Thursday, August 25, 2011

Five Stars for Every Soul a Star

Ally, Bree, and Jack couldn't be more different. And in any other situation they probably wouldn't even hang out together, let alone become friends. But something truly magical happens when these three teens meet up at the Moon Shadow Campground to watch the Great Eclipse. And by the time the event is over, all three lives will be changed forever.

Author Wendy Mass delivers yet another amazing story with Every Soul a Star. Each character (nature girl Ally, glamorous Bree, and shy Jack) is exceptionally well-crafted and each demonstrates a tremendous amount of growth over the course of the story. The setting is gorgeous, and readers will find themselves wanting to visit the Moon Shadow to see The Unusuals. This book will make you want to track down the next eclipse and witness the spectacle for yourself. And it might even awaken your inner science geek--in the best possible way.  Every Soul a Star is not to be missed! --AJL

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Buried Secrets

Unable to sleep, 11-year-old Tom sneaks out of his house and heads down to the river that runs through the cliffs near his home. Here, he climbs onto a large piece of packing foam (leftover from the new refrigerator that was delivered earlier that day) and embarks on what he believes will be nothing more than a leisurely float down the river. Little does Tom suspect, he is about to go on the ride of his life! The foam raft sweeps Tom down the river and deposits him into a series of underground caves rumored to hold buried treasure. Here, in the depths of the earth, Tom encounters a stray dog with a knack for disappearing, a long-trapped explorer, ancient artifacts, and deadly secrets that will change his life forever.

Fast-paced, exciting, and uniquely imaginative, N.D. Wilson's  Leepike Ridge will appeal to the adventurous spirit in all who pick it up. --AJL

Friday, August 19, 2011

Three Fantastic Stories

Kizzy, an outcast teenager, wishes more than anything for boys to notice her. Then one day one does notice. Too bad kissing the handsome Jack Husk could cost Kizzy her soul. Kizzy should have been more careful what she wished for... Anamique has gone her whole life without uttering a single word. She fears what will happen if she does speak. Because of a curse, the sound of Anamique's voice is said to bring destruction and death to all who hear it. Then James arrives in Anamique's life and tempts her to test the so-called curse. Maybe it's all just a terrible rumor. Maybe it's not... Young Esme and her mother live a strange life apart from the rest of society. One night Esme hears the howling of wolves outside her bedroom window. Soon afterward, a strange man begins trailing their every move. It's only a matter of time before Esme learns of the horrid, otherworldly nightmare she and her mother have been hiding from all these years...

With Lips Touch Three Times, author Laini Taylor offers three exquisitely-written short stories about demons, devils, goblins, and the transformative power of a single kiss. Gorgeous pen and ink drawings by Jim Di Bartolo enhance each tale beautifully. This one is truly exceptional! Don't miss it! --AJL

Paranormal Whodunit

When you live in a town populated by mythical and paranormal beings, life is sure to be a little, well, odd. Add in a mystery and things can get downright strange. This is how it is for teenage psychic sleuth Daisy Giordano. As if she isn't stressed out enough by college applications, someone has been committing attacks of violence against Nightshade's vampire and werewolf populations. Daisy is positive there's more to these attacks than just the usual prejudices either side has for the other. And when her nemesis Circe Silvertongue returns to town, Daisy is positive the sorceress is involved somehow. But what is Circe's motive? Then signs point to an evil Scourge plot. It's up to Daisy to track down the Scourge's leader and stop the group from eradicating Nightshade's paranormal population. She also needs to figure out how to release Lil and Bam from their decades-old prisons. With a little help from her friends and her psychic skills, Daisy saves the day once again.

Although readers will likely crack this case long before Daisy pieces the clues together, this paranormal whodunit is a lot of fun and an exceptional pleasure to read.  Dead Is Not An Option is the fifth and final book in Marlene Perez's "Dead Is..." series. Although the last in the series, enough background is given that it is not necessaty to read the previous four books before delving into this one. Still, after enjoying this book, you'll want to read about Daisy's other adventures. -- AJL

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What "Team" are YOU on?

Whether expelling rainbow-colored flatulence or drooling mindlessly over the flavor of your brain, you've got to admit that Zombies and Unicorns are both pretty cool. But they can't both be rated equally so. One's GOT to be better than the other. For those of you still undecided about which "Team" to devote your loyalties to, Zombies vs. Unicorns is for you! In this thick volume, you will find many short stories written by some of today's favorite teen authors. Some argue for Team Zombie. Others for Team Unicorn. But in the end it'll be up to YOU, the reader, to decide which side to invest in. But choose wisely...--AJL 

Tiger Style

Not a day goes by that Varjak Paw isn't reminded of how different he is--and not in a good way.  Although Varjak, like all the other cats who live in the house on the hill, is a Mesopotamian Blue, his eyes are an odd yellow instead of the normal green. This makes poor Varjak an outsider among his own clan. One day a strange man appears in his house accompanied by two even stranger cats. Immediately sensing his family is in danger, Varjak escapes the house and ventures into the Outside World in search of help. There, he learns that cats have been mysteriously disappearing all over the city. The only cat who can save the day is one who knows The Way, an ancient feline martial art founded and practiced by legendary Jalal. But only The Chosen One is able to learn The Way. Varjak Paw, misfit, outcast, learns he is more important to his clan (and to all the cats of the city) than he could ever have imagined.

S.F. Said's short novel about an ordinary cat finding something extraordinary within himself is as inspiring as it is entertaining. Formatted after pretty much every martial arts movie ever made (except with critters), this one will find an audience with fans of kung fu and animal fiction. The ending is predictable, but it'll make you happy just the same--AJL

Bad to the Bone

Alexis is a bad girl. She skips class, dyes her hair odd colors, has a hate out on cheerleaders, and walks around with a chip on her shoulder. She's more comfortable when she's seeing the world through a lens of a camera than she is participating in it. Although Bad Girls Don't Die (Katie Alender) begins as a typical high school misfit-type story, the plot quickly turns to mystery--then to horror. Shortly after her family moves to the creepy old house, Alexis's normally sweet younger sister Kasey begins to act strangely sinister. And it's more than just approaching adolescence. Kasey sometimes seems like two different people (her eyes even seem to change color). She loses whole chunks of time. She makes veiled threats. Then people who have angered Kasey begin to have accidents. Something dark and dangerous and deadly is definitely afoot. Through careful research, and the help from a very unexpected friend, Alexis learns Kasey is possessed by the vengeful spirit of a young girl who died mysteriously in her home many decades earlier. Now Alexis must find a way to save Kasey--and her family--before it's too late.

A deliciously creepy book that is impossible to put down. A word of warning: You may want to sleep with the lights on after reading this one. Not that lights really drives away monsters and nightmares, but it's nice to think it does... --AJL

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Have you ever noticed that listening to music just makes life... better? Andi's life could sorely use some improvement-- after the recent death of her younger brother, everything seems seriously messed up. She can't live up to anyone's expectations, it seems-- not her father's, not her friends', not her demanding private school's. The only time she feels stable is when she is playing her guitar or listening to her iPod. So, when her father insists that she turn away from her music to focus on academics, Andi's problems seem insurmountable. That is, until she stumbles, like magic, across a mysterious diary written centuries ago by a young Parisian girl. Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution tells Andi's story-- her grief, her intelligence, and her passion for music-- through her own eyes. 

Great for older teens, especially those interested in history. OEO

Two Guys. One Name. Lots of Drama.

Cast of Characters
Will Grayson: Teenage guy. Average height. Average weight. Number one goal: Manage crazy best friend without going crazy in the process. 
Quote: "I don't really want to be the costar of anyone's life."

Will Grayson: Teenage guy. Average height. Average weight. Number one goal: Survive high school. 
Quote: "everyone in our school has afterschool activities. mine is going home." 

Tiny Cooper:  Teenage guy. Above average height and weight. Will find love, interfere with Will Grayson's life, and put on the most memorable musical in the history of high school, no matter what the cost. 
Quote: "Compromise is when you do what I tell you and I do what I want." 

Jane: Teenage girl. Poofy hair. Likes underground music and Will Grayson. Hates the word "cute."
Quote: "You should always make sure no one's watching when you unlock your locker." 

Maura: Teenage girl. Pale skin. Likes black eyeliner and Will Grayson. 
Quote: "hey, loser. i'm so bored i'm calling you." 

Cue drama of epic proportions. OEO

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

"Mr. Jeavons said that I liked maths because it was safe... This is because Mr. Jeavons doesn't understand numbers." Christopher Boone sees everything and remembers everything. At fifteen years old, he can solve complicated math problems in his head, name every capital city in the world, and comprehend intricate scientific findings with ease. He could tell you exactly what color shirt he was wearing on any day of any year without hesitation. He's not a robot or a superhero-- he's autistic, which means his brain is able to process, organize, and store details with computer-like accuracy. So, when a murder mystery presents itself in his neighborhood, who better to investigate?

A great read for older teens, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows Christopher as he searches the neighborhood for clues and consequently finds out a great deal more than he imagined. OEO

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Girl Power

Sometime over the summer between freshman and sophomore years, the formerly geeky and gawky Frankie Landau-Banks has transformed--seemingly overnight--into a gorgeous girl.  Her new figure has caught the attention of Matthew, one of the hottest guys at Alabaster Prep. But Matthew is a member of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound, an all-male (absolutely NO girls allowed, NO exceptions) secret society that pulls pranks without consequences and pretty much rules the school.  Outraged by the unfairness of this, Frankie devises a most clever plot to infultrate and humiliate the Order. In the end, Frankie makes her point--and then some.

E. Lockhart's expertly-crafted novel, Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, is about being true to yourself and your beliefs--even though it may cost you popularity. Readers will laugh, cry, and cheer for the exceptionally likable Frankie as she gets the better of some very dumb dogs and sticks up for what she knows in her heart to be right. A must read! --AJL

Love Happens

True love is a myth. Real love, though... It may not always be hearts, flowers, and happily ever after, but it's a million times better than any fantasy. And sometimes, love happens in the most unexpected places.  Susane Colasanti's debut novel, When it Happens, is about exactly this.

Sara is thrilled when longtime crush, the popular Dave, finally asks her out. But dating Dave isn't anywhere near as awesome as Sara has been imagining: They have nothing in common. Besides, Sara is searching for "something real" and Dave only wants one thing. Meanwhile, Tobey has been watching and waiting for his chance with Sara. Although the two couldn't be more different, the relationship works and the two get together mid-book. But different goals and ghosts of relationships past threaten to divide this seemingly golden couple. Both Sara and Tobey learn important lessons about the reality of love and how to make real relationships work. When it Happens is a sweet story peopled with realistic, rateable characters. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han's Summer trilogy will especially enjoy this one. --AJL

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grand Theft Auto

Kelleigh seems like the average American fifteen-year-old. She goes to school, hangs out with friends, fights with her parents, and... steals cars. Lots of cars. She just can't help it, really-- she's addicted to the gentle roar of an engine left unattended, the perfect silence inside a Mercedes Benz, and the thrill of knowing that she's always only one small step ahead of a whole lot of trouble. Whether it's her parents, the law, or her own conscious chasing her, she can't avoid getting caught forever... can she? 

To find out, read Pete Hautman's How to Steal a Car. It's sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always thrilling, and never, ever boring. -OEO