2010 Close Calls

There were more than 15 great books written last year and we had a hard time narrowing down our list. In order to share some of these books with you, we present our Close Calls. These are the titles we loved and fought for, but in the end there could only be 15.

So, while you wait for the winner to be announced on April 1, enjoy some of these of other amazing books that didn’t quite make the nominee list.

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

The day Micheal’s friend Tommy mysteriously disappears is also the same day his English teacher Mr. Haberman starts acting strange.  Mr. Haberman brings to class a large bag of… something… and makes the students guess what it could be.  Micheal and his friends, all in the remedial class at their high school, think they know what was in the bag—Tommy.

As they are forced to read Crime and Punishment in Mr. Haberman’s class and Tommy remains missing, the boys’ suspicions about Mr. Haberman grow.  Before long, they become obsessed with proving that Mr. Haberman killed Tommy and avenging their friend’s death.

Gentlemen is an eerie look at what happens when people jump to conclusions and take revenge too far.  The characters of Micheal and his misfit friends are realistic and intriguing.  Readers will sympathize with the characters and might even be convinced of their flawed reasoning, while still maintaining a feeling that something isn’t right.

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Terra seems to have it all – she’s blonde, slender, and athletic, has a great boyfriend, and is a talented artist.  But none of it is enough to make her perfect, especially in her father’s eyes.  Born with a port-wine birthmark that covers her right cheek, Terra has spent her entire life covering up and distracting people from her face.  And most of the time, it works – except when she’s at home.  Her dad, a once-famous cartographer, takes out his anger at his failures on his family with sneering insults.  Her mom is his favorite target, who has buried her unhappiness in food and her desperation to ‘fix’ her daughter’s face.

And then Terra meets Jacob. He doesn’t seem to care what other people think about him- not about his Goth clothes and make-up, not about the scar on his upper lip, and not about the fact that his mom’s white and he’s an adopted Chinese boy. He seems confident and fearless, and when she’s with him, Terra begins to feel like maybe she could be too.

When Terra and her mom are given the opportunity to travel to China with Jacob and his mom, Terra knows they have to go. Not only is it the one continent her dad won’t go (there’s no way he’d ever go to China, the source of the map that crashed his career), she knows there’s something waiting for her and her mom outside the boundaries of their suffocating world. But will they both be brave enough to take the first steps?

This is a powerful read about what it really means to be beautiful, perfect, and loved.  Terra and her mom’s journey toward hope, with the help of Jacob and his awesome mom, is one you shouldn’t miss!

 Posted by: Megan on March 18, 2010  

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Belly (short for Isabel) has spent every summer since she was little with Conrad and Jeremiah at their beach house.  Growing up, Belly was often excluded as the only girl, but the summer she turns sixteen, she knows things will change.  Belly has harbored a crush on Conrad for years.  But of the brothers, it’s Jeremiah who starts to show interest, while Conrad begins to act differently and pulls away from everyone.  Amidst shifting friendships, family problems, and first love, Belly learns how quickly everything really can change.

Beautifully told, The Summer I Turned Pretty is interspersed with stories of previous summers that intensify your connection with Belly, Jeremiah, and Conrad.  Look for the second book in the series, It’s Not Summer Without You, coming in April.

Posted by: Tiffany on March 15, 2010

Surface Tension by Brent Runyon

Summer is a time of freedom, escape and for Luke and his parents their yearly two-week trip to a cabin in upstate New York. At 13 Luke cannot wait to get to the there, run to the water, fish and do everything he’s always done. At 14, he starts to see their cabin neighbors differently. At 15, he brings his good friend Steven to the place that means the most to him in the world, and at 16 he is in love and heartbroken in two short weeks.

Surface Tension is sparsely told in four summers of Luke’s life. While not much changes on the surface at their summer cottage, so much is going as each year brings new adventures, injuries, and changes in Luke’s life.

There might not be a big quest, or a lot of adventure, but this quiet book will surprise you with the insight to growing up and how much things can change in four short years.

Posted by: Katie on March 11, 2010

Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has been in love with his next-door-neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman almost his entire life.  As children they were best friends, but now as seniors in high school they hang out with different crowds and rarely spend time together.  Then one night a month before graduation Margo convinces Quentin to spend the night getting revenge on all the people who have wronged her and having a little fun in the process.

Quentin believes his wild adventure with Margo will change their relationship.  However, the next day Quentin discovers that Margo has disappeared and left him clues about where she has gone.  Quentin spends the next month trying to decipher Margo’s clues.  In the process of trying to track Margo down, Quentin also discovers a darker side to Margo that he never knew about.

Paper Towns is an interesting look at what teen crushes really are.  As Quentin learns about Margo he begins to realize (well, maybe his friends realize it more than him) that she isn’t really the person he always believed her to be.  Because of his feelings for her, Quentin overlooked Margo’s flaws and had a warped view of reality.  Filled with humor, adventure, and mystery, Paper Towns is the winner of the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten Vote sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

Posted by: Emily on March 8, 2010

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Rose and her twelve younger sisters are cursed.  Each night, they must descend into the depths of the earth to dance for the evil King Under Stone, doomed to become the brides of his twelve half-human sons.  Even worse, they are prevented by the curse to speak of where they go each night, and a sleeping spell enchants all those who try to stay in the princesses’ room.

Galen is a soldier recently returned from the war.  Now working as a gardener in the royal palace, he finds himself falling in love with Rose.  Desperate to help her, he decides to break the curse, though many of the princes who have tried have failed – and ended up dead after mysterious accidents.  With only the help of an invisibility cloak, two skeins of yarn, and the under-gardener Walter’s knowledge of the magical qualities of plants, will Galen be able to save Rose and her sisters?  Or will they be forever doomed to dance for the King Under Stone?

This sweetly romantic fairy tale retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses enchants from the first page.  Lovely and lyrical, this story about the power of true love, friendship and family is definitely one to add to your reading list.

Posted by: Megan on March 1, 2010

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Raised by a single mom and her aunt and grandmother, Quinn is a good girl; she’s reliable, dates a safe (if boring) guy, and does well in school.  But a turn of events that involves Quinn’s father has her lying to her mom, going on a road trip with a half sister she doesn’t know, and stealing from her father.

When Quinn discovers her father has stolen important and often sentimental treasures from the many women he’s dated, she makes the difficult decision to steal them back.  Setting out on a road trip to right her father’s wrongs, Quinn bonds with her half sister and better understands the importance of family, meets a wonderful guy with a tremendous heart, and learns about the perils and delights of love.

Posted by: Tiffany on March 1, 2010

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