The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
by the author of Breadcrumbs. I didn't really like breadcrumbs but gave this one a try. Didn't get it. Oscar is the magician's "hand", not his apprentice. Just a boy. He doesn't really understand how to talk to people, but he is fine just doing his job, gathering, sorting, grinding and organizing the magician's plants. But things start going very wrong and he has to make some sense in his head with the help of the healer's apprentice Callie. There is a horrific monster in this as well as several murders. I was drawn into the story but the whole world philosophy here never made sense to me. Just not my style I guess. mature 5th graders might read this.

Turn Left at the Cow by Lisa Bullard
Travis flees his not-quite-family in California to find out about his mysterious father who disappeared before he was born. But in Minnesota he finds out he is suspect of having some knowledge about the money that went missing at the same time as his father. This is a fine murder/treasure/find yourself mystery with a strong flavor of rural Minnesota. Well-done. 4th+

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
excellent for middle school. This one kept me reading into the night with enough interest to give me Book Hangover! Twins Giselle and Ingrid find that they have inherited the castle of the Frankensteins. Guided loosely by their uncle (Victor's brother) they decide to invite intellectual aristocracy to their coming out. Ingrid follows her father's writing until she discovers what he has done. This follows Shelley's story well and then adds multiple complications of romance, strong women, and deep mysteries. Not for the feint of heart. YA for violence and sexual threats.

Magnificent 12: The Power by Michael Grant
Final episode of the 12 unlikely heroes who save the world from the evil Pale Queen. This has the same humorous dialogue and author thoughts, and plenty of action. There are a few tender moments although not at the level of How to Train Your Dragon. This wraps everything up in a totally incredible (literally unbelievable) way. Good for younger readers. 4th+

Odd, Weird & Little by Patrick Jennings
Odd indeed! Since large print beginning chapter books are hard to find, I appreciate having this one, but truly weird. Woodrow has always been the brunt of bullying until very small Toulousse shows up in his suit and hat and gloves. This is OK, but I never bought the premise. Toulousse actually talks. And he's good at painting, music and volleyball. hmm. 2nd grade.

When by Victoria Laurie (negalley)
There are a couple of pretty intense and scary moments (involving a serial killer of course there would be), but I liked the dialogue and internal conflict here. Maddie can see people's deathdates written on their foreheads. What she does with this as well as the suspicion that is pointed at her makes this a tense but satisfying read. I like this one a lot. YA for torture, and murder.

Wild Rover No More by L A Meyer
I cried because there won't be anymore Jacky Faber stories! An especially satisfying ending to a very very long series. Once again the story starts with everything peachy and then quite suddenly Jacky is fleeing from federal marshalls who accuse her of being a traitor. First she hides as a governess for a spoiled horrible boy and his sweet sister. Then she literally runs away to the circus where she performs as a tightrope walker and occasionally as an exotic dancer. But she has to face the noose. poor Jaimy. YA for lusty references, discussions of nudity, some violence

Boys of Blur by N. D. Wilson
Well, this one was a surprise. That's what I get for not reading reviews first. The blurb led me to suspect a murder mystery, not a wild paranormal battle! What is it about the sugar cane fields? This is True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp ramped up by a hundred. Talk about mashup. Race, family disfunction, football, zombies, Beowulf...my favorite line comes from Cotton "Read a book, yo!" after Charlies says he doesn't even know what a baskerville is. The descriptive language is deep. It's not for everyone. Could compare to The Night Gardner. More than a little creepy scary. For very mature 5th graders+ good good good

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell
With skeletal plot lines of Sleeping Beauty, this is a detailed account of a cursed castle that is somehow to be mended by Sand, a village boy who wants more than anything to be a smithy. Sand wakes up inside the local castle that no one has bothered with in twenty years since it's surrounded by deadly thorns. Everything inside is totally dead and sundered in half. The pace of the story as Sand discovers more about the castle and finally the resurrection of Perrotte, the castle's heir is perfect. I liked this although it's hard to imagine the actual student reader. Not YA. But for a very mature reader due to difficult vocabulary. The blacksmithing part was excellent. 5th+ very good.

Confessions the Paris Mysteries by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
I picked this up next because I remembered it being a light read. Wrong. This is one of those depressing Big Evil Corporation vs good hearted teen genius. Tandy and her brothers are in Paris after being exonerated of their parents murder, but danger lurks everywhere. The first chapter is pure tween lust writing (Oh, the electricity...etc) which turns pretty sour later. Lots of foreshadowing and red herrings. Pretty scary at times (even when we know the main character can't die--she can be hurt pretty badly.) No resolution here either. Evil Uncle Pig is still out to get everyone. YA for sex (implied) and murder.

The Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan
Odd. Sort of fantasy but no magic in the story, just time travel. But the elements of everyone being required to wear gloves always, and then stolen children in Gulm just seem too much like fantasy. Josephine Russing lives in a loveless world until Fargus appears from her shed. She falls through a wormhole as she looks for him and becomes the key to delivering the children of Gulm from the evil Master and his Brothers (monsters). The "edge" in this may be just too edgy for me. And I don't get the ending yet. It certainly kept me hooked but not a prime choice for me. 5th+ meh.