Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

steelheartIn the first few pages of the book Steelheart, the world was hit by a burst of energy in the sky. It came to be known as a The Great Calamity. When the Calamity hit, a small number of people developed super powers just like in superhero movies. These people were referred to as Epics. For the most part, these Epics took over cities and acted like villains instead of heroes. But there wasn’t a whole lot anyone could do to stop them and nobody really tried.

But there are some groups of regular people who tried to fight the Epics. One of these groups is in Chicago. It is called The Reckoners. These guys spend their time trying to find the weaknesses of each Epic and defeat them. One of them is a teenage boy named David.

When David was a little boy, an Epic named Steelheart took over Chicago. Steelheart also killed David’s father right in front of David. Up until this point, no one has even been able to hurt Steelheart or find his weakness. But David has a secret that no one else knows. When David’s father was killed, he saw Steelheart bleed. David thinks he knows how to kill Steelheart and he will try by any means necessary.

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

ITomorrow_When_The_War_Began_Front_Covert was supposed to be a normal camping trip. Seven teenagers from rural Australia go to the outback for a weeklong trip. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until one night while sitting around the campfire, several black jets zoom by overhead with unfamiliar markings. They don’t think too much about it at the time. When they finally get back home their families are all missing and their animals haven’t been fed for several days.

Australia has been taken over by a foreign army. Everyone in their small town has,  they discover, been rounded up and are being held captive at the local fairgrounds.

They decide they have three choices 1) Turn themselves in and join their family in captivity. 2) Go back to their campsite  and live off of the land. 3) Stay where they are and wage a guerilla warfare campaign against this unknown army. Seven teenagers against an army.

What would you do if you were them?

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Elsewhere[1]When she wakes up, Liz Hall is dead. She doesn’t know it at the time. Just like she doesn’t know how she ended up in a room on a cruise ship with some stranger, a girl about her age sleeping in the next bed over. She doesn’t know where the ship is headed or why the captain is a seven-year-old boy.

It turns out she the ship is headed to a place called Elsewhere. This is the place you go when you die. It looks a like Earth. There are roads, houses, businesses, people, and pets. But there are some big differences too. Just like with our idea of Heaven, you will be reunited with people you know who died before you. Liz ends up seeing her grandmother. But you don’t stay in Elsewhere forever. Instead, you age backwards from the time you die until you are just seven days old when you are sent back to earth to be reborn as a totally different person.

Liz was only 15 when she died. That means that she will never graduate high school or college, become an adult, get married and have kids. She has to figure out how she will spend the next 15 years of her life.

Which is not to say that some of those things are not possible. There is a love story here but that is all I will say. To find out the rest, you will have to read the book.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

10426601Ed Kennedy is not most people’s idea of a hero. He is an underage taxi driver who spends most of his free time playing cards or soccer with his friends or hanging out with his dog, a seventeen-year-old, stinky Rottweiler-German shepherd who loves coffee named The Doorman. That’s it. Not much else except for the fact that he is also hopelessly in love with his friend Audrey.

Then one day while in line at the bank, an armed gunman shows up and Ed accidently foils the robbery. Ed makes the papers, his mom is proud of him and people recognize him in the streets for a short time. Then it’s back to his normal life.

That is until the first card showed up in the e-mail. This card is an Ace of Diamonds with three addresses and times written on it. [show an example in the book or on card]. No other information. Taking a chance, he decides to show up at the first time and place. There he finds a man who abuses his wife every night. He knows what he is meant to do.

He continues to get cards with places and times written on them and each one has a different type of task for him to perform. He doesn’t know what to expect until he gets there. But he figures it out. Soon enough he is no longer Ed Kennedy, loser. He is THE MESSENGER.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Icvr9781416912057_9781416912057_hr[1]t’s the near future and the United States has fought a second civil war. This time it was between members of the pro-choice and pro-life movements. They ended it with a compromise. Abortion of fetuses is illegal, but children between the age of 13 and 18 can be “unwound.” You, should your parents or the state decide, because you are out of control or no longer useful, could be sent to a facility and have all of your organs removed and transplanted to a donor who needs replacement organs. You are not technically murdered because you will live on in other people.


Conner is a troubled, rebellious boy whose parents have given up on him. Risa is a ward of the state. She is a talented pianist who is apparently not talented enough to make it past adolescence. And Lev is a tithe, a boy who has grown up knowing that his family’s obligation to God is not money to support a church, but instead the sacrifice of his life.

All three are about to be unwound.


Heir Apparent by Vivian Van Velde

heirapparentYou are the Heir Apparent. The king has died. You are only a peasant, and apparently the secret heir to the crown. You will be crowned in three days, that is, if you can make it there without getting killed by your half brothers, the queen, your future subjects, magic….

If you do get killed, then no problem. You can start the game over again. In the real world, it is sometime in the near future. You are a hooked up to a Total Immersion Virtual Reality game. Your brain is hooked up directly to the game. You smell the smells. You hear the sounds just like you are there. You have 30 minutes (or 3 days in the game) to make the right decisions, the right alliances, if you want to win the game.

But what kind of story would that be? Keep starting over until you win without any real consequences?

A group called Citizens to Protect our Children, a group who is protesting the virtual reality game, has broken into the building and damaged the machine running your game. The longer you are attached to the machine, the more you risk fatal overload. And that means death. Not just the death of your character, but your physical one too. And the only way to escape that fate is to win the game.



A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

anorthernlightIt is 1906. Mattie Gokey is a teenager girl in upstate rural New York. Think for a minute what her life would be like. Cars are very new and a luxury for the rich. Women can’t vote yet. Also, no televisions or cell phones, of course (expect groan here).

Her life revolves around working on the farm. Working the land, milking the cows, cooking and cleaning, taking care of her family. Certainly, there is no need to finish high school or go to college. At least, not if she wants a real life–get married, have kids. But she wants more than that.

She loves writing and wants to go to college and become a famous writer. Her teacher is even helping her apply to college in New York City.

But after her mother dies and her older brother leaves the farm after a fight with her father, she loses any hope of being able to follow that dream. She feels divided between loyalty to her family and continuing with school. Her father is struggling to make ends meet and her sisters are too young to be of much help on the farm. At least Royal Loomis, a big dumb (but very good looking) farmer, is interested in her, though she doesn’t know why. Are these her only choices? Get married to a local farmer or take care of her family?

When a summer job at the local resort hotel opens up, she sees a chance to earn enough money for school. But of course, it’s not that simple. There are her growing feelings for Royal, her responsiblity to her family. And then, just to complicate things, a murder at the hotel.



Impossible by Nancy Werlin

impossibleFor generations, the women in Lucy Scarborough’s family have been under a curse. According the legend of the curse, every girl in the family will become pregnant and have a baby girl at age 18. If they cannot solve three seemingly impossible puzzles before the birth of the baby, they will go completely insane.

It all started with her ancestor, a girl named Finella. The story goes that an elfin king fell in love with Finella and wanted to marry her, but she refused. Angered, the king cursed Finella and all of her female descendants.

Lucy is now 17 and there doesn’t seem to be any chance of her getting pregnant, especially without a boyfriend. But on the night of her high school prom, she is raped and becomes pregnant with a baby girl.

To break the curse, she has to solve three seemingly impossible tasks that are part of an old Scottish ballad. Here is part of the poem.

The Elfin Knight

…From the sting of my curse she can never be free

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Unless she unravels my riddlings three

She will be a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a magical shirt

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Without any seam or needlework

Else she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to find me an acre of land

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Between the salt water and the sea strand

Else she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to plow it with just a goat’s horn

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
And sow it all over with one grain of corn

Else she’ll be a true love of mine
And her daughters forever possessions of mine


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

ugliesIn the book Uglies, it is a few hundred years from now. All of our social problems have been taken care of. Not only have the scientists in this future figured out how to use technology to make sure everyone is housed and fed, they have also figured out how to make everyone equal. There is no judging people based on their appearance. No racism. The reason? Everyone looks like this [show slide of actors].

At the age of 16 everyone is required to get an operation that turns from an Ugly (normal) into a pretty. Plastic surgery turns you into the ideal beauty. At least the ideal in Hollywood and fashion magazines.

Tally Youngblood is going to turn in a few months. Like other Uglies, she enjoys riding on her hover board and playing pranks on her teachers and other adults. And of course she is looking forward to the operation that will turn her into a Pretty. They might shape her eyes, extend her legs, and raise her cheekbones. It is the event that every teenager looks forward to (not getting her driver’s license).

When you are turned into a Pretty, you spend the next few years attending parties and living a care-free life. Non-stop parties with the other Pretties in a nice apartment in New Pretty town.

Then she meets Shay who quickly becomes her closest friend. Shay doesn’t plan to get the operation. She tells Tally about a place called The Smoke. In The Smoke, people live without the technologies that have made life so easy and care-free where Tally lives. Smokies prepare their own food and live using the old ways. Most importantly, they don’t get the operation. Shay has offered to take her to the Smoke where she can meet the mysterious David, a boy who has lived his whole life there. Tally is not sure such a place really exists.

But The Smoke is a threat to the Pretties way of life. When the day for Tally’s operation arrives, instead of being going to the operating room, she is taken to the Department of Special Circumstances. She is given a choice: Go with Shay to the Smoke so the Specials can locate the colony or never get the operation.

This is her choice: Betray Shay and live the life she was meant to live or remain an Ugly forever.



Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link


Who knows why the monster didn’t eat James Lerber…right away…Maybe it was because he was a geeky kid from Chicago who thought monsters were cool and who didn’t want to go to camp in the first place. Maybe it was because the other guys made him wear a dress and he was covered in mud. Maybe it was because the monster was already too full after eating all of the campers in Barracks 4 and 6.

The Wrong Grave

He should never have gone back for the poems he had impulsively put in his dead girlfriends coffin, but Miles was one of those self-involved poet types. He had to try to dig up her grave almost a year later to try to get the poems back. Too bad it was  the wrong girl in the grave who then decided to follow him home so she could teach that idiot a lesson.



The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

absolutelytruediaryThe first day of school. Geometry Class. Arnold Spirit, also known as Junior, gets the Geometry book he is going to be using for the year. Inside the front cover it says:


He gets so mad that before he knows it, he throws the book at his teacher’s head. This is his depiction in a cartoon that drew. Why did he do it? Agnes Adams was his mother’s maiden name. His school on the Indian reservation where he lives is so poor that they have used the same textbook for at least the last 30 years.

Let me introduce to Arnold by reading you some of his diary:

Read first diary entry.

Arnold gets suspended for a week for throwing the book. When the same teacher shows up at his house that week, he thinks maybe the guy has come to throw a book at him too. Or at least to yell at him. But instead he offers Arnold a chance to attend the school in Reardon, the rich, white town near the reservation. It’s a great opportunity for him. He will get an excellent education and it may be his chance to achieve his dreams.

But when he starts school at Reardon, it’s obvious he is not welcome by everyone. He tells us there is only one other Indian at the school—the school mascot. The other kids are afraid of him, some call him names.

When he gets home, his best friend Rowdy and others, think he is a traitor for leaving the reservation.

This diary is about what happens next. Falling in love, playing basketball, trying to fit in and not get beat up. At school and at home.



Beastly by Alex Flinn

beastlyKyle Kingsbury is many things:

Popular , rich, good looking, smart.

But he is also arrogant, shallow and mean to anyone he considers beneath him.

So it is a big surprise when he asks Kendra, the new girl in his class, to a school dance. She is a goth chick with all black clothes, green hair and a long hooked nose.

But of course, it is all a cruel prank. He shows up with his girlfriend and makes Kendra feel like a fool.

What Kyle doesn’t know is that Kendra is a witch and she is going to teach him a lesson. She casts a spell and turns him into an hairy, ugly beast, with hair all over his body, fangs and claws.

She tells him that he has two years to try to get a girl to fall in love with him and to prove it with a kiss.

If he can’t, then he will remain a beast forever.