When Mike Jung was a kid, I have to believe he was like Vincent Wu, the kinda-geeky, big-hearted, superhero-crazed kid at the center of his debut novel, Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities. Except Vincent is lucky enough to live a world that’s actually populated by real-life superheroes, maniacal evil geniuses, and giant killer robots. Vincent and his best friends, Max and George, are the hands-down experts on Captain Stupendous, even if they don’t get any respect from the “official” Captain Stupendous fan clubs in Copperplate City.  They thought geeking out on Captain Stupendous trivia and regaling his exploits from afar would be the extent of their connectionRead More →

Reminiscent in tone to his Magic Shop Books, Bruce Coville‘s latest, Always October, is an imaginative chase through a land of nightmares. Sixth grade friends, Jake Doolittle and “Weird Lily” Carker, take turns telling the story of their discovery of, journey through, and daring escape from, a parallel universe, Always October, that is filled with humanity’s fears, nightmares, horrors, and monsters (literally).  It all starts on the day when a baby is left on Jake’s doorstep with a note imploring him and his mom (his dad’s been missing for years) to take care of “Little Dumpling.”  Both Jake and his mom are quickly won overRead More →

In a beautifully crafted, delicately told story about hope, family, and love, Patricia Reilly Giff enchanted me with Gingersnap. Set in 1945 in a small town in Upstate New York, Jayna lives with her older brother, and only family, Rob.  When he’s called to active duty on a naval battleship in the Pacific, Jayna goes to stay with their difficult landlady.  But before he left, Rob told Jayna about a suitcase in his closet that contains a cookbook with a name and an address for a bakery in Brooklyn. Could it be a clue to family they don’t know they have?  Then Rob’s ship isRead More →

In Tne Opposite of Hallelujah, Anna Jarzab returns to the familiar territory of a mystery enveloping a dysfunctional family.  But instead of teens trying to deal with grief and solve the mystery of their friend’s death (All Unquiet Things), here we have a long-lost sister returning to a family broken by her absence and a haunting secret that threatens to resurface and wreak havoc again. When Caro was 8, her much older sister Hannah, left home.  Too young to understand why and at a loss to explain her sister’s sudden departure to her friends and schoolmates, Caro started telling everyone that Hannah had died.  ThisRead More →

Linda Gerber’s recent release, Lights, Camera Cassidy captures common tween conflicts such as searching for independence, navigating identity issues, and developing relationships with the opposite sex.  Twelve year old Cassidy Barnett, daughter of reality television stars, likes a challenge and craves attention—until she is in the spotlight and experiences all the drawbacks of the limelight, which demands she wear a plastic smile and practice her princess wave.  When she sneaks out of the house while in Valencia, Spain, to take video and pictures for the blog she writes to stay connected to her deceased grandfather, Cassidy inadvertently catches a contrabandista in the act of committingRead More →

What would you do if you had a problem so large, so immensely and terrible, you just couldn’t bring yourself to face it? Would you want run away from it or deal with it head on? Kendra is in deep trouble and she is anxiously pinioned, unable to decide whether to fight or fly. She’s been cheating for months and someone has finally caught her. She panics, just as her older brother, Grayson, is returning home from rehabilitation. In her despair, she superimposes her problems onto him, believing she can somehow ameliorate her situation by fixing her brother’s obsessive compulsive behavior. With this in mind,Read More →

Readers of science fiction or dystopian literature like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy will likely find fascination in Alaya Dawn Johnson’s inaugural young adult novel, The Summer Prince.  For her story’s setting, Johnson has created Palmares Três, a dream city which rose from the ruins of a world ravaged by plague, war, and destruction.  The city is governed mostly by women since men have done so much to destroy the world with their war games and power plays.  To keep the world from ever dying again, the Queen of Palmares Três creates a composite of the best that the previous world had to offer,Read More →