The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel Grace Lancaster meets Augustus Waters at a Cancer Kid Support Group. Dying isn't fun and this is an honest but not maudlin look at the emotions reflected in Hazel Grace's life after Gus (AG) Of course it's incredibly moving (how could it not be?), but it's also thoughtful (sometimes so deep as to be wall-smackingly dense). I read it to see if it was middle school appropriate and I'm still stymied, but not for the reason I expected. There is a sexual scene described without lust, just tenderness. But the philosophy parts are not for the immature. YA

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Maisy Danger Brown was living a normal life when she was chosen to go to a space camp from a cereal box contest. From that point she will be the champion that saves the world from an invasion of body snatchers. (seriously--they are hooked on experiencing the pleasure of having a body). This is pretty good science fiction with some romance--is the hottie a good guy or a creep? The Goodreads reviews are all or nothing, love/hate. It was OK and can be intermediate. Some icky violence. 5th+

The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin
This goes with the Tully series. Four short, yellow, fuzzy chicks solve a mystery brought to them by a fainting squirrel. Great first chapter book. Yet funny even for me. The squirrel is hilarious--he repeats things three time with each time in more caps: not the dog. Not the DOG. NOT THE DOG. and the mention of a new shade of gray was just for adult readers. Funny, smart and simple. Great, GREAT. K+

The One by Kiera Cass
Book three of The Selection series. America is left with only three others for the hand of Prince Maxon. This has a satisfying conclusion but it dragged for me. Too much "romance" not enough intrigue and conflict. The political scene begged for more exposition. Meh. YA for girl stuff.

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket
This reminded me of reading Encyclopedia Brown but with a weird twist full of allusions. The grocery is Partial Foods--that one is obvious. Here's my favorite quote: p44: "Stew Mitchum was on the other side (of the counter). Think of something noble and true, like a librarian, or a good crisp apple or a sweater that doesn't itch, and then think of the opposite, and that's Stew Mitchum" Lots of great vocabulary words with their definition. "in a pinch" is a phrase which here means "in a difficult situation," and a pinched voice is a whiny and nervous one. But neither of these pinches was the pinch I was thinking of. p28. subtle humor good for 4th+

Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
These have gotten so massive and so many characters. Takes a while for me to catch up. Typical riordan--death defying craziness page after page. He does lighten things up quite a bit with some of the dialog with various monsters. The kids are older now (16ish) and romance is getting more serious, but this is still aimed at upper elementary. Short review of the story- the Roman and Greek camps still don't trust each other but a mix of 7 heroes must complete their quests to save the world from Gaia, evil earth goddess. In particular Annabeth must complete some resolution for her mother Athena. And the others must go to Rome to save Nico. Scary parts are pretty scary--not for sensitive readers.

House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Whew. These are sooooo looooong. Not as scary as I thought. They are in the underworld with gobs of monsters and creepy things. So many Greek and Roman names. This takes some serious concentration that I wasn't willing to invest. The story moves back and forth between Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus and the rest of the gang in Greece/Rome following clues to get to the doors of Hades. The best part for me was the growth in understanding of relationships, especially with Bob the Titan. Sweet. 4th+

Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner
Helen of Troy grows from a precocious child to a headstrong young teen. Across three city-states Helen grows in understanding what she can do as a woman who will someday rule Sparta. Lots of intrigue and fighting. References to Greek gods, but not as heavy as Riordan. YA for violence and some sexual references. Good.