They are spoken of in a prophecy appearing in the ancient Book of Abraham the Mage, all but two pages of which have been stolen by evil John Dee, alchemist and magician. The pursuit of the twins and Flamel by Dee and his allies to get the missing pages constitutes the book’s central plot. Amid all this exhilarating action, Scott keeps his sights on the small details of character and dialogue and provides evocative descriptions of people, mythical beings, and places. He uses as his starting point the figures of the historical alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife, who have found the secret of immortality, along with mythical beings, including the terrifying Scottish crow-goddess, the Morrigan; the three-faced Greek Hekate; the powerful Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet; and Scathach, a legendary Irish woman warrior and vegetarian vampire. While there is plenty here to send readers rushing to their encyclopedias of mythology and alchemy, those who read the book at face value will simply be caught up in the enthralling story. A fabulous read.”  School Library Journal 

The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) by Michael Scott

Teen.  “After fleeing Ojai, Nicholas, Sophie, Josh, and Scatty emerge in Paris, the City of Lights. Home for Nicholas Flamel. Only this homecoming is anything but sweet. Perenell is still locked up back in Alcatraz and Paris is teeming with enemies. Nicollo Machiavelli, immortal author and celebrated art collector, is working for Dee. He’s after them, and time is running out for Nicholas and Perenell. For every day spent without the Book of Abraham the Mage, they age one year—their magic becoming weaker and their bodies more frail. For Flamel, the Prophesy is becoming more and more clear.

It’s time for Sophie to learn the second elemental magic: Fire Magic. And there’s only one man who can teach it to her: Flamel’s old student, the Comte de Saint-Germain—alchemist, magician, and rock star. Josh and Sophie Newman are the world’s only hope—if they don’t turn on each other first.”  Amazon

A War of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card

Adult, Y/A.  “Set in a war-torn future, this novella moves from the series hero to Zeck, son of an abusive fundamentalist preacher. His phenomenal abilities for memorization and judging a situation make him an ideal candidate for the International Fleet’s Battle School, an academy that trains boys to be brilliant military leaders in an ongoing interstellar war. Despite his mental aptitudes, Zeck proves an unwilling pupil when he refuses to participate in battle simulations, claiming them to be against his religion. These beliefs make Zeck a pariah within the school, pushing him to cry foul when he sees two Dutch students quietly celebrate Christmas–or Sinterklaas Day–by exchanging satirical poems. This kicks off a cultural revolt, pitting students of different religions against one another and against the school in the name of religious freedom. Ender himself plays a small but pivotal role by confronting Zeck and forcing him to deal with the dark issues of his past. Sci-fi purists may be let down by the lack of technology and big-scale military drama that Card is often associated with, but readers looking for a short tale dealing with issues of cultural conflict, religious freedom, and personal discovery will have much to enjoy. Card’s well-imagined characters take this story to places that are both moving and satisfying.”  School Library Journal

Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon, illus. by Gary Gianni.


Adult, Y/A.  “Set more than 1000 years ago, this tale of “Jews with Swords” follows two swindlers, Frankish physician Zelikman and giant African Amram, on their adventures. The young, recently orphaned and dethroned prince known as Filaq is traveling under duress to his grandfather’s house with his guardian when they come across Zelikman and Amram. When the guardian is murdered by pursuers, these two endeavor to complete his task and collect the reward for Filaq’s safe delivery. The prince is later kidnapped by a usurper’s followers, and Amram and Zelikman, along with a cast of soldiers, thieves, religious men, and merchants, set their sights on his rescue and restoration. The Kingdom of Arran and the little-known Khazar Empire, despite the historical distance, ring true, and Chabon clearly describes the sights, sounds, and smells of the region. Gianni’s illustrations help convey the setting and characters clearly. Through these characters’ travels, the author introduces numerous unfamiliar topics (rabbinates, shatranj, and ancient Middle Eastern politics, to name a few) and leaves readers both satisfied and eager to learn more. Although the vocabulary may challenge some teens, the story moves at a rapid pace and is full of surprises. It is sure to find a wide readership among those with an interest in Jewish history or swashbuckling adventure.”  School Library Journal

The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky 


Adult, Y/A.  “Secrets, responsibilities, truths, lies, and justice are some of the issues woven into this story, which begins with Deborah Monroe and her daughter, Grace, driving home in the rain. They are arguing and Grace is at the wheel when out of nowhere a man appears and she hits him. Deborah immediately decides to take responsibility for the accident and sends Grace running home. Being a doctor, she quickly checks for vitals and waits for the police and EMTs. When they arrive, Dr. Monroe answers all their questions and, although she never really lies, she does neglect to tell the sheriff that it was Grace who was driving. Her lies continue as she lets the entire close-knit community and her family believe that she was responsible for the accident. Grace suffers for her mother’s well-intended lie, and circumstances become more complicated when the victim is identified as her history teacher. As the investigation gets underway, it is discovered that Mr. McKenna’s life wasn’t all it appeared to be. As the story continues, readers meet more people whose lives and secrets are exposed. This novel will have teens considering their own moral compass and asking just how honest, dishonest, and secretive anyone can be.”  School Library Journal

Gardens of Water: A Novel by Alan Drew

A Novel 

Adult, Y/A.  “Set in a small town outside Istanbul after the 1999 earthquake, this remarkable debut novel chronicles the complex relationships within and between American and Kurdish families. United by the illicit romance of Dylan, 17, and Irem, 15, two families cope with the losses presented by the quake and the challenges created by their cultural differences. Dylan’s father is one of the Christian Americans providing aid in the camp where Irem’s family has taken refuge. Her father, Sinan, must spend hours away from home working to support his family while also fighting to preserve their values amid incompatible cultural influences. As the relationship between Dylan and Irem develops, Sinan’s inner struggle between love and honor escalates, causing him to make a devastating decision that will end in tragedy for both families. The power and brilliance of this book lie in the skillfully crafted levels of the plot. Readers will find themselves engaged in Sinan’s fight to hold his family together while empathizing with Irem’s desire to redefine herself outside of her conservative Muslim heritage. At the same time, they will be engrossed in the emerging romance while also questioning the motives of the American aid workers in the camp. Sophisticated teens will be further rewarded with the exploration of changing cultural, political, and religious boundaries. This novel will generate a variety of interesting classroom and book club discussions.”  School Library Journal

Patrimony: A Pip & Flinx Adventure (Pip & Adventure Novels) by Alan Dean Foster 


Adult, Y/A.  “When a dying enemy gaspingly tells Flinx where his father might be found, the young space adventurer is unable to resist the chance to learn about his parentage. Flinx and his empathetic minidragon take a break from their quest to save the Commonwealth and travel to the planet of Gestalt. Under the pretense of doing sociological research on its inhabitants, Flinx gains information about a hermit who fits the criteria he has set for his father, known to have been part of a group experimenting in eugenics. When his skimmer and native Tlel guide are shot out of the sky and Flinx is stranded alone in the wilderness, he realizes that he must not only survive the bitter cold of an unknown planet, but also escape the bounty hunter out to collect the price on his head. Equal parts space opera, survival adventure, and bildungsroman, Patrimony is an exciting adventure that takes place in an interesting world. The setting and its inhabitants are fully realized: the Tlel, like most of the creatures on Gestalt, sense the electrical currents of everything around them and have no sense of smell; the plant life has its own defenses; various animals attack in surprising ways. While knowledge of the series would be helpful, this title stands fairly well on its own. Teens will relate to the protagonist and be engrossed in this fast-moving story.”  School Library Journal.  Last of a long series.

The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys


Adult, Y/A.  “This prequel to Humphreys’s Revolutionary War adventure Jack Absolute thrills as it broadens the background of the titular character. The novel opens with a young Jack living in rural England under the heel of his cruel cousin Craster and drunken Uncle Duncan. The somewhat accidental death of Duncan puts him in conflict with the local magistrate until his long-absent parents return and save him from punishment. His family then moves to London, where Jack schemes his way through high and low society, pretending to be a poet, developing underhanded moneymaking plots, and falling in love with every pretty girl he meets. He’s caught mid-dalliance with the alluring mistress of Lord Melbury, and he escapes only when his father kills the man in a duel. To avoid more trouble, Jack joins the military and ships out to Canada to fight in the Battle of Quebec. That explosive introduction to the Americas is just the beginning, though, as the protagonist encounters suspicious Indian tribes and gets lost in the winter wilds of the north with Craster. While Jack is not yet the brilliant spy of the earlier book, readers see glimmers of his skills. He is rash and brash, but also funny and charming. History buffs will find the historical details fairly accurate, but that’s not the point of this raucous tale. It’s best just to sit back and enjoy the wild, colorful adventures of a young man as he connives his way into adulthood.”  School Library Journal

Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde 

Chasing Windmills 

Adult/High School.  “Hyde’s coming-of-age novel is a reimagining of the classic tale of star-crossed lovers–intentionally reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, but fresh and new as well. Sebastian, 17, and Maria, 24, meet while riding New York’s subway trains ’til the wee hours of the morning. He’s a sheltered homeschooler who sneaks out of the apartment after his controlling father takes his nightly sleeping pill. She’s a mother of two who’s afraid to tell her abusive husband that she’s lost her night-shift job. There’s also a fairy godmother–Delilah is a wise old woman who introduces Sebastian to the delights of pizza and DVDs and counsels him on love and the ways of the world. Sebastian and Maria alternate as narrators; short chapters make for a page-turning read and the distinct voices are sweet, soul-baring, and honest. Hyde writes evocatively of the visceral nature of first love. Her characters are well developed, and she describes settings (New York City, a cross-country bus trip, the Mojave Desert) economically but effectively. The ending is realistic and satisfying. Chasing Windmills will appeal to teens who enjoy realistic fiction and a good story about relationships.”  School Library Journal

Dead Man’s Hand: Crime Fiction at the Poker Table by Otto Penzler


Adult, Y/A.  “The mainstream popularity of poker and the intrigue of mystery and crime will ensure demand for this anthology. However, poker enthusiasts may be less satisfied than mystery fans, who will be attracted by such authors as Laura Lippman, Michael Connelly, and Alexander McCall Smith. Stories vary with respect to the depth to which the game is the central theme, but what they all have in common is their accessibility to readers who are not seasoned players. Mystery aficionados will enjoy John Lescroart’s “A Friendly Little Game,” in which the repressed memories of a father’s death lead to new clues in an old crime. Other stories, including Rupert Holmes’s “The Monks of the Abbey Victoria” and Jeffrey Deaver’s “Bump,” use poker as the façade to cover up larger crimes. Teens will be particularly attracted to the tales that portray young adult protagonists. In Joyce Carol Oates’s “Strip Poker,” a teen finds herself in a potentially dangerous poker game, only to turn the tables on her would-be attackers. Christopher Coake’s “Pitch Black” depicts the lengths to which fear and anger can take a teenage musician, and Sue DeNymme’s “Poker and Shooter” is a common yet chilling story of the popular crowd preying on less-fortunate students. Despite the variation in both quality and suspense, teens will find this volume more accessible, plausible, and entertaining than other recently published poker collections, such as Pete Hautman’s Full House.”  School Library Journal


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