Reading List 2016
FEBRUARY
I.Q. book 6: Alcatraz by Roland Smith and Michael Spraolin
Closure to this complicated action series. Lots of loose ends tied up. Still very very exciting to the very end. Angela and Q have foiled multiple attempts at overthrowing the US, but it comes down to Number One seeking something that has been hidden for years. Something with supernatural power. Great backstory. Necessary to read the first five to really follow this one. Very Good 5th+

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
A short but moving vignette about a boy who has to deal with being homeless, again. Part of the way he deals is his imaginary friend the giant cat, Crenshaw. Not especially strong in the closure arena, but a touching story. Comparable to the One and Only Ivan. Good. 3rd+

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos
Another mystery involving the not-so-young Jack and the ancient Miss Volker. Spizzer has appeared and another old lady is dead. Ms Volker vows revenge a la Captain Ahab (she even has a harpoon!). Lots of literary allusions and historical commentary. The mystery itself wraps up suddenly in the last few pages. It may take a mature reader to slog through this. 5th+ Good

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Bradley
Ada and Jamie are abused by their cruel and poor mother. Then when war is declared, the children of London are shipped out to the country. Ada overcomes huge obstacles to make it to the train and eventually the home of Miss Susan Smith. She blossoms as she learns to walk on her clubfoot and ride Susan's pony Butter. This is painful at times but beautiful. For mature readers. 4th+ Excellent.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Lucy knows she is the soulmate of Shadow, the mystry graffiti artist. But who is he. This is the story of a night with two of her girlfriends and three boys as they hunt for Shadow. Except Ed actually is Shadow. Great romance, tension with what success is. The only problem is the language and lax attitude toward casual sex. (They are all graduating high school.). OK for older kids. Not middle school. Well written.

The Edge by Roland Smith
Peak is climbing again. This time his mother accompanies him on a PEACE climb in Afganistan. But things go terribly terribly wrong. Peak's mother is a great character--still mom but strong and unflappable even in the worst situations. This book is not for younger readers--several violent deaths. But it is realistic and treats killing in an appropriate way (as devastating). So well written. Should appeal to boys looking for action. Excellent 5th+

Bad Luck by Pseudonymous Bosch
part two of the story of Clay at EarthRanch learning more about magic. This time there are dragons. Lots of action and satisfactory if unfinished ending. I liked this one better than the first. Very good. 4th+

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Scarlet Letter meets Divergent? Not quite. Once again I am offended that the evil villain is the "fundamentalist" who screams "Repent!" while committing inhuman torture. Then there are the students led by the son of the pastor who is a steriotypical hypocrite and mean spirited. ugh. Our heroine is not particularly clear on what she believes either. The premise is mildly interesting, but not as good as many. Meh. YA for violence.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Rory is small for his class and is bullied by Grim Tommy-Lee. Until they both turn green. Are they super heroes? Super villians? What's going on and what is happening to London? Misadventures multiply. The Britishisms may put off some of our readers, but the story is terrific. I liked this one. 4th+

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd
Emma was waiting for her Destiny Dream like all of the women before her in the family and recorded in the Book of Days. She's sad from the Big Empty (her mother's death) but trying to move on. Grandmother Blue is her rock along with her brother Topher, but they are indanger of losing the family home and graveyard. If she could only find the treasure the Conductor ghost has talked about. Mystery + magic. 3rd+ Excellent.

MasterMinds: Criminal Destiny by Gordon Korman
Eli, Tori, Malik and and Amber are on the run from the Purple People Eater police of Serenity, the most perfect town in American. They know they are clones and need to find help in exposing Project Osiris. This one moves like a runaway train. And there's a huge twist at the end. Great action and characters. 4th+