Books:

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale. (netgalley Sept 2012)
a sequel after the original Princess Academy from 2006. Britta is to marry the heir to the throne Stephen and the representative from the mountain province of Mount Eskel has asked for the princess' "ladies" to come to the capital, Asland. The capital is reeling from oppression by the king and the "shoeless" commoners are rumbling about rebellion. What is Mira to do? This is a strong story with a strong heroine. The revolution is not a single event, but a process. 5th+ Excellent.

Cold Cereal by Adam Rex
by the author of The Truth about Smekday. The cover blurb looks like a nutrition label with things like "serving size 1 chapter Number of servings 40" or adventure 75%, danger 57% etc. and my favorite: Not a significant source of vampires. and May contain nuts. There just aren't enough humor books.
Scottish Play Doh (Scott) is the new kid, again. He meets and befriends Erno and Emily Utz who are geniuses but strange. He also meets Mick the Leprechaun, or Clurichaun as he insists. The Goodco Cereal Company, the main employer in town, is run by some kind of secret society who seem to have evil intentions. This plot is so complicated I can't even start to summarize it. Let me just say, pay attention to the stories Mick tells. And take time to pause and think about real world allusions. Very funny. 4th+

The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen
Three great books in a row!! Lucky me! This is an unusual fantasy type book, but without magic. It does take place in a land far away, with Kings and princes and princesses. Sage is taken in by Conner, a noble of Carthya, and given two weeks to turn into a missing prince. Two other orphans are competing for that not-so-coveted spot, and the story is satisfyingly complicated. Sage is a complicated and likable hero. The ending is the best. Extreme violence makes this YA. Excellent.

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
to be published in Sept 2012. from NetGalley. In 1584 114 settler disappeared from the island of Roanoke.Now another 114 have disappeared and Miranda Blackwood's father has been murdered. Miranda knows only that the Blackwood family has been cursed forever. Phillip Rawling, the sherriff's son, has always been a rebel--but it's only the way he dealt with the avalanche of voices he hears on the island. This isn't my choice of genres--paranormal romance with a boatload of supernatural complications. But it was pretty good as a story. Very very dark. YA for evilness.and sexual overtones. Really really creepy.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (netgalley pub Aug 2012)
Author is a Newbery winner (Sweet Ladies something...) This is Dickensian fantasy. Two orphans, Lizzie Rose and Parsefal, working for a strange PuppetMaster in London meet Clara, who is rich but oh so unhappy. Concurrently a witch is dying from the oppression of a cursed opal somehow connected to the puppetmaster Grisini. The characters are interesting and the ending is satisfying. Not particularly fast moving, but an intricate plot. I enjoyed it. Very good (Waaaay better than the Newbery). 5th+

Watchers: Last Stop by Peter Larengis (netgalley, pub March 2012?)
Like the 39 Clues series, this is quite short with a simple conflict, though quite mysterious. David is still angry at his dad for just disappearing one day. This is sometime in the future when the police have a strong arm, but something weird is still going on. It seems located at the abandoned subway station, Granite Street. This could be a very quick read aloud or class assignment. 18 short chapters. OK but not great for me. 4th+

Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler (Blue Spruce nominee 2012)
Dusty gets a call from a boy who claims he is dying and seems to know things about her no one should know. A quick start and very very creepy. It does slow down a bit and has a load of angst. But the ending is worth the trip. It's also heavily supernatural, and does involve a rape in the backstory. OK for mature middle schoolers. YA for sure. Very good.

Yesterday by C. Kelly Martin (netgalley pub Sept 2012)
This was excellent. Freya has returned to her home in Canada after the death of her diplomat father, but everything somehow seems, well, off. She can't even express it to herself until one day she sees a boy that she knows she knows. Garren insists she is delusional until things start happening that are impossible to explain. Set in 1985, we know that she is somehow linked to a dystopian future. The "science" part of this science fiction is excellent. Two pages of passionate almostsex, however, rule this out for me for middleschool. YA-high school.

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder (Blue Spruce Nominee 2012)
Written in free verse, we follow the back and forth thoughts of Brooklyn and Nico who have lost a boyfriend and brother respectively. It's been a year but everything has changed since their friend Gabe has committed suicide and starts appearing to Brooklyn. Concurrently, Lucca leaves messages for Nico to help Brooklyn. The supernatural part of this is eerie and provides much of the tension, but not the deepest part of this story. Moving and thoughtful. Dealing with grief in a serious manner. YA for romance and nightmares. Excellent.

Dust Lands: Blood Red Road by Moira Young (Blue Spruce nominee 2012)
Book One. This does seem to be a bit of a knock off of Hunger Games, but it's well written and couldn't move any faster. In the desolate future, Saba and her twin Lugh (how do you pronounce that??) live in an isolated cabin with their father and young sister Emmi. Without punctuation and with plenty of dialog that includes phrases like "yer hidin place", Young builds a strong place and character in the future world with Saba. This is extremely violent (cage fighting cf with hunger games), and has plenty of burning desire scenes, but seems appropriate for mature middleschoolers. The climax is dramatic and the conclusion satisfying. YA Very Very good.

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus (netgalley)
The Norwegian resistance in WWI was deep-seated even including children.Espen wants to go back to the simpler days of the past, but the invasion of 10,000 German Nazis makes that impossible. Beginning in 1940 and following Espen, his family and friends through the next five years, we are drawn into the subtle and dangerous life of Norwegian resistance. From jokes about Nazis to myriad ways of thumbing noses, many many normal people took a stand. Some of course thought the invasion would improve their state and went along. The story doesn't make it always black and white, but presents the difficult daily decisions that were made by adults and children alike. Based on a true Norwegian survivor, Preus has done another stellar job of historical fiction (cf Heart of a Samurai). 5th+ Excellent.