The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond
Unusual. Reminded me of the style of Lemony Snicket without the humor. Stanley Potts lives with his aunt and uncle until the uncle goes overboard canning fish. Through a complicated plot Stanley ends up with a traveling fair and meets the great Pancho Pirelli who swims in a tank of piranhas. This book is ridiculous in its own way and yet extremely touching. I loved it.
Sample: p152: Let's travel through the night and move closer to that place. How can we do this? you may well ask. But it's easy, isn't it? All it takes is a few words put into a few sentences, and a bit of imagination. We could go anywhere with words and our imaginations. We could leave this story altogether, in fact, and find some other story in some other part of the world, and start telling that one. But no. Maybe later. It's best not to leave our story scattered into fragments, so let's find them and start to gather them up,.

The Magnificent 12: The Call (Book ONe) by Michael Grant
Very much like a Rick Riordan book, but shorter. Good for slightly younger readers although it gets pretty scary at points. The humor is great in short lines like, Golem: Did you know you cannot eat cats? Each day I learn a little more. The plot alternates between Mack our hero and Grimluck, our 3000 year old hero. Lots of humor but also tense situations--vipers, dark monsters (truly Grant creepy), falling out of an airliner, dropped into a black pit. Hmm. Maybe not for younger readers. I'm really liking this though. 4th?+

Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn
Bought this totally trusting she would be her usual awesome authorness. It's not a murder or ghost story. But excellent nonetheless. Brendan is an outsider to Life as he sees it. He just doesn't fit in anywhere. He's a foster child from birth, has not friends, likes to draw and loves nature. That doesn't work in "real life" according to his foster mother, and teachers. Then he meets The Green Man and makes a friend, Shea. Reminds me a bit of Bridge to Terabithia. 4th+

Random by Tom Leveen
Tori Hershberger is due in court the next day. She will have to plead to manslaughter for her part in the suicide of a teen friend whom she harrassed on Facebook. She is tortured internally as well as harrassed by the world. Then she gets a midnight call from a stranger who claims he will commit suicide unless she can convince him not to. A bit forced. Plus I never was truly invested in Tori, and didn't believe she made any personal growth. Too bad. YA for language.

The Magnificent 12: the Trap by Michael Grant
I loved book one. This one continues to be entertaining although not quite up to the standard of the first. Traveling to China this time.4th+

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau
a fine conclusion to the trilogy. This had lots of twists. Who to trust? Everyone is lethal
.YA for violence

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger
The conclusion of the loooong Paper Yoda series. It was satisfactory if not awesome. This is mostly about a bus trip with 7th grade to Washington DC Lots of body humor etc. 4th+

Guys Read: The Sports Pages edited by Jon Scieszka
Short stories by famous people/writers. Gordon Korman's is my favorite about a middle school basketball trophy.

I am Malala: How one girl stood up for Education and Changed the World by Malal YOusafzai with Patricia McCormick
Absolutely suitable for 4th+. It is a clear recounting of Malala's life in Pakistan as a young girl and her survivial of a terrorist shooting. Inspiring. Some humor that makes her seem quite normal. Excellent.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Set in Monument Colorado, during a catastrophic hailstorm two schoolbuses seek refuge in the local Greenway (think Walmart). Starting with 14 students (half elementary) they do what is necessary to survive. Not pretty, but not overly gruesome either. YA for violence and sex. One couple tries, but are unsuccessful (for an interesting reason). They are Louis Palmer students--that has a great connection here. Good