Oggie Cooder by Sarah Weeks

Oggie Cooder doesn’t mind being different.  He does wish he had more friends, but the people in town just can’t accept his weird clothes and odd habits.  When he accidentally auditions for Hidden Talents and is chosen to appear on TV everyone in town starts to notice him.  It starts out as a blessing.  Oggie loves to Charve (Chew and carve- a word he created himself) cheese into sculptures of the states.  However, when Donnica becomes his manager, she wants to be famous at all cost.  Will Oggie make it all the way to Hollywood?  Make sure to check out Sarah Weeks’ novel to find out!

Hunted By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

In this installment of the House of Night Series, Zoey has just escaped Kalona and the Raven Mockers.  She and her friends are hiding in the tunnels with the Red Fledglings.  Neferet has become evil and is a powerful enemy.  Zoey and Eric seemed to be making up just as Heath arrives again!  And when Zoey is seriously injured she must drink from Heath and their Imprint is reestablished.  Not to mention, Kalona has been stalking Zoey in her dreams and wants her to be his A-ya.  That is three guys after Zoey so far and there is still a fourth she encounters that she begins to fall for!  I enjoyed the fast pace of this novel.

By the time I reached the end, I half hoped that things would be resolved but I also didn’t want the story to end.  Will Zoey remain with Eric?  What about her Imprint with Heath?  Can she save Stark?  Defeat Kalona?

39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

This is a great book for upper elementary students through middle schoolers.  I won this book in a raffle and I quickly finished the book.  It reminded me a lot of the movie National Treasure.  It is basically a treasure hunt book.  The main characters Amy and Dan Cahill are left the first clue by the grandmother.  Unfortunately, she left the same clue to many other relatives, so the race is on to see who can figure it out first.  The race leads to many historic places, with enemies ready to trap them at every turn.  Book one ends with clue #1 solved, but does this mean we have to read 38 more books to find out what the mystery treasure is?  I liked the book well enough, but I’m not sure I want to commit to reading 39 books.  Something that was cool is that each book comes with clue cards to help you decipher the big mystery.  You can go online and log in to find out more about the characters.  There are also additional card packs to buy if you want more clues.  I think kids will enjoy the internet connection and the chance to win prizes.  I went ahead and put this in my elementary library to see how the kids react to it.

Marked by P.C. Cast

I really enjoyed this first novel in the House of Night Series by PC Cast.  I must admit right up front that this book is more “mature” material than Twilight.  The main character Zoey goes to a regular high school and has a normal life until a tracker approaches her in the school hall and marks her.  What this all means is that she has been marked as a fledgling vampire and must immediately start attending the House of Night (which is like a prep store for vampires.)  Zoey must leave behind her “kind of” ex boyfriend and her not so good home life.  Things start looking up for her as she gets settled in to the House of Night.  Her mentor is wonderful, her roommate is a reliable new friend and a cute guy seems interested in her.  The only problem is that she is marked to be different than all those around her.  Her mark is filled-in, while all the other fledglings only have an outline.  Also, she can feel all the elements: earth, wind, fire, water, spirt and this is very rare.  Because of this she attracts negative attention from the popular kids in school.  Book one ends with Zoey and Aphrodite going head to head to see who will control a secret society called the Dark Daughters.

I enjoyed this enough to go out today and snag book two Betrayed from Barnes and Noble.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Sophie and Josh are your ordinary twins, until one day a strange car pulls up outside of the shops they work at. Immediately they know something is wrong. The smell of rotten eggs fills the air as strange gray “men” get out of the car. These men go into to Nicholas Flemming’s store and Josh is stunned to see magic flowing from the fingers of Dr. Dee as he attacks Nicholas. It turns out, both Dee and Flemming (aka Flamel) are immortal. The twins come to the rescue of Flamel and he sweeps them off to safety, however Flamel’s wife Perenelle is not so lucky. Dee kidnaps her along with the most powerful book in the world…The Codex. Flamel quickly explains that he has been the guardian of the book and since the kids are too involved to go back to their ordinary lives, they must stay with him until things have settled down. Before long another motive is revealed. The Codex, prophesized that twins would save the world or destroy it. Flamel works as their guide and teacher and takes them to Awaken their magical powers. Dee keeps interfering and Flamel, the twins, and their friend Scatty must battle against all kinds of Elders, undead, and mythological animals. I enjoyed reading so many familiar names of gods and goddesses and mythological creatures. I was surprised by the author’s footnotes about just how much of the book is based on fact. Teens will enjoy reading about their favorite mythological characters such as vampires, werewolves, and the sphinx. In the end, the reader is left anxiously awaiting book two: The Magician

The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor

Any girl can relate to this funny well written book about love and heartache and starting over again. Jennifer Lewis has the perfect life, until her boyfriend dumps her without any warning. She is heart broken and depressed about losing the love of her life. Since she can’t think of a reason why Max left her, she starts to find fault in her self. That’s when Nana comes to the rescue. After hearing a talk radio program about a new self help book called The Breakup Bible, Nana buys it to help Jen get over Max. At first Jen finds the book ridiculous, but the more depressed she becomes the more she realizes maybe there is something good in this book. To distract herself from thinking about Max, she pours all her energy into an article she is writing about race relations at her high school. Her school sponsor is so impressed with her that he recommends her for an internship at The New York Times. Things start to look up for her when her father sets her up on a blind date. Gene is sweet and funny and Jen really hits it off with him…until he kisses her and all she can think about is Max. She begins to fear that she will never get over Max, when all of a sudden she realizes she never really knew him at all. After taking some heat over the controversial article she has written for the paper, Max approaches Jen and accuses her of retaliation for dumping her. Shocked, she can’t believe that he could ever think she would be so cruel. At that point, a switch turns off and Jen decides Max was never right for her after all. The novel ends, full of hope. Will Jennifer get the internship? What happens with Gene? Is Max out of her life for good? Readers will be joining “Team Jennifer,” and cheering her on right up until the last page.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The format of this book is incredibly appealing. At over 500 pages, it might be intimidating to a young reader until they pick it up and flip through the pages. Selznick’s book is a graphic novel told in pages of words alternating with pages of black and white drawings. It was a quick read, despite the length and I highly enjoyed reading it.

Hugo is an orphan. After his father died he has been hiding in a train station, maintaining the clocks in the building. The only thing he has left from his father is a broken automaton and the dream of repairing it. Hugo tries his best to fend for himself. He often has to steal food and parts for his repairs from a local toyshop. One day Hugo befriends the toyshop owner’s goddaughter at the movie theater. Later, he is caught stealing by Georges Melies, the shop owner. Georges takes Hugo’s sketch book as a penance for the theft. More than anything Hugo wants his sketch book back, so he begins to work for the shopkeeper to earn it back. Through the help of his new friend, Hugo is able to get his sketch book and repair the automaton. Once they turn on the automaton, it begins to draw a picture and write out a message.  Hugo can’t wait to see what it creates.  He is shocked to find at the bottom of the picture the automaton has signed Georges Melies’ name.  A mystery is to be uncovered.  What role did Georges play in the creation of the automaton?  Why did it draw a scene from Hugo’s father’s favorite movie?  The fast paced ending had me glued to my seat, eager to find out what would become of Hugo Cabret.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

This book has everything you could want in a novel: sex, love, death, practical jokes, and deeper meaning.  Miles Halter has just started attending a private school named Culver Creek.  Back home he was kind of a loner.  By the ninth grade he still didn’t have many friends.  In fact his going away party consisted of his mother, father and a couple from school Miles hardly knew.  But Miles wants to do great things in life, which is why he decides he must leave his small hometown to attend private school.  Miles is in search of the Great Perhaps.  He longs to know what might be out there for him.  In this touching novel, Miles finds out what it means to have true friends.  His first day at school he meets his roomate, the  “Colonel”.  The “Colonel” tells Miles that if they become friends Miles has no shot at being “cool” at the Creek.  Miles takes up the Colonel on his offer of friendship and the two pretty much become inseparable.  Miles does a lot of growing up during his junior year at this boarding school.  Most importantly he meets Alaska, the girl he never knew he had always been looking for.  He is instantly intrigued by her.  She is beautiful yet moody and unpredictable.  Miles likes her immediately but she has a boyfriend and sees Miles more as a brother to her.  Miles struggles with deciding whether to just give up on Alaska or to hold out for her in hopes she will return his interests.  This story reminded me of an updated version of The Chocolate War.  Also a book about boarding school and conflicts among the social classes.  Miles, Alaska, the Colonel, Tukumi and Lara work together to pull off pranks against the rich “Weekday Warriors” (the students who are rich enough to commute to school and home each week.)  Just as Miles and Alaska begin to get close to becoming something more (in a drunken state they make out), Alaska rushes off campus in the middle of the night saying she was sorry she forgot.  Without realizing how bad things might turn out Miles and the Colonel let her drive away even though she is drunk.  When they find out the next day that she was in a fatal car accident, both boys blame themselves for not stopping her.  The begin to search for deeper meaning to Alaska’s life and death.  And in doing so each learns important lessons about themselves.  The question both the reader and the main character are left pondering is: How will you- you personally- ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?  Is there really a more profound question ourselves?

If I could rate this book on a scale of 1-10 I would easily give it a 15.  Not everyday does a book truly make me think about the deeper meaning of life.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

When I saw the cover of this book I was intrigued. It is simple and understated yet attention grabbing at the same time. I had never read a book like this one before. I was a little unsure of whether I would like this book after reading the title. Despite my hesitation I really, REALLY liked this book. It was just such a gooooooood read. The main character Paul has known he was gay since his kindergarten teacher wrote it plainly on his report card: “Paul is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self.” Paul is just like everyone of us. Struggling to find his place in the world of high school. His ex-boyfriend broke his heart and spread mean rumors around about how Paul tricked him. Paul doesn’t know when he’ll find a good person to love. When he meets the new boy in town, there is instant chemistry. Noah seems to be everything Paul wants until out of the blue his ex-boyfriend suddenly takes an interest in him again. You know how it is when there is that one person that makes you want to drop everything you’re doing just to have a chance to be with them. Paul feels this way about his ex Kyle. He can’t believe Kyle is finally coming around. When he is with Kyle he feels like one person and when he is with Noah he feels like someone completely different. The problem is that it is all happening at the same time. Without thinking…Paul kisses Kyle and rumors start circulating all around the school. Suddenly, Paul realizes it is Noah he really wants. But is it too late? Noah has heard the rumors and wants some space from Paul. Paul decides to do everything it takes to convince Noah of his love. This is a romantic and laugh out loud book that will remind you of your own experiences.

Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

I must admit that when I started this novel, I didn’t think I would finish it.  I don’t know if I was distracted or in a bad mood.  It has a funny introduction, I honestly don’t know why I didn’t want to continue reading it. All I know is…I am glad I did.  Violet Paz has just turned fifteen.  When her Abuela comes to visit her, Violet learns that her family wants to hold a quincaenero (15th birth day bash!)  That sounds sort of fun to Violet except she hates to wear dresses and she hates dances.  Her grandmother talks Violet and her parents into planning the quince party.  Even though Violet is half Cuban she has to read The Quincaenero for the Gringo Dummy to find out what the party involves.  She decides to make it reflect her personality, so instead of dates for her court she has an all girl court.  She also changes the traditional pink dress to a stunning purple and white number.  While planning the party her family holds many bbqs and Violet starts to get to know her extended family better.  Everyone comes together to support her.  The more she learns about this Cuban tradition, the more she longs to know about Cuba.  Her father will not speak about Cuba after the Communist movement his family suffered under.  Violet is forced to take matters into her own hands to learn about her family history.  When her father finds out that she has gone behind his back to learn about Cuba he threatens to call off the quince party.  After all their hard work on the party…what will it take for Violet and her father end their feud?