“A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness

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Thirteen-year-old Conor wakes from a nightmare to find a monster waiting for him. The yew tree in his yard has transformed into a wooden man bristling with twigs and branches. The monster says over the coming weeks it will tell Conor three stories and then Conor will tell the monster his own story.

Conor’s life becomes more and more bizarre — he spends his nights listening to the monster’s strange, confusing stories while dealing with a sick mother and a school bully in the daytime. Slowly he begins to understand the meaning behind the monster’s stories and come to terms with the story burning inside him — the story he swore never to tell anyone.

This book is a thing of painful beauty. Jim Kay’s stark black, white and grey images of the monster add to the books atmospheric creepiness and sadness. The story was inspired by the final idea of now-deceased young adult author Siobhan Dowd (author of “Solace of the Road” and other books). The book’s emotional, no-holds-barred examination of grief combines beautifully with its celebration of the power of story.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Imaginary Girls” by Nova Ren Suma

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Everything changed the night fourteen-year-old Chloe found London’s dead body floating in a boat in the reservoir. Until that night, Chloe’s universe orbited around the sun that was her magical older sister, Ruby. London’s death made Chloe worry about meeting a similar fate if she continued along her current path. So Chloe moved away to live a normal life with her father.

Two years later, Ruby comes to find her, to invite her back to their hometown and start over again. When Chloe comes back, Ruby is just as magnetic as ever. Chloe soon loses herself in the magical world Ruby creates where men make themselves her slaves, drowned ghosts lurk in the reservoir and London never died. Chloe struggles to understand how her sister performed this miracle but the deeper she digs, the more confused she becomes. Can Chloe and Ruby exist in this bizarre world forever — or will Ruby’s magical creation start coming apart at the seams?

This story has a strong literary voice, a haunting setting and a page-turning plot that will keep readers guessing until the last page. The relationship between the two sisters is unique and well-drawn. My favorite part of the book is its magical realism tone: it is neither paranormal nor realistic, skillfully walking a fine line between the two. This story would especially appeal to fans of psychological horror movies and video games, for its sustained creepy atmosphere and imagery.

Check out this book or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Magic Under Glass” by Jaclyn Dolamore

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Nimira is a stranger in a strange land, an exotic, foreign “trouser girl” who sings in a dance hall to earn a meager living. When sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with an automaton piano player at concerts, she sees this as her chance to move up in the world. But Hollin’s house is full of mysterious secrets, and Nimira’s place in the world seems more uncertain than ever.

Nimira discovers that the automaton piano player who accompanies her is actually a fairy imprisoned in a clockwork body. Despite their limited ability to converse, she soon falls in love with Erris, the imprisoned fairy prince. Her desire to save Erris gives her the courage to explore all of Hollin Parry’s secrets — but will she be able to survive the dangerous magic she stirs up in her exploration?

Jaclyn Dolamore’s style is irresistable — old-fashioned romance reminiscent of Jane Austen combined with fairies, magic and a unique fantasy world. This story is especially perfect for readers who want a satisfying teen romance without sexual content.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Give Up the Ghost” by Megan Crewe

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Ever since her sister died, Cass McKenna has been able to see Paige’s ghost — as well as other ghosts at her school and around town. The best thing about hanging out with ghosts? They won’t dump her like her so-called best friend did, and they can dig up all kinds of dirt on the jerks at Cass’s high school.

When Cass gets to know a popular boy named Tim, her perceptions about the privileged crowd begin to change. She begins to realize that, though she was bullied in the past, now she has turned into somewhat of a bully herself. Can Cass work past her own hurt and loss, stop using the ghosts’ information to blackmail people, and reach out to Tim when he needs a friend?

Author Megan Crewe visited the library in early 2011 to talk about her debut novel. This book is great for provoking discussion about the afterlife, bullying and friendship. It is also a breath of fresh air: a paranormal story that features a friendship, not a romance, between a girl and a boy. Highly recommended for reluctant readers because of the fascinating paranormal elements and the level, non-hokey exploration of topics such as bullying and peer pressure.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Okay For Now” by Gary Schmidt

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Fourteen-year-old Doug’s life is going down the toilet. His abusive father moves the family to a new town where they live in a house Doug names “The Dump.” His older brother is severely injured in the Vietnam War. And his middle brother is accused of stealing — which makes everyone in the new town assume Doug is also a hoodlum.

Despite the odds stacked against him, Doug is determined to thrive. He discovers a love for drawing when he sees an Audubon book on display at his local library. With the help of sympathetic teachers, he overcomes illiteracy and discovers an innate talent for science and math. This heartwarming, emotional story follows Doug in his day to day life and leaves readers cheering for him and hoping he is able to overcome all the obstacles in his path. One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that even those who seem to be the worst villains have the opportunity to be redeemed. And despite his upbringing and the unfair perceptions of others, Doug is determined to see the good in others and work to make the world a better place. Though this brief description may make this sound like a saccharine, feel-good story, Doug’s tough-guy voice makes it a very grounded, accessible book for boy or girl readers from ages 10-14.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake

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Cas Lowood is not your typical high school student. He moves from place to place, hunting down murderous ghosts and banishing them with a magical knife left to him by his dead father. With quite a few kills under his belt, he feels almost ready to take on the ghost that murdered his father. He just wants to hone his skills with one more job: taking down Anna Dressed in Blood.

When he meets Anna, she’s as terrifying as everyone described her — wearing a dress dripping in blood, her eyes like black oil slicks, her hair writhing in the air like a living creature itself. But there’s something different about Anna. And even though Cas watches her murder someone in front of his eyes, he can’t help noticing that there are two Annas: the murderous beast and the lost girl trapped inside her.

With the help of new friends Carmel and Thomas, Cas seeks to unravel the mystery of Anna Dressed in Blood. The more time he spends with the ghost, the more he falls in love with her. Can he separate the girl he loves from the monster that consumes her?

There are so many things to love about this book. It’s a genuinely creepy ghost story full of humorous moments. It’s a love story. It’s a mystery. It has a strong emotional plot, compelling main characters and great side characters. Kendare Blake balances all these elements so well and creates a story that draws the reader in and keeps them hooked. If you’re looking for a scary read to recommend to your teens, keep this one in your Reader’s Advisory arsenal.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

– Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“The Looking Glass Wars” by Frank Beddor

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It seems that Beddor has uncovered the truth. Children all over the world have been told only the “nice historical version” of Alice’s adventures as written by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland — and what a fantastical tale it was! But as we all know, there comes a time when adults must push the happy children’s tales aside and reveal to their maturing children the truth of the matter. Unless, of course, they’d prefer that their children learn the truth on the streets! Children will not be duped forever. Now, for the first time, the whole truth of Alice’s adventures comes to light.

First of all, Alice’s name is really Alyss Heart. It seems that someone went to great lengths to conceal Alyss’s identity — for her own good, I’m sure. Now, you finally get to read the full scope of Alyss’s adventures from her forbidden childhood romance, her willful nature, her struggle and loss of control of Wonderland, her escape to our world, her troubled childhood as an orphan in both worlds, her struggle with her destiny as Wonderland’s rightful queen and her eventual return and fight to reclaim her rightful place as the new Queen of Hearts.

So, you think I told you too much? You think I spoiled the ending? Ah, but that’s the beauty of this book. You can’t know the outcome of this tale until you get there. This story is even more fantastical in its telling than the well-known children’s version we all grew up with.

Happy reading!

Check this book out or put it on hold.

Also check out Book 2, “Seeing Redd” and Book 3, “ArchEnemy.”

– Kimberly Bower