17 Again

Media Type: Major Motion Picture
Date of Release: April 17, 2009
DVD Release: August 11, 2009
Distributor: Newline Cinema
Director: Burr Steers
Actors: Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon
Rating: PG-13
Age Level: 11+
Viewer’s Annotation: Mike O’Donnell knows if he only made the right decision when he was 17, than his whole life would be different. What happens when Mike is given the chance to be 17 again?
Summary: At 17 Mike has his whole future to look forward to. He loves his girlfriend, and is the star of the basketball team; a sure scholarship in the works at tonight’s big game. Everything changes when Scarlett, his girlfriend, tells him she’s pregnant. Twenty years later Mike regrets his decision to blow the scholarship ride, and he blames Scarlett for his life. Reliving his former glory days, Mike is met by a strange janitor who mysteriously gives him the chance to re-do his choice; by making him 17 again at the same school where his teenage son and daughter attend.
Evaluation: This is a really good film. Zac Efron walks a thin line between being ridiculous as a teenager, and being perfectly cast as a believable adult. Secondary characters move the story along, and Mike’s best friend is hilarious in his pursuit of the school principal. A heartwarming movie that surprises the audience with it’s’ sincerity and honesty.
Additional Info: A huge hit with rabid HSM fans. Zac is adorable as ever.
Selection: I showed this film at our Teen Movie Night.


Media Type: Television Program
Episode: Preggers
Station: Fox
Air Date: September 23, 2009
Actors: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Matthew Morrison
Age Level: 12+
Viewer’s Annotation: Quinn finds out she’s pregnant, Kurt tries out for the football team and Sue tries once again to take down the Glee team.
Summary: Quinn finds out she’s pregnant, but is Finn really the father. In an effort to show unity and impress his dad Kurt tries for the football team that leads to a hilarious rendition of Beyonce’s hit song, danced to by boys in football pads. Sue talks to Sandy in an effort to get Schuester kicked off Glee.
Evaluation: I love this episode because of the scene between Kurt and his dad. All his life Kurt knows he is gay, and fears that his father will actually find out. He says dancing to Beyonce is a work out session. At the end, he comes out to father who simply says “I know.” I thought it was wonderful that the father already knew his son’s sexuality, and responded with I love you anyways. Perfect.
Additional Info: First season.
Selection: Love the show, period. Fox has managed to discuss important topics without too much weight, it’s remarkable.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Media Type: Major Motion Picture
Date of Release: July 15, 2009
DVD Release: December 8, 2009
Distributor: David Yates
Director: Warner Bros.
Actors: Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Rating: PG
Age Level: 10+
Viewer’s Annotation: Harry Potter joins his friends for his sixth year at Hogwart’s Academy while somewhere Voldemort gains strength and power.
Summary: Harry’s six year at Hogwart’s finds him still struggling with the death of her uncle, and bearing the weight of being “the Chosen One.” Now that the wizarding world is aware of Voldemort’s return, and the Muggle World finds the unexplainable happening, Dumbledore finally takes Harry under his wing. Harry must journey with Dumbledore into the depths of the past to learn the truth about Voldemort’s beginnings.
Evaluation: The sixth theatrical release was everything that the fans were waiting for. The fights were bigger, the tension more gut wrenching and the teen angst more angsty. The actors playing the primary characters have finally come into their own, and truly own the characters they portray. The seasoned cast of Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape once again prove their acting prowess as storylines deepen and lines are drawn. The final fight scene feels somewhat rushed, and the movie ends without the cathartic funeral of one of the main characters, but fans will be pleased by the overall feel of the film and its adherence to the text.
Additional Info: The sixth movie released in the huge Harry Potter franchise.
Selection: Huge fan, saw the midnight showing

New Moon Soundtrack

Media Type: Audio CD
ASIN: B0029O08WA
Date of Release: October 16, 2009
Label: Chop Shop, Atlantic
Artists: Death Cab for Cutie, Muse, The Killers, more.
Age Level: 9+
Listener’s Annotation: Soundtrack for the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Soundtrack includes music heard throughout the movie as well as additional music.
Summary: Music includes several songs specifically written for this film: “Meet me on the Equinox,” “I Belong to You (New Moon Remix)” and “White Demon Love Song.” Additional songs are atmospheric and quirky. Album is not mainstream and will appeal to those looking to match the feel of the movie.
Evaluation: A great soundtrack. Finally someone has realized that listeners want exactly the same music on a CD that they heard during the film. The songs chosen for this soundtrack mimic the feel of the movie creating atmosphere, drama and (usually) some type of angst. Songs written specifically for the film are excellent and it’s nice to have a song included by Muse (Meyer’s musical inspiration for the series).
Additional Info: Soundtrack for film: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Selection: I bought this CD because I am a fan of the books, and the film.


Media Type: website
Address: www.pandora.com
Age level: all ages
Summary: Your favorite music, your way. Pandora is an interactive site that allows you to enter a type of music “Christmas” or artist “Brittany Spears” and it will make a station that has similar music. Features include skipping, rating and building your own station.
Evaluation: What an awesome site! When my teen taught me to use this I was so impressed. The site bills itself as the “music genome project” bringing like music together. I was able to rock out all morning to a wonderful mixture of Christmas music.
Selection: One of my volunteers uses my work computer to complete bibliographies – just cross checking titles to make sure they’re available. She asked if she could listen to Pandora and I had no clue what it was.

Rock Band

Media Type: Video Game
Platform: Playstation
Date of Release: December 18, 2007
Distributor: Sony
ESRB Rating: Teen
Age Level: All Ages
Summary: A four player game where the action takes you into a band. You and your band mates can play as a band, or solo. The more times you play as a band, the more titles and songs you unlock.
Evaluation: So much more fun than Guitar Hero. Since this game plays as a band, you can have up to four players at one time: guitar, bass, vocals and drums. The songs are fun, and you unlock more as you go.
Additional Info: Great game to move onto when your tweens are sick of Guitar Hero.
Selection: We recently purchased this game for our Teen Gaming Night.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Media Type: Major Motion Picture
Date of Release: June 24, 2009
DVD Release: October 20, 2009
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Michael Bay
Actors: Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel
Rating: PG-13
Age Level: 12+
Viewer’s Annotation: Optimus Prime must enlist Sam in an attempt to save the Earth when the Decepticons learn about an ancient power that could give them control on our planet.
Summary: The movie picks up two years after the first film with Sam going to college, and Optimus working with the US military to locate and destroy errant Decepticons. Apparently, Megatron is not the head of the Decepticons, instead he is servient to The Fallen; the first deceiver of the Primes. The plot gets lost at this point as Sam finds a sliver of the all-spark which imprints on his brain giving him the lost location of a great weapon that could be used for good or evil.
Evaluation: My husband called this film two hours of trailers, and I have to agree. The story did not really advance, and the whole film seemed more interested in playing on the sex theme than anything else. Language and crude humor dominate this film, ruining the good old fashioned fun of transformers and the first film in the franchise. A real shame. This is especially true since tweens are sure to watch this movie and parents will get much more than they expect.
Additional Info: Sequel to blockbuster Transformers.
Selection: I loved this first film and recently showed this one at the library.

Twilight Saga – New Moon

Media Type: Major Motion Picture
Date of Release: November 20, 2009
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Director: Chris Weitz
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattison, Taylor Lautner
Rating: PG-13
Age Level: 10+
Viewer’s Annotation: When Edward leaves Bella she struggles to pull herself together with the help of Jacob; who has secrets of his own.
Summary: Life is rosy for Bella and Edward who have found a way to be together despite the tempting scent of Bella’s blood. An inopportune papercut puts Bella in danger, and Edward, in a selfless act to protect his love, decides to leave Bella – “it will be as if I never existed.” With Edward gone, Bella falls apart unable to hold her life together without Edward to orbit. She slowly becomes friends with Jacob who make her feel better, despite her growing knowledge that he sees their friendship as something more. Through a series of misunderstandings (Romeo and Juliet, anyone?) Edward comes to believe that Bella has died, and sets himself on a path of vampire suicide via the Vulturri.
Evaluation: The second movie in the Twilight franchise puts Twilight (2008) to shame. Director Chris Weitz has pulled out all the stops to fix the issues that were obvious in the first film. Special effects have improved an enormous amount. The actors have really grown into their characters. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenburg does a fantastic job of condensing a very long novel into the essential plot points without depriving her audience. A wonderful addition to the series that will leave fans clamoring for Eclipse (June 30, 2010).
Additional Info: The second movie released in the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyers
Selection: I admit it, I’m a huge fan. I saw the midnight showing.

The Vampire Diaries

Media Type: Television Program
Episode: Pilot
Station: The WB
Air Date: September 10, 2009
Actors: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder
Age Level: 12+
Viewer’s Annotation: When Stephen returns to the town of Mystic Falls Elena finds herself drawn to him and his mysterious life.
Summary: In the first episode viewers receive the basic set up. Elena is a normal teenager, living with her young aunt and her drug addicted brother after the car wreck that killer her parents. Elena is determined to start the new school year with a positive attitude so that the town around her stops the pitying glances and the whispered comments. Stephen is new in town, and seems mysteriously drawn to Elena and likewise. Bonnie, Elena’s best friend, hides her psychic gift, but can’t help but recognize something different about Stephen. At the end of the first episode viewers meet Damon, Stephen’s older brother, who antagonizes his younger brother and taunts him with Elena’s name. Viewers learn both are vampires who have returned to Mystic Falls, their hometown. But, what does Elena have to do with that?
Evaluation: The first episode stayed remarkably true to the original series, which was really refreshing. The actors are cast really well, and the African American woman playing Bonnie is a welcome change to Smith’s original character: a flighty red head with no direction.
Additional Info: This series is based on a series of books released in the early 90’s of the same name by L.J. Smith.
Selection: I still have the paperbacks of the original series. I am both highly amused and incredibly happy that the books have been reprinted; and a series created from the itles.


Media Type: website
Address: www.wikipedia.com
Age level: all ages
Summary: Wikipedia is a search engine in wiki format. This allows anyone to add and/or edit pages on the site.
Evaluation: Due to its interactive nature wikipedia is not always the most dependable one-stop research tool. People can log on and provide information that is just plain wrong or mistaken. However, it is also highly used by the proposed age group as a first stop for homework assignments. Wikipedia should not be the only source used, but it can certainly be helpful in understanding a larger concept in the simplest language.
Selection: I took a reference course this semester that had weekly “mini-assignments.’ Many of them used unfamiliar terms and people. Using wikipedia I was able to gain a common ground with the terminology and move onto more respected research sites. That being said, I think wikipedia needs to be re-evaluated in the academic field as a useful first tool to start from. We tell tweens and teens that it’s not a good source when in reality it’s great to use to get a grip on unknown topics.

3 Willows – Ann Brashares

ISBN: 9780385736763
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 10+
Reader’s Annotation: When three best friends start to fall apart at the start of middle school, each must make a conscious choice to fight for their friendship.
Summary: Ann Brashares is on familiar ground with this story of three young girls. Polly, Jo and Ama met in third grade, but things change when you get older. During the summer before 9th grade each girl finds herself drawn to other friends and other activities. It seems the things that held them together for so long, are no longer the things that they each find important. Don’t think that this is a repeat of the Sisterhood series. Instead, this first title in a proposed trilogy deals with younger girls navigating a friendship that has already been lost. While Tibby and Lena make brief appearances, fans will be disappointed if they expect another round with the traveling pants.
Evaluation: Aimed at a solid tween market, Brashares once again does a great job of naming that un-nameable feeling that teens are often faced with.
Author Info: Author of hugely popular Sisterhood series
Booktalk Ideas: Are you still friends with the girls you grew up with? Why not?
Selection: I love the Sisterhood books and really looked forward to this one.

A Field Guide to High School – Melissa Walsh

ISBN: 9780385734103
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 11+
Reader’s Annotation: Confused as to what to expect going into high school? Have no fear, you hold in your hand’s the Field Guide to High School – everything you need to know to navigate your crucial freshman year.
Summary: This title is exactly that; a field guide to high school. Graduating senior Claire decides to impart on her leaving to college a “field guide” to her young sister Andie who will be starting high school in the fall. The entire novel is told in entries made by Claire and pasted into a Peterson’s guide book about poisonous plants and animals. So, for instance, cliques and groups are discussed under the heading of “Poisonous Animals.” Andie spends the morning that Claire leaves for college reading this guide with her best friend who will be attending a different high school come fall. While the idea of the novel is fantastic, there is no character development or storyline to speak of. Instead readers will get a play by play of the high school environment without ever caring about any of the things you learn. Despite this, the book will find many readers simply due to its title, and will certainly help younger readers form opinions about high school during the summer after 8th grade.
Evaluation: A short and fast read. Since tweens tend to read up, this is a sure bet by younger teens wanting to know what high school is really like.
Booktalk Ideas: the truth about high school
Selection: I thought it would be interesting to hear what high school is “really” like. I’ve now determined that like pregnancy and birth, every high school experience is different.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian – Sherman Alexie

ISBN: 978-0316068208
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Junior knows that hope exists, he’s just sure it’s not to be found at his home on the Spokane Reservation. When Junior makes the decision to earn a better education, and the way out of his depressed Indian community, he learns many things about his culture and himself.
Summary: Junior is a Spokane Indian with a desire to get out and survive. He doesn’t want to be like his sister or his grandma, or his dog for that matter. In order to find a place with hope, Junior enrolls at the all white school twenty miles from his house. What happens at Riordan challenges Junior’s assumptions about his tribe and himself.
Evaluation: A great title that will reach out to everyone who has ever felt outcast by his community or school. Junior is a resilient character that stays with you, and challenges you to get outside your comfort zone.
Author Info: Acclaimed adult author of poetry, books and screen plays. This book won the National Book Award.
Booktalk Ideas: How would you feel if . . . death? Indian? Hopeless?
Challenges: Frank discussion of masturbation.
Selection: Assigned reading, although I will admit to liking this book much more on my second reading.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary Pearson

ISBN: 978-0805076684
Publisher: 978-0805076684
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Level:
Reader’s Annotation: Jenna Fox wakes up from a coma knowing that something is different, but unable to tell just what. Tiny details finally add up to a truth that Jenna, and readers, will barely be able to accept.
Summary: Jenna Fox has boxes of videos of herself that her parents took: her at ballet recitals, at picnics, at every point in her life. The only problem is that she appears quite a few inches taller in these videos than she is now. See, Jenna just woke up after suffering a massive accident that left her memory in pieces, and her two best friends dead. Her parents won’t discuss the accident, and her grandmother refuses to call her Jenna. Jenna knows something is wrong, but can’t quite piece together the wreck, salvaged memories and odd dreams that keep telling her to check out her father’s office into a cohesive whole. Pearson has constructed a haunting tale about a not too distant future, and what may be possible. Readers will search alongside Jenna for a truth that makes sense and be just as shocked when Jenna discovers just how much her parents adore her.
Evaluation: A truly freaky title. This novel will scare readers simply with the reality of what our advanced world may soon be able to achieve.
Author Info:
Booktalk Ideas: how much do your parents love you?, what makes a human human?
Selection: The idea behind this book is startling. And, given the hype, I wanted to know what was behind it all.

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret – Judy Blume

ISBN: 9780689841583
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: Everything is different for Margaret: her family just moved to New Jersey, she doesn’t have any friends and she’ll be starting a new school in the fall. What haven’t changed are her nightly conversations with God where she lets him know how she’s feeling.
Summary: Margaret is a fairly normal pre teen. She worries about what her friends think about her, the boy she likes, her bra size and when she’ll get her period. What Margaret worries about the most is her lack of religion. Her Christian mother and her Jewish father have raised her without religion, allowing her to make the choice when she’s older. As the year progresses Margaret tries out the religions of those around her: Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian. None of these feel right, and while she struggles with a God that she can’t talk to in a physical building, she realizes that the God she speaks to nightly is enough.
Evaluation: Wow. Now I know what everyone has been talking about for 30 years! This is truly a wonderful novel to pre-teens approaching definitive moments in their lives and development.
Author Info: Judy Blume is the author of many books, and a strident promoter of intellectual freedom.
Booktalk Ideas:
Challenges: Discussion of periods and breast size, pre-teens looking at playboy and anatomy books, explorative look at religion.
Selection: I’ve been meaning to read this one for the past 10 years, and it always got shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

ISBN: 978-0316042673
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Co.
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Ethan has always dreamed of Lena, not knowing who she was. When she suddenly appears in his small town his dreams become reality.
Summary: Ethan’s dreams are haunted by visions of a beautiful girl who somehow always falls away from him. He wakes, covered in mud, windows open and shaking from the truth that his dream is reality. When he meets Lena Duchannes, it’s like the girl from his dream has come alive. And Lena knows Ethan too, inexplicably. This story involves a gothic Southern mansion, a young girl with unclaimed powers, and a teen boy with no idea how deeply he is in.
Evaluation: Slow to build, the ending packs a punch for readers who are willing to stick around. Sequel must be in the works.
Author Info: First time author duo
Booktalk Ideas: do you believe in curses?
Selection: This is the book everyone was talking about on the list-serves this Fall.

Before I Die - Jenny Downham

ISBN: 9780385751551
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Tessa has leukemia and is going die, but she’s not going down without a fight. In her final months she compiles a “to-do” list and is determined to finish everything on it.
Summary: Tessa has terminal cancer and has decided to go home and enjoy the life she has left to her. With this in mind she creates a to-do list that includes everything from sex to doing drugs. This seems like a good plan, until her list starts to alienate her family and friends. And how exactly does one go about getting the things they want without letting everyone know they’re dying? Tessa’s story is heartbreaking and readers will be unable to finish in one sitting, even though they would like to. The struggle to stay upbeat and alive while knocking on death’s door is becoming increasingly popular in the young adult field, but Downham strikes true with this text and readers are rewarded with a powerful novel about living the life that is given to you.
Evaluation: A heartbreaking novel that teaches just how precious life is. A great read for tweens and teens who sometimes need reminders about the value of life. Final chapter is heart-rending.
Booktalk Ideas: What would you do if you knew you were going to die?
Challenges: Tessa does all the “bad things” on her list: drugs, drinking and sex.
Selection: I wanted to see a strong teen struggling with knowledge of her death.

Bloom - Elizabeth Scott

ISBN: 978-1416926832
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: When Evan breezes back into Lauren’s life she’s not sure how to handle the situation. One thing she does know though, nothing can ever go back to the way it was before.
Summary: Lauren lives the perfect life. She earns good grades, has good friends and her boyfriend is the uber popular Dave. The only problem is that she’s not exactly happy with the perfect life she lives. Enter Evan, the little boy that she grew up with for a short period when her father and his mother decided to move in together. Evan is no longer the sweet boy that she remembers reading C.S. Lewis with; instead he looks bruised and battered. It doesn’t take long for Lauren’s attraction to Evan to grow, and her feelings for Dave to diminish completely.
Evaluation: High school is tough, no matter what, and Scott nails Lauren’s feelings of confusion and misdirection while she tries to decide what is truly important to her. Bloom is a love story, and readers will be interested to find out who Lauren chooses. It is also a wonderful novel about one young girl learning to stand on her own two feet and make the choices that she must make. A great read for reluctant readers and those searching for something a little deeper than chic lit this summer.
Author Info: author of “Living Dead Girl”
Booktalk Ideas: What do you do when you no longer want what you most desired?
Selection: I fell in love with Living Dead Girl, and wanted to read some of the author’s other works.

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

ISBN: 978-0439023498
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Level: 11+
Reader’s Annotation: With the Quarter quell games upon them Katniss and Peeta find themselves thrust back into the world of the Hunger Games; help less pawns in a larger struggle for power in Panem.
Summary: The second book in the series finds Katniss and Peeta touring the twelve districts and experiencing first hand the spirit of uprising that their near suicide inspired. Unknowingly complicating their lives, Peeta pledges money to Rue’s family and district and brings more trouble for all involved. When the Quarter Queel games approach, the game makers pull out all the stops and demand tributes from former winners in each district. And so, Katniss and Peeta head back into the arena. Theis sequel complicates the storyline, and expands upon the political backdrop of Panem. Secrets are revealed, alliances are tried and truths come to be questioned.
Evaluation: This is a fantastic follow up to Hunger Games. It’s also a novel in itself, so often sequels in a trilogy end up being place holders where readers don’t learn anything new. This is not the case with Catching Fire. Readers will love Katniss as she continues to grow and explore her options, and they will aganize over the choices forced upon her. A worthy sequel that makes us all the more desperate for the conclusion.
Author Info: Author of Gregor series.
Booktalk Ideas: Political implications, Pregnancy, boys and marriage
Selection: I’ve waited for the sequel all summer – I was so excited when I scored a galley.

Chiggers - Larson Hope

ISBN: 9781416935841
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young People
Genre: Graphic Novel
Age Level: 10+
Reader’s Annotation: Abby is excited to go back to camp until she realizes she doesn’t quite fit in anymore. She feels ignored and unwanted. Then Shasta shows up with her fabulous stories and older boyfriend. The only problem is that no one likes Shasta either.
Summary: Abby is saddened to return to camp and find herself alone. During the year it seems like everyone has grown up but her. Her friends have piercing and boyfriends and talk about bands. Abby just wants everything to go back to normal. When Shasta picks Abby as her new friend, it alienates her from her old crowd. Abby has to find a way to walk the middle ground while staying true to herself and both sets of friends.
Evaluation: I didn’t get this graphic novel, and perhaps that is the reason. Instead of seeming endearing and sad Abby comes off as annoying and childish. I felt more for Abby’s old friends, who seemed to be growing out of her, than for Abby – who just couldn’t keep up. I think this may be due to an inability to slow down and “read” the page spreads. The action takes place so quickly when I scan a page, that there is no passage of time for the characters.
Author Info: Hope Larson is the winner of an Eisner award in the Special Recognition category.
Booktalk Ideas: Growing out of your friends?
Challenges: none
Selection: Great cover. I know more about teen graphic novels, so this was a good time to branch out.

Coffeehouse Angel - Suzanne Selfors

ISBN: 978-0802798121
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 11+
Reader’s Annotation: Katrina doesn’t think much about the homeless guy outside her grandma’s coffeeshop; she just leaves a cup of coffee to warm him up. The problems start when the homeless guys turns out to be a rather cute kilt wearing angel who has to grant Katrina her heart’s true desire before he can earn his wings.
Summary: Katrina just wants to be nice when she leaves the homeless guy some scones and a cup of coffee. When the homeless guy shows up later as the adorable Malcolm Katrina is torn: believe that he is an angel come to grant her her own desire, or admit that he may be off his meds. Add a dash of coffeehouse intrigue, a nefarious neighboring shop owner and funny old sailors and you have the perfect read for a cold winter’s night.
Evaluation: A great clean read for younger readers. The characters are likeable; the plot moves at a brisk pace and readers will be genuinely concerned about the fate of the coffeehouse. While the ended is rather unlikely, it makes sense for this story and will appeal to the romantic interests of younger readers.
Author Info: Author of Saving Juliet
Booktalk Ideas: What would you wish for if you could have your heart’s desire?
Challenges: Honestly, cannot think of any. Very clean read.
Selection: I wanted to find a romance book that appealed to the senses of older tweens with plot and character, but that could be safely read by younger tweens.

Enna Burning - Shannon Hale

ISBN: 1582348898
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: Enna has always searched for a power inside herself, like her friend Isi’s ability to talk to the wind. When Enna discovers her own powerful talent, will she have the strength to control it?
Summary: Enna’s talent is revealed in this second book in the Bayern series. Enna relishes her new found ability to talk to and control fire, but her enthusiasm is tempered by her brother’s death by fire. When war comes to Bayern and the Forest folk unite to fight alongside their new King and Queen Enna must choose to accept her talent, or succumb to its power.
Evaluation: Reader’s clamoring for more about Bayern, Isi and Enna will be thrilled with this companion book. Enna’s story takes forefront in this story while she’s tested by more than fire. Meanwhile, we learn more about Isi, Finn and Razo. A great companion novel.
Author Info: The sequel to Hale’s first novel.
Booktalk Ideas: What power do you wish you could have? What are the downsides of that power?
Challenges: There is one very short (few sentences) of an attempted physical abuse. The rape is stopped when another character enters the scene, but it may be too much for some parents.
Selection: Sequel to Goose Girl. I want to read the whole series now.

Eternal - Cynthia Leitch Smith

ISBN: 9780763635732
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Horror
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Zachary loves Miranda; the only problem is that he is her guardian angel. Add to this issue the little fact that Miranda is a newly made vampire and then prepare yourself for a classic tale of good versus evil, high school style.
Summary: Set in the same universe at Smith’s freshman effort, Tantalize, Eternal offers a brand new cast of irresistible characters drawn into a fantasy world. Miranda is shy, dominated by her best friend and tired of her divorced parents constant bickering. Zachary is Miranda’s guardian angel. Not only has he watched and loved her from birth, but recently discovers that he is in love with her. Taunted into joining her best friend in a cemetery to meet an older guy, Miranda is bitten by Dracula himself. Fast forward one year and Miranda is Dracula’s newly minted Princess and Zachary has fallen from grace in his attempt to save her. When Miranda posts an ad for a personal assistant, Zachary is given the chance to regain grace if only he can save Miranda’s soul.
Evaluation: This is a fast and fun read for those who enjoy the vampire genre. It is also a refreshing take on vampire mythology with the addition of Zachary’s divine character. Readers will look forward to Blessed, Smith’s upcoming third book where characters from her previous two novels will meet.
Author Info: Author of Tantalize
Booktalk Ideas: Angel v vampire – who wins?
Challenges: some Christian parents may not like the meeting of angels and vampires
Selection: I loved Tantalize, and I wanted to read the companion novel.

Evermore - Alyson Noel

ISBN: 978-0312532758
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Horror
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Ever’s life is increasingly difficult since the death of her parents and sister have left her with clairvoyant talent. Her only respite is Damon, the new student at her school who calms the voices in her head
but comes with his own set of mysterious circumstances.
Summary: Ever lives in a world of chaos created by her clairvoyant ability. Ever since the deaths of her parents and little sister, Ever is plagued by the thoughts, auras and emotions of those around her. She can tell what everyone is thinking all the time, whether she wants to or not. And she receives daily visitations from her sister, who didn’t cross over with her parents. All this changes when Damon enrolls at her high school. When he touches her, she no longer hears the chaotic thoughts of those around her. But things don’t quite add up: Damon never seems to eat, he won’t let her visit his house and her friend Haven is mysteriously taken by Damon’s friend Drina.
Evaluation: While this book provides a welcome respite to the vampire heavy horror field, Noel’s take on The Immortals is too close to the whole vampire mythology. Also, since the revelation about Damon’s true self is so late coming readers may simply get bored and give up on the love affair between Damon and Ever. That being said, this is a fun and fast novel that many teens will enjoy.
Booktalk Ideas: which is better? Vampire or Immortal? What’s the difference?
Selection: This book is just now gaining ground, I wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Fly on the Wall - E. Lockhart

ISBN: 9780385732826
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Have you ever wished that you could see what was happening in places you can’t go? Say, like the boy’s locker room?
Summary: In a nod to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Lockhart gives us Gretchen Yee. Gretchen attends school at Ma-Ha, Manhattan School for the Arts, where she resists the uniform conformity to be non-conformist. She worries about her looks, her divorcing parents, her inability to master drawing in a style outside of Marvel comics. Most of all, she wonders why she doesn’t understand boys; and wishes, just for a moment, to be a fly on the wall in the boy’s locker room. In a piece of unexplained magic Gretchen ends up as just that. As a fly she sees the obvious, (naked boys) as well as the un-obvious: bullying, discomfort, fear and more. The novel ends with Gretchen asserting herself in a way she’s never been able to before, and being comfortable in her own skin; whether as a fly or a human.
Evaluation: This is a very fast read for reluctant readers and gets quite a few laughs. Gretchen will find fans for her fierce individuality and Lockhart will certainly attract an audience with her blunt characterizations of a high school locker room.
Author Info: More titles in this series.
Booktalk Ideas: What power would you like? Invisibility? Super hearing?
Challenges: Some parents may be uncomfortable with the premise of a teen girl in a male locker room
Selection: I’ve read several of Lockhart’s other titles, but never picked this one up before.

Gone - Michael Grant

ISBN: 978-0061448768
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Level: 10+
Reader’s Annotation: Have you ever wanted all the adults in your world to disappear -no more parents, teachers and annoying older people? What would you do if this actually happened?
Summary: Imagine one minute you’re talking to your mom, and the next minute she’s disappeared. Not only your mother though, but every mother, every person over the age of 14. This is exactly the situation that 13 year old Sam finds himself in. The town falls apart as young kids are forced to find solutions to everyday problems; who will take care of the babies, run the power plant and turn off all the electricity. Sam, and his friends, are soon pitted against kids from the Coates Academy on the hill; both trying to retain authority in a new world.
Evaluation: Like Lord of the Flies, both groups suffer casualties as they try to discover where everyone has gone and why. Add a twist of psychic power, and Grant has given the reader a rich world to explore in further sequels. Both frightening and haunting in it's plot, Gone is a title that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned. Readers just may find themselves looking at the adults in their life with appreciation and gratitude.
Author Info: The first in a trilogy.
Booktalk Ideas: In a world without adults; what would you do first?
Selection: I love this concept. It’s dystopian with a twist. It’s not that you can’t truth the adults (the usual), but that there are no adults.

The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale

ISBN: 158234843X
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: Betrayed by her most loyal friends, a princess is left un-named, unguarded and alone. When the chance comes to reclaim her throne, will she have the courage and the strength to do so?
Summary: This retelling of a classic Grimm’s fairytale does it justice. Ani’s tale starts with her being unknowingly sent as a betrothed princess to a distant land in order to ensure peace. When she is deceived by her guard and unseated from her throne, she must rely on her wits, and new friends, in order to survive as a Goose Girl in a new land. Ani’s struggle in regain her place in the world, and her title, are the plot of this fast read. However, the story is really propelled forward by the lovely language that Hale uses to tell Ani’s story, and the stories of her rag-a muffin band of Forest Folk. An enchanting tale full of courage, strength and perseverance in the face of true danger.
Evaluation: What a lovely book. Hale has a real gift for language and Ani’s tale of deception and strength is a page turner.
Author Info: Hale’s first book in the Bayern series, four total
Booktalk Ideas: This could very easily be used in a “re-told fairytale” talk or display.
Challenges: Clean read. Perfect for tweens just getting into light fantasy.
Selection: This is the first book in the Bayern series by Shannon Hale, my chosen author for the Author Study assignment.

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

ISBN: 978-0060530921
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 14+
Reader’s Annotation: While his parents are brutally murdered by a man named Jack, eighteen-month-old Bod quietly toddles away into the graveyard, escaping death. As the years pass Bod learns more about his graveyard family, the man named Jack and himself as he explores the cemetery and the world outside.
Summary: As a toddler Bod deftly escapes Jack, the man that killed his parents and his sister. Hidden by the ghostly inhabitants of his local cemetary Bod escapes death that night. Raised by the graveyard community Bod learns how to Haunt, Fade and commune with everyone in his home. But, he's unable to leave the graveyard though he yearns to be among those who breathe. Years later, Bod is slowly given keys to finding Jack, and with the help of his guardian Silas and his graveyard family, Bod conquers that which would conquer him.
Evaluation: While this is a very well written, and quite imaginative novel, I don't know that I would assign it (or award it) to children. The story seems nostalgic and reverential to childhood. I don't know that even older tweens would get it. This is the second time I've read this book and I'm still on the fence about it.
Author Info: Acclaimed and popular author Gaiman’s second foray into the children’s world. The first, Coraline, has spawned a popular movie and graphic novel. The Graveyard Book won the Newbery in 2009.
Booktalk Ideas: Fiction? Fantasy?
Challenges: Any challenges are most likely to due with a book about death (and in a graveyard) winning a Newbery. Violence in the title is not horrific or scary.
Selection: Assigned reading.

The Hourglass Door - Lisa Mangum

ISBN: 978-1606410936
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Abby cannot help but be attracted to Dante, the mysterious new transfer student from Italy. And when things start to get odd, Dante is the only one who can calm Abby, and make the world stop rushing around her.
Wow. Hourglass Door tells the story of Dante and Abby. Dante is an injustly punished criminal from 1500 Italy. He is sent in da Vinci’s time machine into the future as punishment for his crime. There he meets Abby who believes his outrageous story. Dante explains that he is torn: for the time he spend in the present he must also spend time on “the bank,” where he can “catch up” the time lost to him that he spends with Abby. Enter Zero Time, fellow travelers, who don’t live by Dante’s rules: instead they feed off their excess time on the innocents around them. When Zero Time discover a way to travel back into Time, and forward as they like, Dante must choose whether or not to pursue them, and Abby must choose to let him go.
Evaluation: Forget all the other titles; this is the new twilight. Dante and Abby’s story is engrossing and emotional and readers can’t help but be caught up in it. Secondary characters are fully fleshed out, and for once, the original boyfriend doesn’t get totally shafted when the new boy comes to town. An original and fun title, tweens and teens will flock to this title.
Author Info: First time author
Booktalk Ideas: How far would you go to save the one you love? How far in time?
Selection: Recommended by a friend, this title blew me away.
Challenges: none

Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

ISBN: 978-0439023481
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Once every year each town must choose two tributes to send to the Hunger Games where they will fight until only one remains.
Summary: In a nod to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery Collins creates a world where teens must kill each other in order to survive. Katniss has spent her life offering up her name for the banquet in order to protect her younger sister from being a participant in the Hunger Games. Yet, when her sister’s name is called, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Accompanied by one other teen from her village, Peeta, Katniss is pitted against other teen competitors in a gladiator like game where only one teen can survive. Using her intelligence, wiles and strength Katniss must finish the Hunger Games without destroying the growing trust between her and Peeta.
Evaluation: The first in a planned trilogy, this novel packs a punch and will keep you on the edge of your seat as Katniss must choose to kill both friend and foe in order to survive. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
Author Info: Author of the Gregor series of books for the younger set.
Booktalk Ideas: The idea of tributes: would you volunteer? Would you last? Could you kill a neighbor?
Challenges: Violence.
Selection: Great title, got the book at ALA and quickly joined the hype.

Immortal - Gillian Shields

ISBN: 978-0061375804
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Evie Johnson must harness her new powers in order to defeat an ancient coven set on destroying her and her mysterious lover.
Summary: When her father must return to his military post, and her grandmother suffers a stroke Evie Johnson is forced to attend Wyldcliffe, the boarding school where all the women in her family went. Arriving at Wyldcliffe, Evie is accosted Jane Eyre style by a boy named Sebastian. In her first few weeks Evie starts to see ghosts, hear a girl talking to her and is drawn into a mysterious relationship with Sebastian; who refuses to meet her during the day or reveal anything of his past. Evie is drawn into the history of Wyldcliffe, where she learns that she is decendant of Lady Agnes – ancient love of Sebastian who has sold his soul to Dark Forces to achieve immortality as the cost of Agnes’ life. It is Evie who must harness the elemental forces first awakened by Agnes and Sebastian in order to defeat the dark forces that now rule over Wyldcliffe.
Evaluation: A great break from the vampire genre, this title walks a thin line between suspension of disbelief and all out silliness. That being said, tweens will be propelled forward in the story through the underlying mystery of Agnes and her journal entries.
Booktalk Ideas: Would you die for your boyfriend?
Selection: I loved the cover. I wish I loved the book.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey

ISBN: 9780152063849
Publisher: Harcourt
Genre: Horror
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Everything is going great for Jessica until Lucius shows up with a ridiculous story about her being a vampire princess and his betrothed. Jessica doesn’t really think much of it, until her parents tell it’s the truth.
Summary: Jessica is your average seventeen-year-old. She hangs out with her best friend Mindy, gazes adoringly at Jake and looks forward to her senior year of high school. Everything changes when Lucius Vladescu arrives at school, a foreign exchange student from Romania, with a past that Jessica does not want to face. Lucius (and her parents) reveal that she is actually the daughter of vampire royalty from Romania, that she has been betrothed to Lucius since birth, and that their marriage will secure a lasting peace between their warring families. Jessica, a practical girl, has a difficult time accepting these revelations as truth until she becomes jealous of another girl chasing Lucius.
Evaluation: This is a refreshingly light offering in the vampire genre without all the angst that sometimes accompanies these titles. For readers awaiting the next big thing, this title will serve as fun fodder until New Moon hits theaters.
Booktalk Ideas: What if your life were not your own? Forgetting the vampire bit, what would you do if you were betrothed?
Challenges: Vampires
Selection: Trying to get a wide range of vampire titles.

Love is Hell - multiple authors

ISBN: 9780061443046
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Short Stories
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: Short stories by popular authors about teenage love.
Summary: Short stories about love in the lives of teenagers written by Mass, Westerfeld, Larbalestier, Zevin and Stolarz. Marr’s story features Selchies and is reminiscent of City of Bones series. Same flavor for attraction. Westerfeld features characters that seemingly live in Anderson’s world of Feed.
Evaluation: Some stories are better than others; as is common in short story collections. However, the combined effort is worthwhile, and Westerfeld’s story alone is enough to merit purchase.
Author Info: Includes Mass, Westerfeld, Larbalestier, Zevin and Stolarz.
Selection: I love short story collections, and I’ll read anything written by Marr or Zevin.

My Most Excellent Year - Steve Kluger

ISBN: 978-0803732278
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Do you think your life is confusing? Meet Augie, who loves his best friend T.C. like a brother, obsesses over the perfect Alejandra and has to somehow manage to get a deaf kid to come out of his shell by meeting Mary Poppins.
Summary: Told in three alternating voices, comically likable T.C., theatrical Augie and classic overachiever Alejandra, this tale about growing up in Boston packs a punch from the first page. T.C. and Augie, brought up more like brothers than friends, share their lives with their strange mixture of family: T.C.’s dad and Augie’s parents. Enter Alejandra, the first girl whom T.C. actually wants to impress, and who is totally unimpressed with him. Throughout their junior year, all three characters find themselves growing beyond what is expected of them. For T.C. that means taking up the care of a deaf foster child with a desperate belief in Mary Poppins. Alejandra realizes her potential on the stage, and away from her parent’s political beliefs. And Augie realizes that he is gay.
Evaluation: Though obviously different than the Traveling Pants series by Brashares this novel shares the same hope and joy of that quartet. Readers follow the plots twists and turns with attention to the characters that they have grown to love. On a side note, it is truly refreshing to see a male gay character and his best friend depicted without any undertones that detract from the relationship.
Booktalk Ideas: How far would you be willing to go for your friends?
Challenges: homosexual character
Selection: I admit I was drawn in by the cover. Clean, clever and unique – the cover attracts readers.

Need - Carrie Jones

ISBN: 9781599903385
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 11+
Reader’s Annotation: Zara is still reeling from the death of her father when she moves in with her grandmother in Maine. When she begins being followed by a mysterious man who leaves gold dust in his wake she must turn to her new friends and family to figure out the truth about her past.
Summary: The Urban Fantasy genre expands with this new title. 17 year-old Zara White moves in with her grandmother in rural Maine after effectively shutting down after her father’s death. Bothered by the extreme cold and still traumatized Zara is amazed to find herself drawn to Nick Colt, the boy who almost hit her on the way to school her first day. Soon, she finds herself friends with Issie and Delyn and attracted to both Nick and Ian, another school hottie. Zara finds herself haunted by a mysterious man who has followed her from home, who points at her from distances, and leaves gold dust wherever he has been. Mix this with missing boys, an undercurrent of tension and rumors of Pixie Lords and you have this romantic fantasy that is strongly reminiscent of Twilight.
Evaluation: Readers will certainly notice the similarities to Twilight; but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The novel moves at a fast pace, but readers may figure out the twist long before the characters do.
Booktalk Ideas: Who’s better: Edward or Nick?
Selection: Great cover and talk of a fairy lord? I’m there. Also toted at the new Twilight.

North of Beauttiful - Justina Chen Headley

ISBN: 978-0316025058
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Terra is forever marked by her port wine stain birth mark and laughed at by her domineering father. When she meets a boy who is also marked, he challenges her to find her own way in the world.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Terra has a plan. Graduate high school (a year early), somehow pay for art school on the East Coast and get as far away from her dominating and cruel father as she can. Terra is marked by a port wine stain that covers one half of her face; a crusade for her weak mother and a point of ridicule for her father. After another unsuccessful attempt to remove the birthmark, Terra and her mother meet Jacob, an adopted Chinese goth boy and his mother. The four hit it off immediately, setting off a catalyst of changes that affect each person individually.
Evaluation: Throughout the novel Terra questions her place in the world through metaphors of map making, and she ventures to explore herself as she would an unknown world. Jacob is given the role of compass – always guiding her in the right direction and allowing her to make her own choices. A great book for teens looking for a plot like Sarah Dessen with the lyrical writing style of Markus Zusak.
Selection: This book was an accident, I picked it up thinking it was another title. What a great mistake. Possibly the best book I’ve read in 2009.

The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

ISBN: 9780380978489
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 10+
Reader’s Annotation: Mia likes her life just fine thank you very much. She certainly does not need her father showing up, telling her she is the Crown Princess of Genovia and messing with her whole life!
Summary: Mia Thermopolis is a normal 14 year old girl who spends too much time with her best friend Lilly obsessing over her crush Josh Richter. She lives with her mom in a flat in New York and regularly visits her divorced dad in Genovia every summer. All this changes when her dad reveals that he is more than a politician in Genovia, he is their crown prince – and upon learning that he can no longer sire children, that leaves Mia as the new reigning Princess of Genovia. Add to this scenario reporters, publicity, and a slew of wanna-be friends and Mia is at a loss of what to do with this new information. Thankfully, her parents are understanding, and while it takes Lilly time to come around to the idea Mia does receive full support from the people in her life. Along the way she also manages to snag the perfect boyfriend, not the guy she thought, and meet new friends.
Evaluation: This is a fast and fun read that many will enjoy. Given its popularity as a movie, many teens will find themselves comparing the book to the film and enjoying the many differences and similarities.
Author Info: The first in the huge Princess Diaries franchise
Booktalk Ideas: What problems would you have if you suddenly learned you were a princess?
Selection: I finally got around to reading it!

Rapunzel’s Revenge – Shannon Hale, ill. Nathan Hale

ISBN: 9781599900704
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Graphic Novel
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: What’s the true story of Rapunzel? Keep reading and find out.
Summary: Meet Rapunzel, an anger teenager after finding out that she was stolen from her parents as a young child. And to make it worse, raised as the daughter of the woman who stole her! Rapunzel sets out to free herself from her forest like cave, free her real mother from the clutches of her witchy mother, and set the world at right while she’s at it. This is rip roaring fun that keeps readers guessing. The illustrations are spot on, and just detailed enough to add to the text. When the text is lighter, the illustrations provide much needed comedic interludes and asides.
Evaluation: What a fun graphic novel! I love the western twist of imagining Rapunzel as a hair slinger, instead of a medieval princess. Jack is spot on, as a “aw-shucks” kind of guy. And how refreshing to see a male sidekick and a woman who can truly take care of herself.
Author Info: Written by award winning author Shannon Hale and her husband.
Illustrator: Nathan Hale has written and illustrated several other titles.
Booktalk Ideas: retelling fairy tales. Recasting male/female roles
Challenges: None.
Selection: Since my author study was Shannon Hale I wanted to have read all of her works.

Rules – Cynthia Lord

ISBN: 0545092078
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: All Catherine wants is a normal life; but that’s hard to come by with a little brother who is autistic.
Summary: Catherine is a pretty normal 12 year old. She yearns for a best friend next door and spends her spare time drawing and painting. But her little brother David is not normal; he’s autistic. In order to help David Catherine makes him rules: “no toys in the fish tank,” and “keep your pants on in public.” Accompanying David on his weekly therapy sessions Catherine meets Jason, a teen who is in a wheelchair and uses communication cards to speak. As her friendship with Jason grows Catherine is forced to define for herself what is “normal” and to come to terms with the many differences each of us have to offer.
Evaluation: This is a great read. Catherine is totally believable in her goals to be both a normal friend and a helpful sister. Her frustrations while dealing with David, and feeling slighted by her family, will ring true for those with differently abled siblings. Jason gives a voice to non vocal teens everywhere, insisting that those in a wheelchair are not different after all.
Author Info: Rules is the author’s first novel. It is a Newbery Honor Book
Booktalk Ideas: What rules might you make up for an autistic sibling? What words are essential to your everyday life?
Challenges: none
Selection: The title alone on this book has always captivated me.

The Runaways: Pride and Joy – Brian K. Vaughn. Ill. Adrian Aphona

ISBN: 0785113797
Publisher: Marvel
Genre: Graphic Novel
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: When 6 teens realize that their parents are actually evil super villains, life as they knew it ends. Now they must use their new found powers and alliances in order to stop their parents before they commit another crime.
Summary: Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico hate having to get together once a year when their parents discuss their yearly charitable contributions to society. This year, when the parents have their meeting, the teens decide to sneak in and see what’s so important. Unfortunately, the secret meeting they stumble upon reveals the truth that their parents are all evil super humans.
Evaluation: What a fantastic idea! This is the first graphic novel I’ve read that I’m wanted to continue to read. The premise is oh-so-delicious, the writing is concise and believable and the art is easy to follow. This is the first in a series of 6 that will definitely keep followers interested and reading.
Author Info: Brian Vaughn is also the author of Pride of Baghdad.
Booktalk Ideas: Superheros v. super villains – who would win? What power would you want most? Kids v. parents
Challenges: violence, disobedience, murder
Selection: This series consistently gets recognized on graphic novel list serves and “must-buy” lists. This was the perfect opportunity to read volume one.

Shiver – Maggie Shiefvater

ISBN: 978-0545123266
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 11+
Reader’s Annotation: Even since Grace was attacked as a child, she has watched the wolves from her window. Especially the one with the yellow eyes. When the wolf becomes human; and Grace learns the truth about Sam their future is challenged by the nature of life.
Summary: This is a classic boy meets girl story, the only problem is the boy is a wolf. Sam only gets so many years as a human. Each summer he changes to his human form, and when the weather slowly gets colder, he turns back to the wolf. As the years go by he will spend less time as a human, until finally he will remain wolf forever. When he finally meets Grace, the girl he has watched from the woods for years, he is ecstatic to know her name and reveal himself as human. Forces conspire to keep them apart: a she-wolf resents Grace, and mysterious killing are leaving recently dead teens as newly turned werewolves. It’s up to Grace and Sam to find who’s responsible while trying to keep the cold from turning Sam back into a wolf.
Evaluation: This will definitely appeal to those tweens looking for something along the lines of Twilight. The chemistry between Grace and Sam is palpable and readers will long for a happy resolution between the two. Meanwhile, the history and existence of Sam’s pack keep the action hungry readers satisfied. An entertaining read for lovers of Bella and Edward.
Author Info: The author of Lament and Ballad – two companion books in a series about faeries.
Booktalk Ideas: Like Twilight? Try this.
Challenges: Very clean.
Selection: I’m a Twi-hard. This was getting so much hype, so I bit (so to say).

Shug – Jenny Han

ISBN: 9781416909422
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: AnneMarie, or Shug as her mother calls her, is torn. She is really excited about starting middle school and getting new school supplies. At the same time, she knows that life is going to change. Then one day she starts liking her best friend, her Daddy stops coming home, and a boy she hated stands up for her.
Summary: Shug is a wonderfully likeable girl next door character. She strives to be beautiful like her sister Celia, special like her momma, and really “seen” by her best friend next door. When middle school starts everything starts to slowly unravel. The boy next door kisses someone else and her best friend accuses her of being selfish. Life for Shug has become complicated and gets worse when she opens her eyes to her momma’s drinking. Pushed to the brink when a dance goes bad, Shug is forced to accept her life as it.
Evaluation: Shug is a great character and this book is a real winner. Growing up is tough, and Shug’s story hits all the right notes. Her voice is authentic and the trials she faces are real. Her struggle to stay true to herself while her world changes rapidly is admirable and readers will understand where she is coming from. This would be great paired with Ida B by Hannigan.
Author Info: A quirk – the author’s name is pronounced by Han Solo.
Booktalk Ideas: Middle school – what’s scary, what’s not
Challenges: Frank discussion of menstruation.
Selection: I love the cover. I’ve been meaning to read this one for years.

Something, Maybe – Elizabeth Scott

ISBN: 978-1416978657
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Hannah is certain that Josh is the perfect guy for her; he’s sweet, considerate and always has something intelligent to say. But why is she always thinking about Finn?
Summary: Taking a break from the gut wrenching novel that was Living Dead Girl, Scott embarks on familiar territory with her latest offering. Hannah is the daughter of a Hugh Hefner type older man who ignores her existence and a loving mother who makes money via webchats and her former fame. Meanwhile, Hannah just tries to fly under the radar, which doesn’t help her get noticed by her current crush, the philosophical Josh. Finn (her BurgerTown co-worker) on the other hand, is annoying, ingratiating and just so-not Josh.
Evaluation: It doesn’t take much to know that Hannah will end up with Finn, and not Josh, but the journey is fun. Characters are three dimensional and readers will find themselves sympathizing with Hannah throughout the novel. A light, fast and fun read that would be great for summer break and the beach.
Booktalk Ideas: Create the daughter of Hugh Hefner and Anna Nicole Smith – what is she like?
Selection: Really enjoy her work; trying to read it all.

Thwonk - Joan Bauer

ISBN: 978-0142404294
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 11+
Reader’s Annotation: A.J. knows that Peter is perfect for her, the same way she knows that she will become a photographer. When a cupid shows up and grants her one wish – Peter becomes her undying love much to A.J’s chagrin.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old A.J is certain that her life will be perfect if only she can get her heartthrob, the perfect Peter Terris, to notice her and take her to the upcoming King of Hearts dance. Despite her level headed approach to her photography, her parents and school, love totally escapes her and always eclipses her better judgement. When a cupid named Jonathan magically appears and offers her the choice of three options: better academics, better art or a better love life, A.J. leaps at the chance to get Peter “thwonked” by Jonathon’s mythological arrow.
Evaluation: This is a fun read, especially around Valentine’s Day – which features so predominantly in the storyline. However, those readers looking for something hilarious, or something deeper than A.J.’s incessant need for love will need to look elsewhere. A,J,’s photography is her saving grace, unfortunately, Bauer doesn’t give us much to grasp onto and we finish the novel unsure of how it’s changed us at all.
Author Info: Bauer has written a number of tween/YA titles
Booktalk Ideas: If you could have three wishes, what would they be? Why? What if they wishes went wrong?
Selection: New to Bauer, I picked the one with the seeming youngest audience.

The Truth about Truman School – Dori Hillestad Butler

ISBN: 9780807580950
Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 10+
Reader’s Annotation: Zebby is tired of not being able to tell the “real” truth at her middle school newspaper. So, she and her friend Amr start a website where anyone can post, and tell the real truth as they see it.
Summary: Zebby is so tired of her middle school newspaper sponsor: they can’t write about anything controversial, or even interesting. Everything has to be rah rah and go football team. Zebby comes up with starting a website, the truth about Truman, where all the middle schoolers can go, and interact. It will be just like a real newspaper with articles and editorials, and best of all, anyone can post their opinion. A great idea turns bad when someone takes it upon themselves to use the site as their personal bullying ground for a fellow student.
Evaluation: This is an exceptionally strong book, that would be perfect to use in a teaching setting. The story is told in alternating perspectives, and the reader gains insight into how each character responds to the situation. While the author deals with a topic that could become didactic quickly, she manages to keep her characters true to life, and their conversations realistic. Perfect for a parent wanting to broach this topic, or a school wanting a “school wide read,” this book can’t be read without making an impact.
Author Info:
Booktalk Ideas: Cyber-bullying, cyber predators, racism
Challenges: All of the above.
Selection: I read about this one in a review a while back. I thought it was a really interesting topic. I was really impressed that the author took the perspective of multiple characters. I’m not sure it would have worked as well in another point of view.

Twenty Boy Summer – Sarah Ockler

ISBN: 9780316051590
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Anna gets her birthday wish when her best friend Matt finally kisses her. Everything changes when Matt is killed by an unknown heart defect and Anna is left to mourn alone, and comfort her other best friend Frankie, Matt’s little sister.
Summary: Anna has two best friends; Frankie, and Frankie’s older brother Matt. At her fifteenth birthday party Anna’s wish comes true when Matt secretly kisses her. Worried about his Frankie’s reaction, Matt asks Anna to keep quiet about their relationship until he can tell her on their annual trip to the California beach. But when Matt dies, Anna is left with the weight of their secret and Frankie, who is careening through her grief. Twenty Boy Summer is more than a novel about loss and friendship. It is about the journey that one girl must take during a summer of growing up. “Nothing ever really goes away – it just changes into something else.”
Evaluation: This novel was a surprise. The story is much deeper than the cover indicates, and Anna is truly a character you feel for. Anna’s relationship with Frankie makes up the bulk of the novel; but the real story if Anna growing to accept her love for Matt and accepting the worth of her lose as well.
Booktalk Ideas: Do you tell your best friend everything?
Challenges: Drinking and sex
Selection: I was looking for a light romance; I got more than I bargained for.

Uglies – Scott Westerfeld

ISBN: 978-0439806114
Publisher: Scholastic Trade
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Tally is certain once she turns 16 and becomes Pretty that her life will be absolutely perfect. When she meets Shay, who challenges all that pretty means Tally must choose to become a Pretty and realize all her dreams or face up to what being Pretty really means.
Summary: Tally can’t wait to turn 16 and get Pretty. Once she’s pretty she’ll be able to attend all the hottest parties, have the best friends and gorgeous boyfriends. Shay, on the other hand, has other thoughts. What’s wrong with slightly crooked eyes and imperfect skin? Does everyone really have to look exactly the same? The only escape is to run away into the Wild and survive as an Ugly forever. When Shay runs away and Tally follows, she learns the truth about what it means to be a Pretty. Unknowingly tracked, Tally is forced to decide to turn Shay in and become a Pretty, or remain silent and stay Ugly.
Evaluation: The first in a series of 4 books, Uglies creates a world where beauty is challenged for the cost it exacts. This series will quickly become the classic canon in YA literature. A great title that challenges the way you think.
Author Info: Acclaimed author.
Booktalk Ideas: Would you have plastic surgery if you could? Even if you lost something of yourself?
Selection: I always love to re-read Uglies. It gets better each time.

Wake – Lisa McMann

ISBN: 978-1416953579
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Paranormal
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Ever since she was a little girl Janie has suffered from being pulled into other people’s dreams and nightmares. She’s never understood her talent, but she’s controlled it until she meets Cabel, who has the most horrifying nightmare she’s ever lived through.
Summary: Janie lives a double life. She goes to school, goes home and works at a convalescent hospital to make money for college. She also is afflicted with the ability to see what other people are dreaming. This is not a static talent; instead Janie is forced headlong into whatever dream others may be having when she is nearby making childhood sleepovers impossible and high school overnight trips incredibly dangerous; not to mention idle teens who fall asleep in study hall. Janie has never revealed her ability to anyone until she meets a Cabel; a fellow high school student with increasingly disturbing dreams.
Evaluation: This is a fantastic novel where paranormal meets romance in perfect harmony. The first of a proposed trilogy, Janie’s story will keep readers interested and eager for the next installment.
Author Info: Sequel is Fade. Third book in the works.
Booktalk Ideas: What if your dreams came true? What if your dreams were nightmares?
Selection: Highly recommended by friend and co-worker.

Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr

ISBN: 978-0061214653
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Don’t look at the faeries, don’t attract the faeries and certainly, don’t let them know you see them. Aislinn does fine living by this strict set of rules until the Summer King starts courting her to be his Queen.
Summary: Aislinn lives by a set of very strict rules; don’t talk to the faeries, don’t attract their attention and don’t stare. Yet, when she starts being followed by two fairies, court faeries at that, Aislinn has to reevaluate the rules, and why she lives by them. With the mortal and faery worlds hanging in the balance, Aislinn must decide whether to risk her mortality and her best friend Seth, in order to save the worlds she is a part of.
Evaluation: Cast with irresistible characters, faery intrigue, and unrequited and lasting love this is a fantasy world readers will be reluctant to leave.
Author Info: Series followed with Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity and untitled fourth novel.
Booktalk Ideas: Do you believe in faeries? Would you tell someone if you saw them?
Selection: Any excuse to re-read Wicked Lovely is much welcomed.