How to Break a Dragon's Heart by Cressida Cowell
Hiccup has gone to look for Camicazi who disappeared in a storm. He's gone to the land of the Uglithug and Berserkers. Lots of action and complications with people, dragons, and even a witch. There are touching moments too(always surprising to me for some reason). This time it was the dragon mother who adopts the human baby as she mourns her dead child. And other moments of brokenheartedness. Excellent. 4th+


Frankly, Frannie Book 1 by A.J. Stern
Frannie can hardly wait to work in an office and is overjoyed to hear about the upcoming field trip to a radio station. Compare to Junie B, Clementine, or Judy Moody. Precocious. Bad grammar. trouble. Exaggerated kid talk. not my favorite. 2nd grade+

The Scorpio Games by Stiefvater, Maggie
as much as I hated Shiver and its sequels, I loved this. Based on the folk tales about water horses (kelpies) known here as capall uisce (kapple ishka), the island of Thisby is known for its race each October. Puck Connelly, also known as Kate, becomes the first woman to enter the race and on a normal horse. The build up to the race with all of its side stories is spot on. There's Sean Kendrick, mysterious horse whisperer. The malevolent Malverns, father and son who hold all the cards it seems. Rich American Mr. Holly. And losts of wonderful side characters. So much is going on. I just wish it had gone longer. YA for violence.

Promises to the Dead by Mary Downing Hahn
One of my favorite authors, she is in top form again. This is an older book (2000) that I somehow missed. In rural Maryland, at the outset of the Civil War, Jesse makes a promise to a dying slave that he will guide her young son to safety. It is a deadly trip, with multiple instances of danger and mistrust. Great plot and good conclusion. 5th + (some serious violence and a lot of paternity issues)

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
A classic. A young girl looks at her life and her home in the Spanish neighborhood. I wasn't moved, but I guess the voice is strong. So good language usage. YA for sexual references.

Eon by Alison Goodman
another epic story. First there is the choosing of the new Dragoneye who will guide the power of the twelve energy dragons. But even more dangerous is the political intrigue around the seat of the Pearl Emperor. Eon is treading a dangerous path combining the power of being able to see all the dragons along with a terrible secret. This is complicated but excellent. Be ready to read the sequel immediately. YA for violence and a lot of sexuality (a cross dressing man/woman, a host of eunuchs, and the danger of sexuality for Eon.) nice part on taking the Sun drug (steroids)

Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
The novel in verse about the Jamestown Flood. Celestia, a socialite, and Peter, the hired help, fall in love at the country club above the reservoire above Johnstown. Nice confluence of characters and fairly happy ending. Some scandal as the older sister is "ruined" and flees to Europe. YA.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Elisa on her sixteenth birthday is given to marry the King of a large neighboring country. But as the chosen one who carries the Godstone, she is more concerned about what God has called her for. The enemy is ready to strike. The plot is sufficiently complicated and there is palpable danger. Our heroine grows page by page. With the outbreak of violence there are wrenching turns to the story, but it's very satisfying. YA for violence and sexual overtones.
Stands alone. Excellent.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
Based on the life of Japanese fisherman Manjiro who was rescued from Bird Island by an American whaling ship in the early 1800s. Manjiro eventually becomes a crucial link to the opening of the ports of Japan to foreigners. He returns to the US with the captain who "adopts" him only to face racial discrimination in New England. Not heavy handed, but deals realistically with the torn feelings of "John Mung" (the name the sailors give him). Noble. a Newbery Honor book. The whaling industry is also an interesting piece of this. 4th+ Very very good.

The Genius Files by Dan Gutman
Blue Spruce Nominee 2013 Usually I like Gutman's books--Homework Machine, X(sports figure) and Me, Million Dollar shot, kick, hit, etc. But this is not to my taste. I guess what bothers me most is that people keep getting killed, sometimes at the hands of kids. There are humorous moments and lots of true trivia as they travel across country looking at giant balls of twine and other Americana. Someone will like this. (obviously since it was nominated...) Not YA.

Inside Out and Back Again by Lai, Thanhha
A fictionalized account of a young Vietnamese girl who flees at the fall of Saigon, awaits rescue on a refugee boat and finally is sponsored into America by a family in Alabama. Based on her own life, this is written in free verse and is a moving story. I especially was touched by the moment she knows the class thinks she is stupid when she knows she is not, she is smart. Excellent. Quick Read. 4th+

Eona by Alison Goodman
Sequel to Eon, Lady Eona is committed to the Resistance and must master her powers as well as her loves. Great conflicts involving honor, trust, power and courage. This is really well written with the plot moving along rapidly through all 600 pages. Should appeal to boys as well as girls although the romance is pretty strong. Nice conclusion. YA excellent.
example of writing in this: "Dawn finally brightened the sky. Wearily I propped myself on my elbows, the thin rug beneath me bunched into a map of my restlessness." p 125