Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King (2004) --- I love the Stephanie Plum audiobooks. I started reading this series in grad school for an Adult Pop Lit class, and I got hooked. It's my guilty pleasure, and I usually read 1-2 a year (otherwise they get too repetitive). This one was the most dangerous yet, I think. Stephanie manages to tick off a high-profile gang member and now there is a hit on her. Of course she survives, but it gets pretty intense! As always, Lula and Grandma Mazur (and Stephanie's lack of common sense) provide for some comic relief. And Stephanie's love life is a mess - this one's for Ranger fans.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012 debut) --- A science fiction Cinderella story?! Oh, how I love thee! Cinder is a delightful little cyborg living in New Beijing with her stepmother and stepsisters. She's a talented mechanic who's hired by Prince Kai himself to fix his personal android. All the while, a plague is spreading through the city, and medical testing for a cure now includes willing cyborgs - since they're not considered fully human. There's a lot going on in this story, but it's so NEW and FRESH and just lovely. Even if you're not a fan of science fiction, if you like a good fairy tale retelling, check this one out. But I suspect many of you already have. Although I think this could have been a standalone novel, I can't wait to read more in the series!
Yummy: The Last Days of Southside Shorty by G. Neri (2010) --- From Goodreads:
In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer [...] fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. [...] The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty relives the confusion of these traumatic days from the point of view of Roger, a neighborhood boy who struggles to understand the senseless violence swirling through the streets around him. Awakened by the tragedy, Roger seeks out answers to difficult questions — was Yummy a killer or a victim? Was he responsible for his actions or are others to blame?
The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker (2012 debut) --- I don't read a whole lot of contemporary realistic fiction, but the cover and title of this one reeled me in. Though I've never lived in Kentucky, my best friend is from there, so I felt like Whitaker's description of this small, southern town was just right. I suppose it helps that she's from there too. The story is about a girl who is just starting public high school after going to a private school for her elementary days. She doesn't want to be seen as a country bumpkin, so she changes her style and joins the cheerleading squad - she just wants to fit in, and most of all, be popular. Yes, it's one of those stories. And I enjoyed it just fine. It's nice to see a change of scenery in this book - I've certainly grown tired of the Upper East Side trend. And the main character has spunk and a real personality that I grew to like, even if I didn't appreciate her decision-making skills.
The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler (2011) --- Gosh, I wanted to like this book so much. It had such a great premise! Imagine the year is 1996, you've just logged onto AOL for the first time, and a window pops up that says it's Facebook. It has your name, your birthday, a picture of someone who could be you in 15 years, and a bunch of personal postings about what you're having for dinner or how your marriage is failing. Fantastic idea, right? Except that the main characters, Josh and Emma, are absolutely annoying - Emma, especially. All she cares about is who she's going to marry in 15 years. Really... really?! If you found a portal to the future, is that honestly the only thing you want to know? I like that all of their decisions affected their Facebook status and altered the future - I just wish it didn't all revolve around the husband issue. Teens think about WAY more than that, my goodness.
The Limit by Kristen Landon (2010) --- Hmm, quite a lot of science fiction this month. I was excited about this book because it's a dystopia that my 5th graders would enjoy, and I haven't seen too many of these for younger MG readers. In this book, families are not allowed to accrue any debt, and if they do, their teenagers may be whisked away to work off the debt. Matt's mother accidentally goes slightly over their limit one day while grocery shopping with the kids, and as soon as they get home, there are people ready to take Matt away to the government facility where he will work. Matt's a smart kid, so he gets a high-paying job on the top floor of this building, but he starts to notice that something is not quite right about this place...