Princess of the Midnight Ball


Title: Princess of the Midnight Ball

Author:  Jessica Day George

Summary:  After twelve years of war, the country Westfalin has finally managed a victory.  It’s a grim victory with the country deeply in debt to her allies and many soldiers lost.  As the King attempts to raise the spirits of his countrymen, a palace mystery begins to create more strife for the entire country.  It has been discovered that every third night the King’s twelve daughters disappear for hours and return exhausted with worn out dancing slippers.  Unbeknownst to all,  the princesses have been cursed to travel deep into the earth and dance with the King Under Stone’s twelve sons .  Cursed so that they are unable to speak about the forced midnight balls, the princesses must continue to dance through exhaustion and illness. 

In hopes of winning the hand of one of the princesses, princes from neighboring countries travel to Westfalin to try to solve the mystery.  All who try meet with failure and the future for the princesses looks bleak as they are now forced to dance every night.  But then a brave young soldier, Galen, comes to town and starts work in the king’s garden.  There he meets the eldest princess, Rose, and is moved to action by her misery.  Armed with an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles, and a little magically assistance Galen attempts to solve the mystery and break the curse that holds the princesses enslaved. 

Who will like this book?  Fans of fairy tales and romantic adventures.

If you like this, try this:  Beastly by Alex Flinn, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate Dicamillo, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President


Title: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be your Class President

Author: Josh Lieb

Summary:  Can you imagine what it must be like to be the third richest person in the world?  Oliver Watson owns land in all fifty states and most of the capitalist countries in the world.  He owns investment banks, baseball teams, mines, plantations, a movie studio, two television networks, and three newspaper syndicates.   He is powerful enough to instigate the overthrow of a dictator of an African nation for personal reasons having nothing to do with setting the world right. 

Oliver Watson is exactly what the title of this book states – an evil genius – he is also a seventh grade middle school student.  He has used his intelligence to create a fortune.  He’s also used that same intelligence and fortune to rig his middle school up to cater to his every desire from a secret root beer dispensing button on the water fountain and a heated bus seat to the development of a secret chemical, Lazopril.   When released on a person Lazopril saps all hostility from them and gives them sudden intense flatulence.  Oliver even has three secret bodyguards within the school, so secret, in fact, that even Oliver isn’t sure of their exact identities.  

You may wonder the reason behind the necessity of Lazopril and bodyguards.  Why would anyone tease or bully the biggest evil genius in the world?  That question is best answered by looking to Oliver’s assumed alter ego, the dumbest kid in the whole school.  Oliver’s act is so perfect that it is going to take some work to get him elected as the 8th grade class president.  Why does the greatest evil genius in the world want to be class president?  For that answer you will have to read the book.

Who will like this?:  Anyone who has a bit of a wicked sense of humor  and those who are ready to graduate from the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series.  Oliver has the same air of superiority coupled with a dose of condescension for his peers, but unlike Greg Heffley. Oliver actually has the brains to back it up. 

If you like this, try this: Evil Genius series by Catherine Jinks,  N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society series by Michael Buckley, and H.I.V.E. : Higher Institute of Villainous Education series by Mark Walden

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian



Title: Pop

Author:  Gordon Korman

Summary:  In the dead of summer, Marcus is uprooted by his mother and moved to the small town of Kennesaw.   The one saving grace of the move is that Marcus will have the chance to try-out for the championship winning Raiders, the local high school football team.  With dreams of making it on the team, Marcus heads to the local park every day to practice his quarterbacking skills.   One day during his solitary practice, Marcus meets an older man, Charlie, who behaves a bit bizarrely but is the best football player Marcus has ever seen.  Charlie teaches him to embrace the “pop” that comes from a good tackle and how to pull off some amazing pranks. 

It isn’t until school starts that Marcus learns his new practice friend is Charlie Popovich or “The King of Pop” as he was nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker.  Unfortunately, by that time Marcus has already clashed heads with the starting quarterback of the Raiders and son of Charlie, Troy Popovich.  Troy wants Marcus to stay away from his Dad, his team, and his ex-girlfriend Alyssa.  Marcus fights for his position on the team and keeps practicing with Charlie.  But Marcus has figured out there is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide.  Marcus wants to help his friend, but is he willing to risk everything to do it?

Who will like this?:  While football is prominently featured in this story, a love of the game or even an understanding of it, isn’t necessary for enjoyment of the story.  It is the characters of Marcus and Charlie that are truly the center of this story.   There are serious issues presented in this book, but Korman injects some humor into the story. 

If you like this, try this: Anything else by Gordon Korman or Mike Lupica

Recommended by:  Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

The Compound


Title: The Compound

Author: S.A. Bodeen

Summary:  Six years ago, during a suspected nuclear attack, Eli and his family made a mad dash for the their underground Compound.  Unfortunately, Eli’s twin brother and Grandmother didn’t make it before the door was sealed with a lock that isn’t set to open for another fifteen years.  Eli now exists in the compound that was planned and stocked by his brilliant, billionaire father, but no amount of planning can eliminate the dull routine his life has become or the all-consuming guilt he feels over leaving his twin.  As food begins to run in short supply, Eli begins to question some of his father’s actions and realizes that he must take responsibility for his family if they are to survive the Compound. 

Who will like this book?:  Any reader who is able to suspend doubt in the far-fetched premise will eagerly fly through this suspenseful fast-paced story. 

If you like this, try this: The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Gone by Michael Grant.

Recommended by:  Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian



Title: Epic

Author: Conor Kostick

Summary:There is no violence in Erik’s world, only Epic. The global online multiplayer game allows people to create avatars to fight against one another and settle grievances. But Epic is more than just a game. It’s politics. Run by Central Allocations, a group of the richest, most powerful players, they lead a corrupt system that dictates the lives of everyone else.

Fed up with the difficulties his family faces, Erik creates a new type of character. He creates a girl named Cindella with only beauty instead of the typical fighter/elf/magician. But there’s something special about Cindella. When she starts getting attention from NPs (and not for her looks), Eric knows he’s onto something. Teaming up with his group of friends, they set off to fight dragons, find treasure, and slay the corrupt Central Allocations once and for all.

Who will like this book?: Boys and girls who enjoy discovering virtual worlds will find Epic to be a must-read. It’s packed full of adventure and has the interesting twist of a male player with a female avatar. The game system is well described but you don’t need to be a technician to understand the way this excellent sci-fi novel works.

If you like this, you should try: Saga, the sequel to Epic. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde, 1/2 Prince(manhwa), The 39 Clues series, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Walls of the Universeby Paul Melko, The Game by Dianna Wynne Jones

Recommended by:ZZ, Fairfield resident and avid reader

Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie


Title: Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

Author: Jordan Sonnenblick

Summary:  Eighth-grader Steven Alper is a rock star drummer, at least according to his annoyingly cute five-year-old brother.  The same cute brother that is the star of Steven’s English class journal entry exploring  the topic “The Most Annoying Thing in the World.”   Add the annoying brother with a crush on an unattainable girl, an occasionally irritating best friend,  a love of drums, and the regular school drama and you have Steven’s life. 

That is until the day Steven’s brother falls from a bar stool while Steven is making him breakfast and develops a nose bleed that just won’t stop.  The reason behind that non-stop nose bleed will change the lives of everyone in the Alper family and will lead to the most difficult year of their lives.  Steven struggles with the lack of parental attention and rebels against school, but through it all he maintains his quirky sense of humor and a pretty good heart. 

Who will like this book ?:  Those who like drama but can also appreciate a clever character who handles that drama with a bit of humor.

If you like this, try this: Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick,  Deadline by Chris Crutcher, or Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.

Recommended by: Jen, Branch Teen Librarian

Life As We Knew It



Title:  Life As We Knew It

Author:Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary:  Have you ever gotten about half-way through a book and were struck with the almost irresistible impulse to flip to those last few pages –  and you fight that impulse for the rest of the book?   The impulse is born not out of  the need to finish some mega-hit bestseller before someone spoils the ending for you, but rather because you are so invested in this story and in these character’s lives that you need to know what happens to them.  Author Susan Beth Pfeffer has created one such story in Life As We Knew It. 

Miranda, a sixteen year old high school student, records the usual teen woes – step-parent issues, friend problems, massive crush on an unattainable local Olympic hopeful, etc. – in her diary.  Along with the rest of the world she thinks nothing of it when it becomes known that a meteor is about to crash into the moon.  With unconcealed excitement people around the world wait to see this once in a lifetime astronomical event, but the scientists were wrong about the potential outcome of the meteor crash.  

No one could have imagined that life on earth would change so drastically:  Massive tsunamis, newly erupting volcanoes, and earthquakes strike throughout the world and with a ripple effect, touch the lives of everyone on the planet.  Through Miranda’s diary we experience the horror of these disasters and how she and her family must change if they are to survive this new world.

Who would like this book?:  Don’t be fooled by the science fiction set-up – you won’t find a truly in-depth scientific explanation as to the how’s-and-whys leading to this natural disaster.  Rather, this book’s focus is on self-examination and relationships with family and the world around oneself.   This book’s universal appeal is that it builds off of a question most of us have asked of ourselves – “If a disaster struck, how would I react?”

If you like this, try this: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Recommended by: Jennifer, Branch Teen Librarian