JUNE

a Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal
Allie has wanted a nose job since she was 12. Now 16, she has connected with two other girls in a chat room with the same feelings. The story follows the girls plus what is happening to Allie at school. The person Allie most wants to be like is the gorgeous Amber who it turns out is more complex than anyone knew. I liked this a lot. She balances the whole thought process that goes into getting cosmetic surgery. Very thoughtful. YA Very good.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
If you liked her other books (including the Newbery), you'll like this one too. It's a bit fuzzy to follow since there are two story lines moving through the same days and school. The content is certainly timely with social networking issues. Good. 4th+

Pathfinder by Angie Sage
Anyone who has read the Magyk series will love this continuation. A new set of heroes, Alice Todhunter Moon (Tod), Ferdie and Oskar must overcome a terrible plan to take over the magykal world. Though they have lived in a remote and isolated fishing village all of their lives, things fall apart as Ferdie is captured by horrible Garmins. Eventually the Castle and all of our favorites (Septimus Heap, Queen Jen, Marcia, etc) enter the story. Great, as usual. 4th+ Some very scary parts.

Loot: How to Steal a Fortune by Jude Watson
More typically adult fiction material, this story features the son of an international jewel thief who must decipher his dying father's wishes. Seven jewels with a character cast of wildly varying criminals and kids make this breathtakingly fast all the way to the last page. Great plot twists and complications. My only hesitation is the whole illegal side of everything being so glamorous Excellent. 5th+ (violent).

Revolution by Deborah Wiles
The size of this book was a bit off-putting and I've been putting off reading it. After I finally opened it, the setting-1964-grabbed me. It's not really a long read since so many pictures and news clippings are included. Those of course are real. The story which intertwines the story of white girl Sunny and black boy Ray during the long Freedom Summer in Greenwood, Mississippi. The story is good and the tension in the community is palpable. I'm not sure if it will hook many kid readeers, but I was enthralled. Very good. 5th+

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O'Hara
CCBA 15. Otherwise I wouldn't read it. In the vein of Franny K Stein, or Big Nate, but worse. The concept is funny--goldfish dies from exposure to green good and is resurrected with a battery jolt to become a hypnotizing mind-controlling zombie fishy wishy. I can go with that. But the use of "moron" repeatedly and alongside physical abuse of younger siblings makes this almost painful to read. Ick

Mary: the Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Classic horror story. OK for middle school if you are OK with creepiness. I probably wouldn't recommend it for most 6th graders, but I'm not a fan of horror books or movies. Four friends (who argue pretty classically like high school girls) meet together to call forth Bloody Mary, a local legend. But Jess doesn't seem to be revealing all she knows (understatement). Mary shows up in her dead, putrid, odoriferous self and promptly attacks our main character, Shauna. It goes down from there. Well written although there were a couple of loose ends. It's a "debut" novel. YA for death and grossness. OK

Monument14: Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne
YA dystopia is so depressing and I try not to read too many in a row. But I have to admit, this was a gripping story. The original 14 kids who had holed up in a big box story, then escaped to DIA, are divided up in a comfortable camp at a country club in Canada and an awful detention center in Mizzou Missouri. But weird things are going on with government testing (of course) which leads Dean, Niko, Astrid and Jake to go looking for Josie. The ending was just a tad too pat for me, but satisfactory. YA for gross violence and birthing. But not too gross to be middle school.

Tut: The story of my Immortal Life by PJ Hoover
Yes, that Tut. He's in the eighth grade in Washington DC. Living with another immortal Gil who is protecting him, along with his mini-servant Shabtis and cat Horus who is actually a god. But he has been in an eternal vengeance battle with his uncle and it seems to be coming to a climax as the cult of Set wants to take over the world. This is fast moving and has great characters. It's not quite Rick Riordan writing, but not bad. It will be popular for his fans. 4th+ Very Good

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (netgalley)
Pretty dark, but in the vein of The Night Gardener. Serafina has been hiding for her entire life until she sees a specter carrying away a small girl and eventually absorbing her. As Serafina slinks through Biltmore Estate she learns more about the people there and makes a true friend. Serafina herself is quite the mystery-not quite totally human, but what else could she be? Good look at courage.
OK for 4th+ if not scared easily. Very good.

The Heir by Kiera Cass
Listening on audiobook made this slightly more shallow. Because the writing isn't that great. And unfortunately I was almost at the end before I realized this is just the first in another series. Gaagh. It shouldn't take that long to publish the sequel I hope. This one is about the daughter of the original Prince and his selection who becomes queen. Our "heroine" is the first born who will become the first female ruler of Illia. But she's a self-centered diva. This is slowwwwwly revealed to her through her own Selection process. No real surprises. I only want to read the next one to see who she comes down to. I'd be satisfied with one sentence. Too much like watching The Batchelerette. YA for ? kissing? It did keep me awake driving 12 hours to Arkansas.

The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken by Doreen Cronin
Of couse this is only a beginning chapter book, but it's very very funny. I don't want to forget to recommend it to anyone. Excellent.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
I picked up this one because it is on the Goodreads Possible Newbery list. Wow. It was excellent. Sad of course, but hopeful too. Young Micah Tuttle is hoping for a miracle for his terminally ill grandpa. And grandpa is owed a miracle from the LightBender. But Micah must find the circus and demonstrate his belief in magic. He brings along a new but faithful friend, Jenny. Lots of fanciful occasions in this and coming to deep understandings. Cried a lot, but so good. 4th+

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Unusual story. Otto is lost in the woods and meets three sisters who tell him of a prophecy of finding a path. Tied to a magical harmonica, the story continues through Germany in 1933 where Friedrich suffers from Nazi oppression, Pennsylvania in 1935 where Michael and Frankie are orphans, and Southern California in 1942 where Ivy has to help families with sons at war including a Japanese-American family in a camp. All are involved with the harmonica. It was good but required some music background. 4th+ OK

Masterminds by Gordon Korman
AAAAGH--first of a series!! This is good. Though it was a bit slow on the pickup, once the problem is revealed there's plenty of action and tension. And with explosions and coverups, this should appeal to several audiences. Serenity is the most perfect town in the world. Everyone is happy, healthy and prosperous. Until Eli's best friend Randy is suddenly shipped off without even a chance to say goodby. Something screwy is going on, to quote Randy. How long until the next book???? 4th-5th+ Quite good. SciFi, mystery, adventure.

West of the Moon by Margi Preus
Astri has been sold to the Goat Man who is cruel and heartless. This is a story of Norwegian immigration to America in the 1800s but told by a peasant girl with a rich background in Norse legend. Fleeing with her younger sister and a mysterious Spinning Girl while being pursued by the Goat Man, Astri believes getting to America will solve her problems. Hair-raising adventure that floats on the edge of fantasy. Followed by Preus' family history and underlying facts about life in the 1830s. 5th+ very very good

Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard
Beginning chapter book with characters of Kona the chocolate Lab, Stumpy the squirrel, Murray the bat, and Gwendolyn the hermit crab. There's a drought in Gooseberry Park and something must be done. Great for first grade read aloud. 1st+ Good

Another Day by David Levithan
The "companion" to Every Day. Told from Rhiannon's point of view, this is the story of A who inhabits a different body every day. Not quite the tension of the first because it focuses on her relationship with the boyfriend Justin and then with A. The Justin thing was interesting and would make for good discussions with a girls group about "good" relationships. There is quite a bit of sex in this but not graphic and A's explanation of why they can't is food for thought. YA for sexuality. Very well written.

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
Classic Barry. Wyatt, an eighth grader, is going to Washington DC for a class trip. Mostly he just doesnt want to embarrass himself in front of super cool Suzana. But two odd men sitting behind Wyatt and Matt are behaving in peculiar ways. Once the trip starts, the intrigue ramps up considerably until it comes down to a death plot on the President. How did this happen? Light humor, heavy action. a fun read. 4th+ Good

The Desperado Who Stole Baseball by John Ritter
(audiobook) Jack Dillon is riding west to find his uncle John Dillon, the owner of a goldmine and a baseball team. He in intercepted by a young man also headed west and they team up. The plot gets complicated quickly up to a championship match between the Dillon Nine and the Chicago White Stockings. About honesty, courage, and honor. Entertaining. 4th+

Alive by Scott Sigler (netgalley)
uggh. I only finished this because I wanted to find out where they were. This is a futuristic dystopian Lord of the Flies. A group of girls and boys who believe it's their 12th birthday wake up in coffin-like containers with clothes that don't fit and no memory of who they are. Things get worse (lots worse) from there. I didn't enjoy this because I felt like the characters were incredibly immature even for 12 year olds. Not my genre. YA for violence.

Jim and Me by Dan Gutman
Stosh, who travels in time with baseball cards, is approached by his nemesis Bobby Fuller who wants to visit his great grandfather Jim Thorpe. The story follows the relationship of Stosh and Bobby as well as the development of Thorpe who was not a steller ball player. Lots of baseball talk. 4th+

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Classic fantasy. Eight survivers of the Winterian war are still battling to regain the magic conduit that can restore power. Meira, a rescued orphan, has only known this battle. But the evil is strong. Great, thrilling conflicts with an exceptionally strong female lead. Lots of romance but not overt sex. The only qualifying piece might be the violence. But this is war which is actually hell. The continuing theme of sacrifice, self, and value is expecially well done. YA for violence.