Fall 2012 Sneak Peeks Part Two: Middle Grade and YA
Welcome back for Part Two of our Fall 2012 Sneaks Peeks, today we’re all about Middle Grade and Young Adult titles. If you missed Part One, with our Picture Book reviews you can find it here.
Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
If you love fun and spooky and heart-pounding suspense than you’ll LOVE Behind the Bookcase from newcomer, Mark Steensland. When twelve-year-old Sarah’s eccentric grandmother passes away and the family goes to clean-up her home, Sarah discovers a secret passage way that leads her down a path that crosses between multiple worlds! You’ll think Alice in Wonderland meets The Shadows (Bk. I, The Books of Elsewhere) as you continue alongside this curious heroine, as she plunges into a fantastic world ruled by a ruthless cat and ends up having to save her family, her friends, and her world from what he seeks. It’s a fun adventure-read perfect for both girl and boy readers (Sarah’s brother and new friend Jeb accompany her through much of the book) that bursts with imagination. Cool line drawings accompany every chapter or so, and adds to the already visual world that Steensland has created for us. I couldn’t put this down and think it’s the perfect title to hand off to a thrill junkie, especially during Halloween-time! –Bobbie
Yesterday by C. K. Kelly Martin
The attention to detail that C.K. Kelly Martin put into her latest book Yesterday is remarkable. I was completely sucked into the story of Freya, a teenager in 1985, newly living in Canada after moving from New Zealand, where he father has been killed in a freak accident. Freya wakes up one morning not feeling that her life is quite her life, her family not really her family—and shrugs it off until, by chance, her “recognition” of a complete stranger on the street (a handsome boy only slightly her senior, who makes her heart skip a beat) makes her question whether he is in fact a stranger to her at all or the key to the weird out of body feelings she’s been experiencing. What ensues is a high-impact adventure/thriller ala’ The Maze Runner and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone that nods to time-travel, virtual reality, espionage, and of course, the trials of the modern teenager. I loved reading this! –Bobbie
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
In a futuristic New York City, the “haves” live high up in giant skyscrapers, while the “have-nots” live on the ground among ruined buildings and defunct subways. The ground dwellers also happen to be mystics, humans who revealed their special powers to the mainstream only to have them harnessed to keep the city running. Registered mystics are regularly drained of their energy to provide power to the city and keep them docile. The perfect set-up for a rebellion and star-crossed lovers? You bet. This Romeo and Juliet meets X-men story does a great job balancing romance with science fiction and should appeal to fans of both. –Deanna
Fitz by Mick Cochrane
Fitz has many of the same winning qualities found in the author’s award-winning middle grade novel The Girl Who Threw Butterflies –well-drawn characters, even-paced story and realistic dialogue. Like the earlier book, Fitz deals with abandonment: The Girl Who Threw Butterflies was a father-daughter story, though the dad had died but was a central figure in the story; Fitz’s dad is alive and well, but abandoned him and his mom shortly after he was born.
This new novel all takes place one day in St. Paul MN, childhood home of Fitz’s namesake F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitz, who is 15 years old and lives with his mom in the less desirable part of town, learns that his dad, a wealthy attorney, lives and works in town. Fitz is an angry kid, protective of his mom, and is single-mindedly determined to confront his dad (Curtis) in a potentially violent way. Fitz essentially hijacks his dad, luring him away from his office, after which they spend the day mostly in the car talking, venting and trying to make up for some of those lost 15 years.
The story has some tension-filled moments but it’s not a thriller; rather, it’s a slice-of-life tale about a boy trying to “connect” with the dad he never knew and somehow make whole the family he never had. The author subtly weaves in Gatsbyesque themes throughout the story, for example, the fated relationship of Fitz’s parents and self-invention (Dad). Without giving away too much away, I finished the book hopeful about the potential for reconciliation even in otherwise unforgiving circumstances.
Fitz is for a slighter older reader this time around – 12 & up. Book clubs and other discussion groups will find much food for thought as will many readers who gravitate to realistic fiction. –Tim
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
First I read this fun, snarky paranormal book, then I attended an event at Oblong Books & Music and met the wonderful, funny, snarky and talented author Sarah Rees Brennan. I was as impressed with the writer as I was with her writing and I can hardly wait for the next book in “The Lynburn Legacy”. Our main character Kami has a perfectly ordered world in her small English village of Sorry-in-the-Vale, she’s starting a new school newspaper venture with her BFF and life is good. Until the Lynburns move back to Sorry-in-the-Vale after many years abroad. Kami begins to see and hear things she never expected, and then there are the oh, so hot Lynburn cousins now attending her school. Throughout all this Kami maintains a wicked sense of humor and never gives up her search for the truth, even when it gets extremely uncomfortable and kind of scary. Unspoken will leave you wanting more too. –Kate
All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin
Alex and Thea are gorgeous, rich and popular. But that’s where the similarities end. Alex, the older, “perfect” sister, is hiding a secret and unraveling rapidly, while sexy, spoiled Thea, sensing blood in the water, decides to make her move into Alex’s group of friends and even her relationship. Told in alternating chapters by the two sisters, this is a fast-paced thriller set in a world of wealth and privilege. How far would you go to have everything you’ve ever wanted? And once you start a dangerous chain of events, when is it too late to stop them? Teens and adults will stay up late into the night reading this twisted, literate new novel. –Erin
Crusher by Naill Leonard
Finn Maguire hasn’t had an easy life. His mother walked out on the family a few years ago, his father seems to be chronically unemployed hoping for that next big break (he’s a former actor), and he’s dropped out of school and is working at a job he loathes. Then Finn gets fired, and when he arrives home he finds his father has been murdered. It gets even worse when an overzealous police detective is convinced Finn is the only suspect in the murder. What’s a lad to do but try and solve the murder himself. Could the murderer be local gangsters who his father was eavesdropping on in a bar for research on a screenplay, the blond German stranger in the bar, a former acting rival? So many possibilities, and a lot of blind alleys test Finn at every turn. This fast-paced thriller, sufficiently filled with twists and turns will keep you reading to the surprising and explosive conclusion. –Kate
We hope you’ve found a few more titles to add to your “to be read” pile for this Fall, thanks for joining us at Random Acts of Reading today.
Please share your thoughts in our comments section.