Recent Reads

The following are CHS Library books that Ms SweetmanMcPeek recently read.
Recent Reads January 2008

Head Case by Sarah Aronson, September 2007, (to be added to CHS Library ASAP)
Frank Marder, lives every day and regret every day because he is paralyzed from the next down and he caused the accident. He regrets that he killed an old man and his girlfriend.

People post comments to www.quadkingonthenet and a lot of the comments are hateful. Some think he should go to jail, others wish he was dead instead of Meredith. An anonymous writer defends Frank. He hates himself and his life. He can't even help himself to a bit a lasagna the way he likes it.

This is a great read, quick and very realistic to what life is like when you suddenly become paralyzed.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen available at CHS Library
Jack sat among his veterinary colleagues preparing for the final exam when he learns that both his parent were killed in a fatal car accident, and his dream of being a veterinarian with his father will never happen. Dazed by the end of the future he planned, he begins aimlessly wandering which leads him to a traveling circus and a job as a circus vet. Life on the train and the values of the circus people teach Jack facts about life.

The story is set during the depression and the author's intense research of the time period makes this a fascinating read.

Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh 2007 (to be added to CHS Library ASAP)
Jack and his dad live at Yale University. He hasn't been to New York City since his mom died eight years ago. Jack's recent near-fatal accident leads his father to send to a New York specialist. While there Jack decides to tour Grand Central Station. He meets a girl who shows him the hidden levels of the station and the ghostly lives that dwell in New York City. This story is full of action and suspense as the strange girl guides Jack through New York.

Prom anonymous by Blake Nelson 2007 available at CHS Library
Laura hasn't actively participated in the trendy high school she attends. When her two closest life-long friends encourage to attend prom she decides to go, “getting Laura ready for prom” becomes their project. The tasks are numerous since Laura doesn't fix her hair, do nails, have a dress or a date. She goes because everyone says “you'll always remember your high school prom.” A couple of interesting twist kept me reading the adventure. Check it out from CHS Library

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name by Heather Lende 2005, available at Hastings Book Store.
A friend recommended that I read this book before I began my summer vacation to Alaska. Lende lives in the small town of Haines, Alaska. She write obituaries for the local newspaper. That sounds like a grim story, however, her tale describes the vivid richness of living in the wilderness, the close relationship of neighbors and the hardships of living in the wilderness. This is a great adult read.

Chasing Valdemeere by Blue Balliet (Blue Spruce Book Award nominee 07-08)
Petra Andalee & Calder Pillay attempt to resolve the mystery surrounding a famous and priceless Vermeer painting that disappeared during a move from its home museum to an art exhibit in another city. The FBI seem unable to solve the disappearance but Petra and Calder use ingenious methods in their attempts to locate the Vermeer painting.

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson to be published May 2007 (bookclub copy available see Ms. SweetPeek)
Don't read this one unless you have read Maximum Ride and the sequel Maximum Ride: Schools Out. Do read this if you enjoyed those. Max, the oldest of six genetically altered children continues to protect the younger children and flee from the evil scientists that want to terminate their DNA projects (Max and others). This fast paced action will keep you reading until the end.

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper 2006
Amari enjoyed her life and eagerly anticipated her marriage in a small peaceful African village. Her family is brutally murdered. Slave traders invaded the tribal lands amari is chained to other young women and suffer a hard march to the ocean and a terrible voyage to the new world. Amari is purchased as a birthday gift for the son of a wealthy family. Loneliness, homesickness and hopelessness fill her life until she develops a friendship with another girl who also dreams of freedom. I highly recommend this one.

The Boy who Spoke Dog by Clay Morgan 2003
When his ship wrecks, Jack, a nineteenth-century cabin boy, finds himself stranded on a remote island near New Zealand. Once inhabited by farmers, the island now has only sheep and sheep dogs, left behind after the people abandoned their homes. When Jack arrives, the dogs have split into two groups: one that loyally cares for the sheep and another that attacks them. The story, told in alternating viewpoints shifts between Jack's perspective and that of Moxie, a young dog. As Jack negotiates the two canine groups and learns to survive in his new world, he achieves a bond so deep that he can communicate with the dogs. Morgan delivers an unusual, engrossing novel, using vivid language to project the reader into the sounds and smells of the animal world as he examines the ancient bonds between humans and dogs.

Saint Iggy by K. L. Going 2006 (Best Books for Young Adults 2007)
Iggy didn't mean to get kicked out of school, he just followed that cute girl into class and the teacher went ballistic. He'd tell his mom but she's been gone for a long time; he always tells himself that she's visiting friends, but the hard truth centers around her drug habit. Iggy's dad is home at the housing project, but he is passed out drunk. Mo, a college age friend seems like a good guy to visit but Mo's place reeks of marijuana. Mo needs money so the two of them take the bus across town to Mo's mother's home. Iggy can't believe that Mo lives in a junky apartment when he has a warm clean bedroom in a safe part of town. Mo has denounced his parents wealthy life, "truth is found in meditation and relaxing with a few drugs." This is a tough read but so realistic that I couldn't put it down.

Summer in Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz 2002 (available @ MCPL)
Octavia's art gallery thrives as a popular tourist shop in Eclipse Bay. When Nick Harte repeatedly asks for a date, she repeatedly turns him down because Nick's the legendary handsome, rich guy who loves women and leaves them. A long-running family feud intwines Octavia and Nick. She feels so strongly attracted to Nick that leaving town sounds sensible to her because she plans to avoid a relationship with him.

Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney 2005
Mitty slides through life not worrying about making good grades, just doing enough to keep his mom and dad satisfied. Getting a late start on his advanced biology research paper doesn't bother him. He borrows one of the old books his mom purchased at an estate sell of an doctor. Inside the book he finds an envelope and he exams the content. The doctor had been very interested in small pox and the envelope appears to contain scabs. As Mitty studies small pox he realizes that he may have exposed himself and that all of New York could be in danger because small pox is history in the US and no one is vaccinated against the horrible disease.

Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey April 2007
Princess Rosalind and her mother have worn golden gloves to make a fashion, but mostly to hide the dreaded fact that Rosalind has a dragon's claw instead a ring finger on her left hand. Her mother has contacted every magician, sage and healer in the land to cure her daughter of the dreaded birth defect. Yet the ancient legends of Merlin prophecied that Rosalind, will rule and under her rule the wars of men against dragons will cease.

The dragons have been blood thirsty and the village people want to kill all dragons. They think they have succeeded until a dragon appears and carries away Rosalind. This is a great read for fantasy lovers. It will be available this spring or you can borrow the CHS bookclub galley copy.

Silent Room by Walter Sorrells May 2006
Oswald write letters to his dad, explaining how life seems to be getting stranger by the day. His mom has a new boyfriend who is always on Oz's case, demanding respect and wrestling him "practice" but sometimes Oz feels the wrestling is more. When Oswald gets suspended for hitting another boy at school, the stepdad, states that Oz's behavior is deteriorating and convinces Oz's mother to send him to a reform school. The school is located near Florida on an island swamp infested with alligators. The food is meager, the labor harsh and the punishment for being disrespectful borders on cruelty. The suspense as Oswald attempts to survive and hopes to escape build a great adventure.

Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton 2003 CHS Library
Lady Jeanette's older sister has be reared to be a nobleman's wife , and Lady Jeanette never had to accept responsibilities or manage the Scottish 12th century household.

When Isabel disgraces the family, Lady Jeannette suddenly become the young woman who will be married to insure the family's land and well being. Tales of magic have often been repeated and no one ventures into the mysterious forest along. Lady Jeannette struggles to control her life and protect her father's estate. This is an enjoyable historical fiction with a delightful twist of fantasy.

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by e. l. konigsburg 2004
Konigsburg's last book, Silent to the Bone. held me spellbound so that I leaped at this new book. Margaret Rose has spent every summer with her peculiar but interesting uncles or traveling with her parents. This summer neither welcomed her company so she investigated summer camps and picked the very best one. The camp roommates play too many cruel tricks on Margaret Rose which leads her to beg for her uncles to rescue her.

The uncles sculpted three remarkable towers in their backyard 45 years ago, now the restoration of historic old town wants the towers demolished. This is an intriguing tale of how Margaret Rose's quest to help her uncles. (The CHS library copy has been lost, but you may borrow this from another District 51 library.)

December 06

Jaket Book
Everyone is Welcome Here
by Elizabeth Berg.
Diana was born in an iron lung. Her mother fierce and strong-willed inspite of the fact that polio had paralyzed her from the neck down and her husband walked out, Paige Dunn chooses to raise Diana alone. Peacie, a fiercely loyal and firm black caregiver, helps Paige and Diana. The civil rights movement is beginning, unrest flows through their Missourri town. Poverty and rigid requirements of social services continual cause hardship for them. Available at Mesa County Public Library.

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci, November 2006
Stacey, a little too rich, a little too poor, and a little too mean. Kurt seemed to have it all, good looks, good grades and acceptance into the Navel Academy. His younger sister is the dare devil and airhead who doesn't think of the consequences. The night was eerie with clouds drifting, hiding the moon, distorting figures, and then a tiny gun passed among friends and a single shot. Now Casey is missing; witnesses don't remember much: no splash, no body, no gun and lots of hidden secrets. The night drags on slowly as the police interrogate everyone who had been at the pier. The tension and the shocking secrets revealed as the police attempt to discover who pulled the trigger, what happened to Casey and where is the other girl. The story largely takes place in a 24-hour period, but the intensity and drama of this mystery kept me reading until late. The story is gritty and could be real. This one rates high on my recommended reading list. This gritty story will be at Central High School Library in February. In the meantime check it out from Mesa County Public Library

Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark
Randolph Weed has decided to refurbish a cruise ship and make its maiden voyage a “goodwill trip” which is free for people who have made major contributions to society.

Ten Santa Clauses, plus several generous philanthropist are invited to be on the Santa Cruise; unfortunately, a couple of uninvited people board the ship and the Commodore must discover who is planning to steal things from his ship.

November Books

His Majesty's dragon by Naomi Novik. 2006 (Book 1 in the triology)
Lawrence planned his career as a sea captain for her Royal Navy. The target is to defeat Napoleon. When Lawrence's crew captures a French vessel, everything changes as they discover a large dragon egg in the hold. The dragon must be paired with a man to become the Royal defense. Dragon riders live apart from society; they train, fight and serve their country. When the newborn dragon chooses Lawrence to be his partner, life changes dramatically for the sea captain. Adventure abounds as Lawrence and Teramarie train and develop a deep relationship. The story has action and great appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy and historical fiction. The triology includes Throne of Jade and Black Powder War.

Shock Point by April Henry 2006
Cassie and her mom had a good life, until the stepfather arrived on the scene. Difficulties adjusting to the new lifestyle leave Cassie at odds with her stepfather, who is a child psychologist and has a perfect explanation for her behavior and punishment for her misbehavior. Cassie finds herself seized and taken to Mexico to a “school to teach teens proper behavior.” Food is meager, punishment often unreasonably harsh for the teens at Peaceful Cove School. XXXX attempts to escape, but the wise doctor and school administrators have preached to the parents to not believe the outrageous stories the kids tell. Sometimes the story seems unbelievable, at other times, I cringed because I could imagine a twisted relationship leading to these circumstances. Shock point made me consider situations that I had never thought possible. This is a harsh story of a teenager put into a horrible situation. The fast action and twisted thinking will captivate readers.

Marley & me : life and love with the world's worst dog by John Grogan. 2005
This is the “One Book, One Community” selection for Mesa County. Marley is the overly large golden Labrador that John and Sue acquire because they want to know if they can nurture a living thing. John voices the adventures as they attempt to train Marley, who is kicked out of obedience school. Anyone who has owned a pet that misbehaved will relate to the adventures of Marley, who is kind-hearted but often goes astray in his actions. I laughed and cried as I read the tale of Marley's life.

Don't read this if you are the type who hates a great story where the good dog dies.

Art Geeks and prom Queens by Alyson Noel 2005

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld 2005

The Pretties by Scott Westerfeld 2006

The Specials by Scott Westerfeld 2006
I throughly enjoyed Westerfeld book Peeps. This science fiction triology takes a totally different direction. I planned to only read the first one: Uglies, so that I would learn a little about the triology. I was sucked into it and had to read the sequels. In the Uglies, young people are taught that they are "ugly" It's ok to call people names that fit their looks: Pig face, 4 eyes, squinty, fatty because at 16 each teen under goes the surgery to become a "Pretty" and then life is wonderful because each one has a perfect body and the parties are wonderful. Tally is eagerly awaiting her 16th birthday. Her best friend became a Pretty six months ago and doesn't associate with her because she is still ugly.

As she nears her birthday, she meets some young people who talk about living in the wild and NOT becoming a pretty. They think that the government is altering people's minds as well as their looks and they don't like it. Tally and her friend become involved with kids who are escaping from the city. If you read the first one you'll want to read the rest because Tally faces some drastic changes and problems.

Green Jasper by K. M. Grant 2006 Book Two of the De Granville Trilogy
In Blood Red Horse, Will and his brother Gavin have fought bravely during the Crusades. Gavin has lost his right arm in the battle. The castle is in full preparations for Gavins wedding to Elli when De Scabious kidnaps her. DeScabious claims that King Richard is dead and the new king will approve of his actions. The red horse which bravely fought in the Crusade again, helps Will in his battle to reclaim Ellie.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. 2002 Blue Spruce nominee, ALA best books
This futuristic society despises clones. Matt was raised in isolation by a doting woman Cecila. When he is discovered and brought to the big mansion, House of the Scorpion, the human loath him. Matt is a clone of the drug lord El Patron, 143 years old. El Patron possessives a huge opium estate and people. On trips into the countryside, Matt's bodyguard teaches him about nature and human relationships. Maria, one of the children who discovered Matt, has unbending faith that Matt is special and even though clones aren't suppose to have souls, she thinks Matt has a soul.

I never consider myself a Sci-Fi reader, but I was glued to this book. The fast action kept my interest while the possibilities of scientific developments intrigued and horrified me. Farmer went to the extreme in describing how clones could be used.

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer 2006
As a sequel to Twilight, Bella and Edward had become friends, but suddenly he leaves town and erases all traces of their relationship. This book is as suspenseful as the first and is a must read. Romance --- vampires --- werewolves all share in this thriller.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Bella moves from sunny Phoenix to dreary grey Washington state so that her newly married mom can have more freedom. Bella meets a unusually pale but handsome classmate. She is immediately attracted to him, however, he seems to passionately dislike her before she even speaks a word in biology lab. A week later he miraculously saves her from a car accident. Intrigued by his lightning speed action and his families mysterious behavior, she makes every effort to get close to him. Bella discovers more than she bargained. Twilight rates among the top ten best books I've read this year.

Crossing the Wire by Wil Hobbs 2006
Quiet and non-adventurous Victor Flores, 15, has hoed and planted corn each year since his father died. The price of corn continues to drop and the only way to make money to feed his mother and three sisters is to cross the border to El Norte. He has no money to pay a coyote to slip him across the border; he must travel alone, slip through the border patrols and gangs to find work in the United States.

Between Jo and Mom by Julie Peters 2006
Nick has grown up thinking his life was ok. He lives in a happy home with two people who love him. When his mom breaks the news to him that she and Josephine are no longer going to live together, Nick struggles with the horrible feelings of where should he place his loyalty, who does he really want to live with and why is this happening to him.

This is a tense story of a young boys struggle with his parents separation.

When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

Lake House by James Patterson

Hard Truth by Nevada Barr

Fresco by Sharon Tepper

Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor

Maise Dobbs by Jaqueline Winspear

If I have a Wicked Stepmother by Kantof (nominated for Teen's Top Ten list 06)

Powder Monkey by Paul Dowswell (nominated for Teen's Top Ten list 06)
The ocean has always captivated XXX interest. To the disappointment of his family, XXX signs on with a merchant marine ship. Within a few month, the Royal British Navy boards the merchant vessel and takes sailors to become life-long members of the Royal Navy. XXX has no choice. He is the Powder Monkey that carries powder from the store room to the cannons as they do battle with the French and pirates.

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
Stephanie Plum is back to her usual private investigation and capturing people who have skipped bail. This time, a stranger attempts to assume the role of Ranger, kidnaps his daughter and wants Stephanie to join him in his career.

Blackthorn Winter by Kathryne Reiss Jan 2006 (nominated for Teen's Top Ten list 06)
Juliana, 15, grudgingly accompanies two younger siblings and her artist mother to Blackthorn England. Her mom “wants to find herself in her art.” Their English cottages is cold and primitive . . . very little hot water and no internet. The gloomy days add to Juliana's bad mood until the artist village has a celebration for up and coming artists and a woman, Liza, is killed. The police quickly arrest the town bad guy, but Juliana isn't convinced of his guilt. When Juliana questions too many people, threatening notes are left on their doorstep, and she become paranoid.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin 2005 (nominated for Teen's Top Ten list 06)
Liz didn't look both ways before crossing the street. She died instantly and now finds that she is in a place called Elsewhere. From the observation deck she can view earth and watch her parents and friends that she misses so much. The grandmother that she never knew on earth welcomes her to the new life in elsewhere. Adjusting is difficult, she longs to have the opportunities that were her earthly dreams and goals: getting her driver's license, going to prom, and having a first love. This novel offers readers the opportunity to think about an interesting life after an earthly death.

Megan Mead's Guide to the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian (author of The Princess and the Pauper)

For the first time in her life, Megan put her foot down when her army parents decide to transfer to South Korea; she is going to stay in the US and finish high school.

That means she must live with her parents' best friends, the McGowans and their SEVEN boys. The older boys seems to be hunks that all the girls dream about, the younger ones are terrors that won't stay out of Megan's personal stuff ( underwear and makeup) All of them seem to have declared war on a girl moving into their territory. Megan correspondence with her best friend describes what she has learned from living with a house full of guys.

This is a story that will both make you laugh and cringe as Megan and the guys learn to live under the same roof.

Laguna Beach by Alyson Noel (Sept. 2006)
The move from the East Coast to Southern California horrified Anne. Her parents divorced, she no longer could complete in diving, her boyfriend said farewell and now she is stuck in Laguna Beach with her movie director dad, in a new school for her senior year.

Reluctantly Anne agrees to learn how to surf. Chris takes an interest in Anne, but his close friend Ellie treats Anne like the ice queen of the East.

If you have read Gossip Girl or Art Geeks and Prom Queens you'll enjoy this high school drama.

New Moon by Stephanie Myers (sequel to Twilight )

Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever by James Patterson (May 2006)
Max and her “flock” 5 mutant children, who have genetically been altered, escape from their “school” which is actually a hidden lab for scientist with plans to change the world. Max and the flock's strongest desire are to find their real parents and reunite with them.
The Erasers, genetically altered flying wolves hope to terminate the flock. The kids are beginning to become weary of having to hide and always be on guard. Suddenly they find a woman who accepts them and offers her home to them. She has a secret reason for wanting them to stay with her.

My editorial comment: If someone asked me, I wouldn't describe myself as a science fiction fan, yet, I find myself devouring this series. School's Out is a great story, however, it is a fantastic sequel to Maximum Ride: an Angel Experiment. The personal relationship between these young people, their efforts to escape from the bad guys and their hope to have a good life although they are mutant forms is an intrigue tale.
Anyone who enjoys suspense, sci-fi or good guys vs. bad guys will enjoy this book.

Nailed by Patrick Jones 2006 (nominee for Teens Top Ten Award for 2006) will be available at CHS Library this fall. "Bret, what's wrong with you" that's the statement Bret has heard his father ask a thousand times and he has never been able to answer it. A menial job at a car wash place and the prized camaro fill Bret's dad's life. Unlike his father, Bret has no interest in changing the oil, or doing anything with cars; drama productions, his band and literature fascinate him. Bret can't drive the family car until he learns to change the oil but he refuses to give into his father's demand. This is a dramatic story of the struggle between a father & son whose values seem opposite and their lack of ability to see what the other person really is. Here's my favorite line from the book: "I know," I (Bret) say. (his dad replies) "No, you don't. You don't know anything until you've lived it, every single day. It's not about getting what you want, it's about getting what you need and doing what you should."

Nailed will get my vote for Teens Top Ten.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson 2005 (nominee for Teens Top Ten Award 2006)
Ginny's favorite aunt disappeared two years ago. Aunt Peg was always considered to be a little flaky. Now Ginny has received a package with $1000, 13 blue envelopes and instruction to by a plane ticket. Ginny hasn't ever traveled; now she's expected to go alone to meet a stranger in London. Each letter tells Ginny to do something and then open the next letter. The story is an adventure of the unusual events that occur as Ginny follows her aunt's directions.

The world is flat : a brief history of the twenty-first century by Thomas L. Friedman.
This is NOT a teen book, however, the global economics that Friedman discusses are shocking an relevant to all of us. The globalization and 10 forces are re-shaping the world, in the same way the Gutenberg press revolutionized the world. Economics isn't my favorite topic, yet, I found this book intriguing and every young person should read this because it's all about how the world is changing and how jobs, careers, and processes are rapidly changing.

A Dying Art by
A delightful murder mystery, available in paperback.

Light of the Oracle by Victoria Hanley 2005 (Blue Spruce Book Award nominee for 2006)
Bryn, a humble stonecutter's daughter, she has been considered the odd child who has visions that no one else can see. She is called to the Temple of Oracle to serve as a handmaid to the priest. Her gift gives her strength and knowledge that cause others to consider her a threat that they'd like to eliminate. The companion books are The Seer and the Sword and The Healer's Keep.

Peep by Scott Westerfeld September 2005
Terrifying, gross and fascinating all describe my reaction to Peep. Cal, a young man from the country goes to New York and is seduced by the city life and a young woman. Too late, he realizes she infected him with an incurable disease. Cal joins the ranks that fight this infection; a quest to find and destroy carriers who are spreading the disease. (Think about vampires not AIDES) The story is gross as alternating chapters describe hideous parasites that live and invade our human lives. Yet, the story fascinated me as the parasite spread from human to human, rat to rat and mutated to infect other creatures. This is science fiction with a very realistic touch. Peep rates as one of the top five books I've read in the past year.

House on Lorelei Street by Mary E Pearson. 2005
Zoe, 17, hates living with her alcoholic mother and the moldy smells; she fears that one day she'll come home to find her mother dead, just like she found her father. To escape, Zoe rents a room on Lorelei Street. Maintaining good grades, playing on the tennis team and paying rent with her meager waitress earning causes her to make some tough choices. The ending is shocking and terrifying. I can relate to having my personal situation change my attitude to the side I once opposed.

How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin 2003 (A Blackbird Sisters Mistery)
I always enjoy a good murder mystery. martin didn't let me down. Three sisters come from a linage of women whose young husbands die unexpectedly. They call it the "Blackbird curse."

Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin 2003
When high society experiences jewelry theft at social events, and the young wife of a rising politician is drown in the family swimming pool, crime and family feuds begin. Easter sister is drastically different from her siblings, but they confront the mysterious events of their lives and kept me intrigued.

December 2005

The following are CHS Library books that Ms SweetmanMcPeek read.

People of Sparks by Jeanne Duprau 2004 This sequel to City of Ember (Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award nominee for 2005) takes Lina and Doon from their first arrival in the new land to finding other humans. Both groups struggle to meet every day needs of food,clothing, and shelter. Sharing and caring about the other group is difficult for everyone. Resentment, distrust, and lies all create problems for the people. I thoroughly enjoyed City of Ember and People of Sparks. They give intriguing ideas of how we would survive if a war wiped out civilization as we know it.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.
Krakauer has researched the history of the Mormon church. He intertwines current Mormon events with the historical events from the time Joseph Smith founded the Church of Latter Day Saint to their movement to Utah. Krakauer describe the violence and hatred that occurred as the church formed and transitioned through it various beliefs.

This is light reading for a holiday weekend, but is very interesting.

Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci (galley to be published March 2006)
Libby Brin is part of the cool crowd at school. She extremely popular, wears the latest in designer fashion. She and her friends are powerful enough to attack and taunt the nerds and oddballs. Parties happen regularly, but Libby is suffering from “Boredom.” When Libby's dad decides to change careers; their family budget changes. In an effort to have something that “looks good” for her college application, she signs up to volunteer at the local zoo. There she has to work with some of the seriously nerdy kids and a midget. As the semester passes Libby realized that these people offer a lot more. Castellucci last book Boy Proof was a great read and it led me to pick up this book. The beginning was slow for me and I almost put it down because I don't enjoy reading about how the popular kids rule and pick on unpopular kids, however, I was hooked by the time Libby got involved in her volunteer work at the zoo.

Silver Bells by Luanne Rice 2004
This delightful story begins with Christmas blues, Catherine's husband had died at Christmas. She meets a Christmas tree seller from Nova Scotia and through his daughter's excitement about Christmas Catherine rediscovers the magic of Christmas as well as love and hope.

East by Edith Pattou 2003
Pattou has recreated a delightful fairy tale. Rose travels abroad on the back of a giant white bear because the bear has said that Rose's sister will recover from a grave illness if Rose comes with him. Though the plot is familiar to all of us the story is intriguing. The adventures of Rose and the white bear will keep every reader interest. This fantasy is a previous ALA Best Book title.

Head Above Water by S. L. Rottman 1999
Skye, a high school junior, lives to swim. Competing at state is her dream. Her single mother works two jobs to keep the family going. Her brother is a year older, but in the same grade. Skye's duty is to take care of her brother because his down syndrome requires that he has close supervision. When a dream guy asks Skye for a date she has to figure out how to balance swim practicing, taking care of Sunny and finding free time to have a love life. Rottman is a Colorado author. Rough Water which is a river rafting adventure set in Buena Vista is also a great read.

Head Above Water is a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults

Light Years by Tammar Stein, 2005.

(nominated for Teen's Top Ten 2005)
Maya Labor served two years in the Israeli army, and was struggling with her decision to study astronomy at the University of Virginia. Finally she decided, but a suicide bomber changes everything in her life. This is an awesome story of a young woman dealing with the tragedy and pain caused by terrorist. The story jumps between her current life and her life before the bombing. At first I wasn't sure I'd get hooked into the story, but it didn't take long until I empathized with Maya and wanted to know the whole story.

Teen Idol by Meg Cabot, 2004.
(nominated for Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award 2005). I laughed and enjoyed the first Cabot book I read, All American Girl. Later, I read the Princess Diaries series. When I saw this title I was afraid that Cabot had done too many sequels and they would all begin to sound the same. I was delightfully surprised. In Teen Idol, Jenny Greenly is a very dependable, over-achiever in high school. The principal places Jenny in charge of helping the new student who is actual a very popular young movie star. Luke's upcoming movie is about public school and he wants to experience but his schooling has always been private tutors at the movie location.

Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin 2004.
(nominated for Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award 2005).
This fantasy begins in a setting of poor desolate farms. Each farm family has unique gifts; some of the gifts are terrifying. The gift to heal, the gift to unmake (dissolve things and people), the gift to inflict disease or pain. When the farms feud, they call upon their gifts to terrify the opponent. One young man's gift is so strong that his father blinds him to protect loved ones. A childhood friend Gry also struggles with the meaning of her gift and how the communities use their gifts. Gifts ending will surprise you but leave you with a wonderful feeling of change and hope.

Curse of the Blue Tattoo, a Bloody Jack Adventure by L. A. Meyer 2004
Meyer's first novel, Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship Boy was listed as ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Jacky, a street orphan disguises herself as a boy and sign onto the Dover Ship because as part of the ship crew she will be fed daily and have a place to sleep. When the captain discovers Jackie is a female, she is escorted off the ship to a girls finishing school in Boston. Jacky's bravery and her rash decision lead her into mischief and adventure . This historical fiction adventure is funny and intriguing.

Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe, (Galley to be published January 2006)
No matter how hard Jasmine tries she seems to be a disaster at every event and her cousin is the pristine perfect daughter. Their families spend a vacation together at a resort. Jas is the one who is attacked by the cat, destroys the wedding cake and knocks the bride into the swimming pool. Her cousin doesn't even get a wrinkle in her clothes. The Bad Kitty happens to belong to the son of a movie star. While in Las Vegas Jasmine becomes involved in a murder mystery. This is definitely a chick flick book. It held my interest and I was surprised by the ending.

Under the Boardwalk by Carly Phillips 2005
Arianna created a perfect calm life for herself as a Vermont college professor. When her twin is reported missing Arianna returns to her small home town, her crazy lovable Greek family and begins searching for her twin sister. When shots are fired at her while walking on the beach she realizes Zoe may have been involved in something dangerous.

This is a delightful romance. Available as a mass market paperback