Ivy and Bean: What's the Big Deal by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall
This is a nice beginning chapter book that doesn't make the characters overly naughty like so many. Based on a science fair this time.

Defiance by C.K. Redwine
Not a book to pick up before trying to fall asleep. Action and tension-packed from the first, this never slows down from page one where Rachel must attend the ceremony proclaiming her father dead and Logan his apprentice, her Protector. The Commander (one of literature's most evil) needs the package Rachel's father has hidden somewhere in the wilderness where anarchy and the Cursed One (an underground monster) reign. This is violent and passionate. Comparable to the Hunger Games. YA.

Crash: Visions Book One by Lisa McMann

this is a quick read. Intriguing from the start. Julie is seeing a vision of a horrible crash over and over. Her family has a history of mental illness so the self-doubt is raging. She is also in a Romeo/Juliet relationship with the son of a competitor's family. (her family runs a small pizza shop in the Chicago area.) Lots of mental stress plus the real danger of this fatal crash. Well written and as I said--a quick read. YA for sexual innuendos.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Especially moving for me as I feel like I've lived this in small part. The is the fictionalized story of the "lost year" of public schooling in Little Rock, Arkansas, after the forced integration of their high schools. The governor supported the closing of the high schools after which several groups were formed in the community to restore education including the Women's Emergency Committee and a grass roots movement to reclass the school board. The author personalized this by making the protagonist a silent twelve-year-old who befriends a new student. Marlee learns about her family, her community and most deeply about herself. Excellent. 4th+ (does use the n word needfully which will make it a difficult read aloud)

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

JUST finished a new book by the Newbery author Clare Vanderpool called Navigating Early. It takes place in 1945 just as WWII is ending. Jack's mother has died suddenly and his Navy officer father has sent him to boarding school in Maine. There he meets Early "the most unusual of boys" whom we recognize as a high functioning autistic child. Together they go on a quest to find a great black bear, tied to the story of Pi that Early sees in the numbers following 3.14... This is so complicated and ties together so perfectly at the end I was awed. EXCELLENT 5th+ complicated. would take a mature reader to put it all together.

Scarlet: the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
sequel to Cinder. Cinder has escaped from prison and is trying to figure out what is going--is she really the Princess? Meanwhile Scarlet Benoit is trying to find her kidnapped grandmother and crosses paths with Wolf, streetfighter and something more. Lots and lots of intrigue. This is a great sequel and it will be a long wait for #3. Very very good. YA for violence and romance.

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
this is a short, relatively easy read but heavily packed with gut wrenching emotions. Cally has lost her mother and no one seems to hear her anymore, so she stops speaking altogether. She has seen her mother along with a homeless giant hound. There is a homeless man who is somehow connected to the dog. Cally becomes friends with her blind neighbor who helps her see what is important.
Favorite quote: "Forget is one of the words I hate. I know what it means: it's when you can't remember. And when you can't remember, you're not as good as when you can."

The MadMan's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
written as a sequel to HG Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau. Juliet is on the verge of street walking when she reconnects with her father's apprentice, Montgomery. She presses him to allow her to go with him to the South Pacific island where her father is in hiding for doing experiments that are abominable to Victorian England. On the way they rescue Edward Prince from floating in the ocean and he goes to the island with them. Macabre science and a love triangle ensue. Gruesomely intriguing with lots of soul-searching. Nothing to keep it from middle school. comparable to Frankenstein. Mature read. YA Very very good.

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Katarina Bishop or Kat, is hired to find a missing will--of her boyfriend's grandmother. Hale is caught in the middle. This develops into a classic con/theft/adventure. Lots of emotions and trickery. Very very good. YA for romance.

Slob by Ellen Potter
This was a reread because it is nominated for Blue Spruce for next year. It's a moving narrative about a boy who is the heaviest kid in his grade. He is also the smartest. But there are so many problems--the PE coach, the new psychopath boy, his friends who don't seem to be friends, and then there is his invention that is supposed to go back in time to help him solve a crisis in his life. Oh, and someone is stealing his Oreos. This goes so many ways but ties together perfectly at the end. a tearjerker though. OK for 4th+ (just a lot of meanness and an over the top PE teacher).

Fire in the Streets by kekla magoon
sequel to The Rock and the River. 1968 Chicago and Maxie wants to be a true Black Panther in the worst way. This is a difficult read because of the deep seated anger and violence. But it's true to character and seems to be honest. Lots of depressing poverty, and violence both within the community and against the community. YA for sexual contexts and language. Very good if difficult to read.