Mr. Oswald offers two suddenly vacant spots at Camp Fielding, “America’s best new educational summer camp,” to Lucas (slacker with criminal tendencies) and Jenna (weirdo underachiever). Their parents jump at the opportunity. After arriving, their electronics are confiscated and both must deal with bullies in their cabins. Luckily they avoid eating the cafeteria’s gray goop. Sneaking away through the woods to buy snacks, they find a mysterious building filled with feather-covered kids. The counselors try to explain it away, but then brainwashed campers start cawing like crows.
Why I picked it up: I never really liked camp, and the cover’s clone-like, smiling campers told me the book supported my point-of-view.
Why I finished it: Giant, veiny forehead zits that are much more than grotesquely clogged pores.
I'd give it to: 6th grade campers who, for a week during the school year, endure outdoor education at Camp Waskowitz where I learned 1) puberty is a less-than-ideal time to shower with friends 2) I’m allergic to every plant in the woods and 3) fun isn’t very fun when it happens on a tight schedule.
Eight years ago, fugitive slave and notorious criminal Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey stole a Confederate dirigible and rechristened it the Free Crow. Then recently, in Seattle, Felton Brink stole Captain Hainey's airship and headed east. Hainey wants his ship back. He and his crew are chasing it over the Rockies and heading toward the Mississippi and the Mason-Dixon line.
Belle Boyd, actress, widow, and former Confederate spy, has just been hired by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. She is ordered to make sure Brink delivers his cargo to Louisville. She’s free to shoot or seduce whomever she chooses, as long as she completes in her assignment. Stopping Hainey and his men seems like the surest way to succeed.
Why I picked it up: I love short novels. This one is a companion to Priest's Boneshaker, which I enjoyed a great deal.
Why I finished it: I thought I had the book figured out, but there's a logical, enjoyable, and unexpected change of direction when Belle Boyd meets Captain Hainey. I also couldn't wait to see Hainey fire the Rattler, his personal six barrel machine gun.
I'd give it to: Dave T., who knows more about hydraulics and American history than I do, and who would love the air-to-air combat.
In middle school Nikki has a locker next to her enemy, MacKenzie Hollister. MacKenzie is the most popular girl in school and she is a total meanie. The Halloween dance is in three weeks. Nikki would be so surprised (and happy) if her secret crush Brandon asked her to go with him. Nikki volunteers to help clean up after the dance. But because MacKenzie is in charge, the dance may never take place.
Why I picked it up: I read the summary in my school book order.
Why I finished it: When he asked Nikki to be his lab partner in biology class, she was so excited she did her Snoopy dance.
I'd give it to: Jason, because he likes to read books that are like diaries and have funny drawings.
A virus has infected everyone over the age of sixteen worldwide. Afflicted people, referred to as fathers and mothers, try to kill and eat the uninfected. Small groups of kids around the country who have banded together for safety. One group is holed up in Waitrose, a store where they forage for food and build a makeshift fortress to hold off the zombie-like Parents. A refugee shows up saying that, miles away at Buckingham Palace, there’s tons of food and fencing. The kids cannot muster the energy to move until they lose their leader. The trip promises to be difficult, with casualties expected, and Buckingham Palace is not everything it appears to be.
Why I picked it up: It’s a beautiful book -- printed on black-tinged paper with an embossed cover featuring a freaky-looking chase in an abandoned warehouse.
Why I finished it: A group of boys are trying to get food out of a vending machine at a community center. But they fall prey to marauding mothers and fathers who rise out of the scum-covered pool. The parents drag one victim away, leaving a bloody smear across the floor. His blond hair is the last thing visible as he disappears beneath the goop.
I'd give it to: Fans of Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist because both contain numerous instances of the words “pus.”
Sam doesn’t know he’s a necromancer. He’s “just your average guy rocking that fast food career,” unsure why he can’t focus or figure out what he wants. He dropped out of college and spends his time hanging out and working at Plumpy’s.
One day, a man comes storming into the restaurant and grabs Sam (hiding under a table, long story involving a potato) by the collar, and demands to know what he is doing in Seattle. His name is Douglas. He’s also a necromancer. Seattle is his territory, and he doesn’t want any competition. After work, Douglas’ minions attack Sam and his friends in the parking lot. Sam still has no idea what is going on.
Why I picked it up: It had the word “necromancer” in the title.
Why I finished it: “Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String” features Brooke’s head, delivered to Sam’s door in a package. Being bodiless has not slowed down Brooke’s quick thinking or her wise cracking mouth. While Sam and friends are freaking out, she tells them to settle down or she may “gnaw [their] damn ankles right off!” When Sam complains about his life, she replies, “Try being just a head for a little bit. Then you can complain.”
I'd give it to: Teens like Billy who love the Scream’s combination of slasher-movie humor and horror. Michelle, my link to all things cool when it comes to music, who would recognize all the chapter titles, which, like the title (remember Elton John’s “Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer”), are based on songs or lyrics.
Detailed tour through the new features of HTML5 with explicit code samples and lots of historical context explaining the changes.
This is the book version of the beautifully designed website http://diveintohtml5.org, something I wish I had realized before I bought the ebook.
Why I picked it up: I'm working on several website ideas and, having come up to speed on what HTML5 has to offer via HTML5 for Web Designers, I needed to take the next step and get into the specifics of implementation.
Why I finished it: I was immediately engrossed by the first chapter, a detailed archeological dig into the origins of a single HTML tag ("IMG"). Every aspect of today's Web is the result of some combination of political, personal, market, and technological forces, but very seldom are they presented with such perspective and insight, not to mention entertainment value.
I'd give it to: Garrett, a programmer friend who shares my love of technology and my distaste for process.
Krodin was a despot, hated by the people and nations he conquered, but no one could end his reign. Then events of a prophecy came to pass, and he died by immolation. The world was free of him, at least for the next 4,000 years.
Now, a group of terrorists led by Slaughter, a morally bankrupt woman with exceptional powers, intend to use the a nuclear power plant to snatch Krodin from the moment before his death. They want to bring him to the present and make him King of the world. The adult heroes have already been sidelined. A small band of super-powered teens must stop the bad guys.
Why I picked it up: The hooded executioner on the front cover promised blood and gore!
Why I finished it: Michael Carroll writes great fight scenes.
I'd give it to: Mike, who liked Sky High, another superhero adventure where the teens must save the adults. Azra, who would appreciate Abby, a preternaturally strong and fast girl who takes on Slaughter single-handed.
Eighty people from around the world are photographed with everything they ate in one day. Also includes essays by food and nutrition writers.
Why I picked it up: I loved Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (portraits of families from around the world with a week's worth of food) and the youth version of that book, What the World Eats and I was hoping for another booktalking home run.
Why I finished it: Even though I won’t be able to take it to a junior high classroom (some National Geographic style nudity, a guy smoking what looked like a bamboo bong, and cursing in the essays mean that the teacher will never hear the end of it no matter how educational or interesting the book is), I loved the portraits. Unlike the previous books, this one lists and is arranged by calorie counts of the day's food. Looking all of the different foods spread out in front of each person, I wondered which added the most to the total calorie count. I expected the Americans to be at the top of the range (USA! USA!), but I was really surprised at who was taking in the most calories.
I'd give it to: Gene, for the only person who isn't described by her profession: the urine drinker. And dieters who will be infuriated that the sumo wrestler takes in fewer calories than the skinny Italian friar.