Fragments: Book Two in the partials Sequence by Dan Wells
Kira has left New York City to search for answers to what caused the fatal virus that has killed most of humanity as well as the answer to why the Partials are dying at 20 years also. Kira, Samm and Heron, along with the slightly unhinged Afa travel by horse across the eastern US to Chicago where they find only part of the puzzle. The trip across the acid poisened wasteland of the midwest is a unique piece of literature. At this sentence "(spoiler) died days later" I cried more than I have in a long time. Excellent. YA for violence and some sexual situations.

Rescuing the Children: The Story of the Kindertransport by Deborah Hodge
Before war was actually declared, more than 10,000 Jewish children were evacuated from Germany, Poland and other parts of Europe to live in Britain. With plenty of photos, this is written for children with an emphasis on courage and compassion. Good.

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinlein
What? I've never heard of this. Once again, Sheinlein has taken a moment of history and told an incredible story full of intrigue. Amazing.

Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith
Lulu is a strong-willed character with panache. She needs to raise money for something she really wants. (a mystery to the end) and so takes up dog-walking but alas needs the help of Fleischman, the perfect one. This has surprising chapters, great characters including the dogs, and a nice character development (but not too nice...) Excellent. 2nd+

W.A.R.P. the Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer
Get ready to start moving as soon as you open this book. It never slows down. Albert Garrick sets out to murder an old man but instead is transported from Victorian England to modern London along with his assistant. Chevron, an FBI prodigy, finds herself babysitting a mysterious pod--so boring until the assassin shows up! This is YA for the creepiness of the serial killing Garrick and the graphic descriptions of murders. Really well written--just not bedtime story. Excellent.YA

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
Althea knows she must marry money because her family's castle is literally falling down around them. But the competition is fierce. This is Jane Austen that's readable for middle school. Nothing deep. Strong heroine. Silly suitors. Not terribly evil stepsisters. The end was predictable from early on, but still fun reading. Good. YA for ? Not even a kiss.

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Jill is mortified when she finds out her mother is adopting a baby from a contact online. Meanwhile, Mandy is fleeing something while also seeking a safe home for her soon-to-be delivered baby. Told in alternating chapters by the two girls, this story is a moving account from both perspectives. Jill just can't seem to recover from the sudden death of her father. Mandy just doesn't know how to survive successfully. This is an emotional ride. Excellent. YA for sexual issues. (Both teens are sexually active, but not explicitly described.)

The Raft by S. A. Bodeen
Sort of Hatchet for young adults. Robie is returning to her home on Midway Island in the middle of the Pacific when her plane crashes. This is a classic survival story. Just a little heavy handed on the environmentalism. Really--you wouldn't eat a bird or animal when you are starving? Great brain conversations. Good. YA for creepiness?

Curveball: The Year I Lost my Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
Peter had high expectations for freshman year after being the baseball star of 8th grade and then his throwing arm literally disintegrates. This is a moving story along with plenty of humor. Peter has to deal with the apparent dementia that is overtaking his mentor grandfather, as well as handling his own change of circumstances including a girl who is perfect. Excellent. YA for ? kissing?

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills
Mills lives in Boulder so this may be a local story. Sierra finds a knife in her lunch box and realizes that she and her mother have switched lunches. She quickly turns it in and is immediately suspended for bringing a weapon to school. The story from there is all about character development. Principal, burned out secretary, bad boy Luke, lawyer dad, artist mom, and so on. This has some nice twists and a great conclusion. I'd recommend it for read aloud except for the random b--ch exclamations. Good.

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
Cooper calls this a fantasy. Little Hawk and John Wakeley's lives cross in Colonial Massachusetts. This is a rare look into early life from two unique perspectives. Pilgrim and Native violence. Not overly anti-religious, but Christianity doesn't come off very well. Good. Violence compares to Paulsen's Woods Runner. mature 5th+

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Like Code Name Verity, this is an emotional read about a surviver of Ravensbruck, the womens' concentration camp. Riveting is apt. Rose Justice is an American woman pilot who ferries planes for the ATA in England. Tied loosely to the first volume, she is friends with Maddie. But this story stands alone, with Rose developing new (awful and yet tender) ties with French, Polish and Russian prisoners. The story revolves especially around the "rabbits"--girls the Nazis operated on in the camp in horrible ways. a top pick for me for this year. Excellent. Mature YA

Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldeko
Following the story of Moose and his autistic sister, and their friends living on Alcatraz, Moose's dad has been promoted to assistant Warden. But there is danger involved because not only do the prisoners get points for hurting him, the other workers have issues too. This is historical mystery. Very Good. 4th+

Bitter Kingdom (Conclusion to Girl of Fire and Thorns) by Rae Carson
(follows Crown of Embers) Elisa has gone to rescue Hector and complete a much larger task--bringing peace to her kingdom along with the other small kingdoms and the Inviernes. With her small group of Mara, Belen and Storm, the odds are impossible. But Storm is finding his power and Elisa's godstone grows stronger daily. This is a great satisfying conclusion with just the right amount of sadness to make the cost valuable. Wish I could have read them all together instead of a year apart. Excellent. YA for violence and unexplicit sex.