A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
Jack and Tahlia play out the story of Sleeping Beauty. Tahlia and her kingdom sleep for 300 years until Jack finds her and kisses her awake. This is a great story of personal growth and learning to see outside of yourself. I liked the fact that the modern culture isn't always the best, or the worst. This is a good one. YA for romance.


Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
This is a novel based on The Fairy's Curse, but set in India in an indeterminate time in the past with two groups of peoples--something resembling Hindus and something resembling Muslims. Two sisters are "blessed" by a goddess who gives one flowers and jewels whenever she speaks and the other toads and snakes. Both turn out to be trials and blessings. Evolving into a political adventure and love story for the two girls, this reads elegantly. I loved it. YA for cruelty and sexuality. Very very good.

Prodigy: a Legend Novel by Marie Lu
Day and June have escaped to Vegas and are found (or find) by the Patriots. Then the announcement comes that Primo Elector has dies, long live the new Primo Anden. The Patriots plan to assassinate him and begin a new government and Day and June are key players. Lots of romance and intrigue (again) as well as past griefs and difficult decision making. Very very good. Little language. Lots of kissy romance, but far from HS level. 6th+ YA

Hugo Pepper: Far Flung Adventures by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
This is a good story and on the surface looks like an easy read, but the British phrases and old-fashioned vocabulary may make this too difficult for younger readers. The illustrations add a great deal to the story. Nice resolution. 4th+ Good.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
I used this blurb as an example of a great grabber. And it is. But the book didn't grab me. I'm not sure yet what the title means. There were so many possible trails to follow that would have made this really good, but I don't feel I was led anywhere. It's full of literary allusions to fantasy classics--Narnia, Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, Coraline. But I never get the message. Hazel is adopted and there are touches on identity issues. Jack's mother is clinically depressed, but nothing goes anywhere there. Hazel's dad has left and is remarrying, but not much thought to that. The witch is cold but doesn't want anything. There is no defining moment of self-sacrifice. Maybe I'm obtuse. 4th+ meh.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Short but intense read. Sasha Zaichik is looking forward to this special day--he will receive his Young Pioneers' scarf tied by his own father who is an officer in the Security Police. But his father is taken away in the middle of the night and everything begins to fall apart. The ten-year-old believes in Stalin with all of his heart, but nothing is making sense all at once. This is not simplistic, but is a moving vignette of some of what happened under Stalin's rule. Read with the much more complex Between Shades of Grey. Excellent. 5th+

where i live by Eileen Spinelli
Diana's journal has poems and lists about her life. She loves the sky and her best friend Rose. But then, bad news. This is a simple story about dealing with changes. Excellent. 2nd+ (and truly good up to 5th grade).

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin.
Very Weird premise. Witches open a charter school in order to fatten children to eat them. But Lorelei and the fattest kid, Andrew, save the day. This actually was better for me than Breadcrumbs even though the storyline is pretty far-fetched. Well written with suitable complications. And lots of internal fighting going on too. Good. 3rd+ for not squemish readers.

Bomb; the Race to Build - and Steal - the World's most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Reads like a mystery. This is a great narrative about the well known (Oppenheimer) and the not so well known (Harry Gold) people involved in the development of the atomic bomb. Excellent. YA for some language and ? Wow.

The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker
This is an older book but there is a series and I thought I should try it. Very cute. The language is simple enough for those just getting into "real" chapter books, but the humor and story line keep it interesting for older readers too. (like me!) Princess Emma is awkward and loves being in the swamp more than in the palace. She meets your standard talking frog, Prince Eadric, and gives in to his pleas for one kiss. And turns into a frog herself. The rest of the story involves dangers, problems and solutions (surprise). Nicely written although not in my top ten. Good 3rd+

Blizzard of Glass: the Halifax Explosion of 1817 by Sally M Walker
Who knew?? This is a narrative about the largest manmade explosion before the atomic bomb dropped. A munitions boat was hit in Halifax harbor and after catching fire exploded so explosively (??) that nothing of it was left and homes and businesses were flattened in Halifax. Includes many photographs. Very Good. 4th+

Almost Home by Joan Bauer (CCBA nominee 2014)
How did I miss this one? This ranks right up there with Wonder and Out of My Mind. Putting homelessness into a very real narrative, Bauer creates a sensitive, intelligent, strong hero and her puppy (who doesn't die!). Sugar and her mother Reba find themselves suddenly homeless and with a very special dog, Shush. Because of an award winning teacher--or at least he should be!) Sugar manages to continue to cope with a world that isn't making sense. Excellent. 4th +

King George: What Was His Problem?; the Whole Hilarious Story of the American Revolution by Steve Sheinkin
This is a humorous but broad coverage of the American Revolution with an emphasis on people. I think it would make a good read-aloud for 5th grade, or even third grade. How much fun can a history book be? This is it. 4th+ Excellent.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
So Bauer must be the Sarah Dessen of the elementary audience. This story deals with spousal abuse. The close to famous part has two sides: Foster's mother has always been a backup singer in bands, and Foster also comes to work for a semi-retired Hollywood star, thus being close to the famous. Foster can't read but wow can she cook. Nice look at reading difficulties and also dealing with people. I think Bauer has had wise people in her life. 4th+ Excellent.
Can I see your I.D.? : true stories of false identities by Chris Barton
The title says it all. Stories of con artists and escaping women from the last 150 years. Easy to read. Not sure why it's YA except a couple of references to shady backgrounds. OK.

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen
This is a great sequel to The False Prince. Our hero has revealed himself as the returning King since his entire family has been poisoned. Until he finds out who his true supporters are he decides he must leave the castle and search out the pirates that once held him. At times this is violent enough to make me cringe even though I knew he had to survive to the end of the book. But the twists in the plot were surprising--always a gift. He learns a suitable amount about himself without changing too much. We like the young king's feistiness. Excellent. YA for violence and romance.

Middle School: My Brother is a Big Fat Liar by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou
This time little sister Georgia is starting school where everyone begins with You are RAFE Khatchadorian's sister! But she knows she is different. Humor and conflict ensue in exaggerated middle school fashion. A couple of soft moments redeem this read. OK 4th+

the Danger Box by Blue Balliett
Another heady mystery in the line of Chasing Vermeer and the Wright 3. This time Zoomy who is legally blind and from his actions seems to also have a form of autism, comes into the possession of a mysterious notebook with notes from the Galapagos Islands. The mystery is pretty good although they don't wrap up exactly what happens at the beginning, and who exactly Player Four is, it's a good read. I honestly disliked the almost worship of Charles Darwin. OK 4th+