Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White

Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Number of Pages: 335
How I Got It: Bought the Hardcover

I had heard this debut title many times in the past few months, and then I saw it on a lot of Best I've Read lists for 2010, so I finally picked it up to read because I was in the mood for a girly, light-hearted book. PARANORMALCY totally fit what I was looking for. It is a really cute, flirty book about a sassy girl who thinks her life is one way, and finds out it's not exactly what she thought, all while falling for the new boy in the picture and dealing with paranormal creatures. Although the cover is somewhat dark, the book itself deals with the paranormal in a humorous way with lots of jokes about them, along with the serious plot of what's happening to Evie.

Evie just wants to be a normal teenager going to school and prom, unfortunately, she isn't. She works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency because she is special - she is the only human who can see through the "glamours" of paranormal creatures (it has faeries, vampires, werewolves, hags, banshees, trolls, mermaids...any paranormal you can think of) so she is put to work tracking them down. She finds them when they're causing trouble, verifies that they are paranormal, and then tags them and tells them they have to report to the closest IPCA office. She's good at her job, although, she doesn't have a family and she lives in the IPCA headquarters. She has her own area and all-access to the facilities, but her best friend is a mermaid and she never gets to leave without special permission and someone accompanying her. Then the weird dreams start, and the cute boy who is almost invisible breaks in, and her ex-boyfriend faerie won't leave her alone - and everything changes for Evie and the IPCA.

I really loved how fun this book was. Although it was dealing with a main conflict that was serious, the overall mood of the book was fun. The plot moved the book forward quickly, in fact I read this book in just two days. It was hard to put down because I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. It had a bit of a mystery aspect to it in trying to figure out what Evie's dreams meant and wondering who was really the good faerie trying to help her or the bad faerie out to get her - if a faerie even can really be good. Now about character: Evie is just a normal teenager with wanting to have her first kiss, go to prom, be at a normal high school, and rebelling in her subtle ways along with all of it; but she also has this crazy paranormal world she's dealing with and all of the politics that play a part in it - along with struggling with basically being the center of that world because of what she can do. So, there's a lot of pressure for her, but she handles it all in a kick-butt girl fashion with her sassy humor and flirty ways. However, the way she is written, it's so easy to relate to her and what she wants and what she's struggling with. There is a fun romantic plot to this story as well, with a bit of a twist as Evie isn't sure what her powers might be, if any, and Lend has powers that may be difficult for any girl to deal with. All of the characters are written in a fun, relateable way, and overall, it's a really cute book that I highly recommend. I'm glad it's going to be a series as I would love to go back and live in this world and see what happens to Evie next.

I'm glad this is going to be a trilogy series. I'm really looking forward to reading book two, Supernaturally, in September 2011, and untitled book three sometime in 2012 as well!

Monday, December 27, 2010

BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macinnis Gill

Author: David Macinnis Gill
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Number of Pages: 352
How I Got It: Signed Hardcover free from ALAN Workshop

BLACK HOLE SUN is a good guys vs. bad guys type of plot, with the uniqueness of taking place in a future where people have left Earth to create a liveable world on Mars. I was really looking forward to reading this book because I had been hearing good things about it, I thought it might be a good boy book, and Suzanne Collins blurbed it. Unfortunately, I was left a little disappointed - I think mostly because I spent much of the novel confused and trying to figure out this fictional world and because I'm not really a fan of creepy creatures and this book has a few of them. The jacket flap simply says: Durango is playing the cards he was dealt. And it’s not a good hand. He’s lost his family. He’s lost his crew. And he’s got the scars to prove it. You don’t want to mess with Durango. It's an intriguing teaser and shows that the book is all about Durango's journey, but it tells little about his friends that are on the journey with him, the science of this future society, or the sarcasm that you'll find in his character's interactions with his artificial intelligence brain chip. The book gets complicated, but I did want to keep reading to find out what would happen, it just was a little bit of a frustrating book for me as I tried to figure out what was going on..

There is one thing I really wanted from this book that I didn't get - a map of the world they live in on Mars and a glossary of all of the unique terms used in the book.  Each chapter title is the location on Mars and the time the chapter takes place, but in this creative world the author made up with many unfamiliar words for me, I was left feeling lost because I had trouble following the action in the beginning. I would have liked a few more places with exposition in the beginning where the world was explained to me so that I could understand it a little bit more. Ultimately, it's a good book in a creative and unique world with an action-packed story of a boy trying to prove himself and fight off the bad guys, a group trying to figure out how to keep their secret hidden and battle an overwhelming enemy, an entertaining humorous band of secondary characters helping him out, and a lot of sarcasm and wit; but it's definitely a book that takes a lot of concentration and paying attention to keep track of what's going on and to figure it all out.


Saturday, December 18, 2010


Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 332
How I Got It: Won it from The Contemps Challenge

THE MOCKINGBIRDS is one of those books that is so powerful for young adults to read, but deals with a very sensitive topic. In the same way that SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson brought the topic of date rape and it's psychological impact on a high school girl to adolescents eleven years ago, Daisy Whitney is doing it now in a more straight-forward way in her debut novel, THE MOCKINGBIRDS. To then find out that the author herself has personal experience with this, makes it all the more clear how true and accurate the portrayal of Alex's experiences in the aftermath of this horrifying experience are throughout this novel. At the start of the book Alex wakes up next to a boy she doesn't know and isn't able to remember how she got there. As she goes through that day trying to figure out and remember what happened to her, it becomes apparent that she was incapacitated and date raped. At her boarding school, where the adults trust the students to behave honorably because they are so exceptional in all they do, she has no adults to turn to for help, especially because she herself isn't sure of what happened. So, with the help and support of her close and loyal friends, she debates about turning to The Mockingbirds, a secret society made up of students who have decided to police and judge their own and right the wrongs fellow students commit. Alex's journey to find her truth and path is searingly honest and provides a powerful example of struggling to discover one's own truth and sense of right and wrong, and what one will do to find it.

I read this book in one day - I just wasn't able to put it down because Alex's story is so engrossing and captivating, providing a powerful message for young adults. It provides an interesting look at how those who want to stand up for others and do the right thing can organize a system to police themselves that works. It sends a strong message that "the absence of a no does not mean yes." It touches on bullying issues as well, and shows another way of looking at high school students: if they know what others are doing is wrong, what are they willing to do about it? At Themis Academy, The Mockingbirds are willing to do what it takes to call out those who have wronged others and support the victims in every way. Whitney's writing style drew me in, made me interested in the story and what was happening, and gave me clues along the way that propelled the story forward along with my desire to read it. She wrote smart, real characters with real friendships and struggles and desires. This book has main and secondary characters who were written so I honestly cared about them, wanted to know more about them, wanted to root for them, and would love to hang out with them.

This book is about doing the right thing, finding yourself and your inner strength and beliefs by standing up for yourself and others, becoming stronger in knowing the truth and fighting for it, and surrounding yourself with ones you love who would stand up for and support you when you need them. I think the book speaks for itself: "Maybe, ultimately, that's what we're all aspiring to - to have our own sense of right and wrong and to act on it."

This is without a doubt one of the best books I've read this year, any year really, and I highly recommend that you read it!
I look forward to reading more by Daisy Whitney! In fact, book 2 in The Mockingbirds is coming out in fall 2011 - it will definitely be on my to-read list!

Other Books You Might Like: SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson and THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDEAU-BANKS by e. Lockhart 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Best I've Read 2010

Best I've Read 2010 (BIR2010) December 6-14
A group of nine bloggers got together for the first annual Best I've Read 2010 event. I've been entering book giveaways all week, and got inspired to do my own Best I've Read 2010 list. This is a bit of a departure for me, because I usually do Heise's Hot List based on the school year calendar and the dozen favorite books I read that year. I've decided to try it this way to share my list of favorite YA books I read in the calendar year of 2010 (in no particular order - I have a hard enough time narrowing the list down, no way am I going to rank order it!). These are the books that have stuck with me the most for varying reasons related to the writing, the story, or the message.

Best Books I've Read 2010
NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer*
THE LOST HERO by Rick Riordan*
MATCHED by Ally Condie*
MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins*
HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter*
LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater*
DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

Honorable Mentions
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Siobhan Vivian
THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB by Elizabeth Eulberg
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series by Cassandra Clare*
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
*series books

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Siobhan Vivian

Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Push
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Number of Pages: 336
How I Got It: In my box of free books at ALAN

When I met Siobhan Vivian at the ALAN Workshop, she signed my book and said "I hope you enjoy it." and I told her that I had already pulled it out of my box of books I was going to ship back and hers was in the pile of books to take on the plane with me to read on the flight home. That is how intrigued I was by the premise of this book based on the summary alone. I had not read any of Siobhan Vivian's other books before NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, but I already bought her others to read based on how much I enjoyed this one!
Summary (from Goodreads) 
     Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.

     But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to be with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.
     Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about the high school drama, relationships, friendships, goals, and reputations. It is a combination book: it's light-hearted, but also deals with heavy, important topics for high school age girls. It is about discovery and finding yourself and figuring out what you really want in life. It's about learning to live your life for yourself and not for what others think of you, but figuring out what it is that others actually do think of you because of how you portray yourself. It's about being OK with the kind of girl you are, and making sure it's the kind of girl you want to be and want others to view you as. It's about reputations (good and bad), how to get them, how to change them, and how important they should really be in making your own decisions. It's a book about girls standing up for each other and supporting each other in being successful. It's about girls having to own up to their bad decisions with boys, but also finding when they're honest about who they are, they are stronger with each other, themselves, and the boys they're focused on. It's about not judging people based on rumors or who you think they are, but giving them a chance to get to know them for who they really are. It's a book that shows girls and boys in all lights - the good and the bad. It's a book showing serious social consequences for actions. 

This book doesn't pull punches. It's honest. It's scary. It's full of heart. It's full of empowerment messages. There are several subplots to keep track of, and the plot kept me interested with all of the things going on. I appreciate the fact that the boy character was a genuinely good guy, although it didn't seem that way in the beginning - again going back to the idea of judging without knowing, just as the main character does. It has characters I'd want to be friends with, characters I'd want to mentor, and characters I'd be interested in. It's enjoyable - an easy, straight-forward read, and highly recommended. It's for a more mature reader, but nothing too graphic, and it's an important before high school read. Vivian writes with a friendly, realistic voice. She writes real characters who have lots of layers. High school is a breeding ground for rumors and ridicule. It's a dangerous balancing act and this book sends the message that you really need to have a strong sense of who you are, your values, and your goals in order to survive it.

Other Books that I was reminded of: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulburg, She's So Money by Cherry Cheva, and Good Girls by Laura Ruby


Sunday, December 5, 2010

DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 272
How I Got It: In my free box of books at the ALAN Workshop

I'm so glad I chose to read this book just after Thanksgiving because it's such a great, feel-good story that takes place from right before Christmas to right after New Year's. It's such fun to read these kinds of stories around the holidays. From the authors of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List comes their new collaborative story, told in alternating points of view chapter by chapter. Dash and Lily are both high school students in New York City who are home without parents for the holidays. Dash and Lily are both looking for someone who understands them and someone to share their time and thoughts with. Dash and Lily have not met when this story starts, and don't actually meet until about halfway through, because Dash and Lily are communicating via messages written in a notebook and dares to each other and clues to find the next hiding spot. Dash first finds the notebook at his favorite bookstore as he's browsing the shelves, and there are clues to hidden places - and with nothing better to do he figures them out and discovers the notebook is from Lily. She's looking for a guy that will be right for her, and figures if someone has gone far enough to get through all of the clues, he just might be the right one. Intrigued, Dash writes her a lengthy message back and starts them on their path to exchanging the notebook back and forth. They continue to dare each other to go deeper and reveal more about themselves and their dreams and desires. As their messages get more in depth, the reader learns about each of them just as they are learning about each other. This book has it all: adolescent awkwardness, romantic entanglements, missed opportunities, friendships changing, family discoveries, and above all, the realization that sometimes you need to grab the opportunity and make it work for you, instead of waiting for it to happen to you.

This was a really enjoyable book with a great cast of likeable and funny secondary characters supporting the antics of the two main characters who I was rooting for throughout the book. Dash is a highly intelligent character who uses big words and is very thoughtful. He is a character that is not your typical "leading man" for a romance story, in fact he is often described by others as "surly;" however, it is obvious that he is just a very in-his-head kind of guy. Lily is confident in herself and her uniqueness of style and attitude and able to accept that she is not the "popular" type; however, she comes to discover that the way she's looking at the world isn't necessarily the way the world is looking at her. Both are mature, intelligent characters who are very accepting of others and working to figure out the status of their family, friend, and romantic lives. 

These two authors make a great writing pair. Their plot continues to move forward without the generic or stereotypical teenage angst or drama events. The story feels real and honest. Neither one is ever sure if they or the other will live up to their notebook selves. Can they be that honest in real life also? New York City itself becomes a character in this story and the setting adds to the romantic nature of what happens throughout the book.  I haven't read either of their other books, but I will definitely be picking them up.


In My Mailbox - New Books This Week (8)

In My Mailbox is a shared posting concept/listing from The Story Siren for YA book bloggers to share titles that have been arriving and will be showing up in reviews soon (read about what it is and how it got started here: In My Mailbox). This will be a semi-regular feature on Teach 8 YA Book Blog to let my students know the books to be looking for on the classroom library shelves and for others to know what reviews to anticipate.

I am so lucky to have gotten so many wonderful books at this year's ALAN Workshop! There are a lot this week(67!)-so bear with me (and forgive the lack of cover photos).  It's so exciting to have so many awesome books to talk about, review, and share! I described ALAN like the English teacher's version of Oprah's Favorite Things - and I'm sure you'll be able to see why based on this list of books I shipped home from Orlando.

ARCs (from ALAN)
SHINE by Lauren Myracle (signed)
MY UNFAIR GODMOTHER by Janette Rallison (signed)
STRINGS ATTACHED by Judy Blundell (signed)
WARP SPEED by Lisa Yee (signed)
DARK GODDESS: A Devil's Kiss Novel by Sarwat Chadda
HUNTRESS by Malinda Lo
HORTON HALFPOTT (or The Fiendish Mysery of Smugwick Manor or The Lossening of M'Lady Luggertick's Corset) by Tom Angleberger (signed)
Hardcovers (from ALAN)
DASH AND LILY'S BOOK OF DARES by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn (signed)
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Siobhan Vivian (signed)
BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macginnis Gill (signed)
NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer (signed)
THE THIN EXECUTIONER by Darren Shan (signed)
WHITE CAT by Holly Black (signed)
BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (signed)

BLUE BLOODS: KEYS TO THE REPOSITORY by Melissa de la Cruz (signed)
NIGHTSHADE CITY by Hilary Wagner (signed)
DOUBLE EAGLE by Sneed B. Collard III (signed)
VIRGIN TERRITORY by James Lecesne (signed)
CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
GIMMIE A CALL by Sarah Mlynowski
TANGLED by Carolyn Mackler
PAPER DAUGHTER by Jeanette Ingold
THE BRAIN FINDS A LEG by Martin Chatterton
JUMPED by Rita Williams-Garcia 
ASH by Malinda Lo
SIREN by Tricia Rayburn
OUT OF THE BLUE by S.L. Rottman
FAT CAT by Robin Brande
CRAZY by Han Nolan
FIRE by Kristin Cashore
FALLOUT by Ellen Hopkins
A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner
WE COULD BE BROTHERS by Derrick Barnes 
NINTH WARD by Jewell Parker Rhodes
I AM NOT JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos
THE SAGA OF LARTEN CREPSLEY: Birth of a Killer (prequel to the Cirque du Freak series) by Darren Shan
Paperbacks (from ALAN)
SKINNED by Robin Wasserman (signed)
JUST ONE WISH by Janette Rallison (signed)
THE VAN ALEN LEGACY (a Blue Bloods novel) by Melissa de las Cruz (signed)
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (movie tie-in cover edition) by Ned Vizzini (signed)
THE DEMON KING (A Seven Realms Novel) by Cinda Williams Chima
RECKLESS by Lesley Choyce
HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick
WE WERE HERE by Matt de la Pena
SQUEEZE by Rachel Dunstan Muller
PICTURE THIS by Norah McClintock
HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE by Dana Reinhardt
WAKE by Lisa McMann
FIRST LIGHT by Rebecca Stead
BREATHLESS by Jessica Warman
Short Story Complications (from ALAN)
HOW BEAUTIFUL THE ORDINARY: Twelve Stories of Identity by Various Authors
THE KISSING GAME by Aidan Chambers (ARC)
Graphic Novel (from ALAN)
HEREVILLE: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (signed)

Won from The Contemps Challenge
LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden (signed)
Denise sent me a personal note, a signed copy, plus a bunch of signed bookmarks for my students! Thanks so much Denise!!!

GIRL, STOLEN by April Henry (signed hardcover)

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
I'd heard so many good things about this one, I had to buy it on it's release day, and it was great! Read my review here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books (Penguin Group USA)
Release Date: December 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 372
How I Got It: Bought the hardcover

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS takes me back to my visits to Paris - the city of romance - and this book certainly has that.  Young adult romance books are all about discovering who you are, what you want, who you want to be with, and how that impacts everything you think about yourself and your path in life. They're great for escapism and hope and entertainment, and this book has all of that. In her debut novel, Perkins has tapped into the adolescent hope and drama of first loves and crushes and developing relationships in a realistic way. It's a cute book that takes place in a great setting making me want to go back to visit Paris and see all of the specific places the author mentions along with just the feeling of being there in that city - it's like a guidebook for living in Paris and makes me want to do so. It is a book with real characters who have highs and lows and family problems and friendship problems and relationship problems and screw things up and have to work to fit it all back together again. It's a book with light-heartedness and some deeper emotional issues all wrapped up in a fun book. It's a book that deals with adolescent hopes and desires and fickleness and friendships and changes and confusions and first loves and kisses - all while remaining appropriate for a wide audience - who will be able to read it and relate to the realness of the emotions and communication breakdowns and misunderstandings of these teens.

Anna, a great and entertaining narrator, is sent off to boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. She has a crush and a best friend and a brother and mom back home who she doesn't want to leave, but her father isn't giving her an option. When she gets to school in Paris, as the new girl (who doesn't speak a bit of French) in a senior class of only 25, she feels lost and lonely. Then she meets some key people and starts to make friends, and develops a major crush on the cute English/American/French classmate, accented and cute, Etienne St. Clair. Only one problem: he has a girlfriend. The book's story unravels over the course of the school year as Anna and Etienne grow to become really good friends through long talks about things they may not share with anyone else. There are starts and stops and near misses along the bumpy road of their developing relationship, ending in a climatic moment on top of the Notre Dame Cathedral where all of their truths come out. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and taking this journey with Anna, Etienne, and their friends.  Although some events throughout were a bit predictable, the setting and the deeply developed characters adding a unique aspect to this story that kept me engaged. The book portrays the realistic young adult "does he like me or not" drama of so many adolescent thoughts. I appreciated that Anna and Etienne were both complex characters who developed a true friendship as they fell for each other - instead of just a love at first sight thing that didn't make any sense. In the scenes when it was just the two of them talking, it was easy to see why those conversations led to the deep relationship that developed for the two of them.  It's ultimately a book about being honest about your feelings and knowing that it isn't as important where you are as much as who you are with that matters the most in making you feel at home.

I look forward to reading the two companion books that Stephanie Perkins is writing:
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Fall 2011) & Isla and the Happily Ever After (Fall 2012)

Friday, December 3, 2010

SPRAY by Harry Edge

SPRAY is an action-packed book and a lot of fun to read. It's like the action movie/video game of young adult novels. It is a book that a lot of boys would like because it combines the suspense, adventure, mystery/spy, and video game genres into one plot-driven story. The story begins the night before the game actually starts. The game is "assassin" - a classic cat-and-mouse search/spy game seen played recently on Gossip Girl - but the twist is that this one is played with pressurized water guns. The gamemaster assigns each player a "target" - the goal being to hunt down the target and "assassinate" them by spraying them before the player gets sprayed by their own assassin. The game starts with a couple hundred players and the gamemaster makes all of the rules. In the book, the game is played in cities all over the world.

The story is told from five different points-of-view allowing the reader to follow various factions as they plot and battle to spray their targets before their assassin gets them first. There are several subplots with family and friendship and romance and water conservation, but the main story is about who will outsmart the rest to win the game and be the ultimate victor. Who can hide out the longest to protect themselves, while also being the most cunning in being able to spray their targets. Its not a very deep book as far as character development goes, it's pretty surface level, but it is a fun book. Reading this book was like watching a movie and I wanted to know who would win. I really enjoyed it and I think it is a strong boy book addition.

3 1/2 STARS for SPRAY by Harry Edge

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I've Accepted! The 2011 Debut Author Challenge

One of the blogs that I read and heard about a lot when I started my book review blog was Kristi's aka: The Story Siren.  She reviews a lot of YA books, and does some awesome community building of YA bloggers and promoting of books and authors.  You've seen my In My Mailbox posts which link back to her site as the originator of the shared posts, and now I'm joining in another one of her lovely book ideas.  I'm going to be participating in The 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  

The challenge is to read at least 12 young adult or middle grades novels in one year - from authors who are releasing their first book book in that genre that year. Then, each month, the book reviews from all participating blogs get linked on The Story Siren. building! Read more about it at The Story Siren 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  So...from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, I'm challenging myself to read 12 books from first time young adult or middle grades authors. That would amount to one debut author book each month (and I'm sure I'll read more than that!). I'll be posting the reviews as normal, but stating that they're for the 2011 DAC. I'm excited to start a new book stack!  

As of now (and it could change) these are the titles I'm most looking forward to reading and reviewing from debut authors for 2011:
UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand
THE LATTE REBELLION by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
WHERE I BELONG by Gwendolyn Heasley
LEVERAGE by Joshua C. Cohen
THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander
LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard (also a Contemps Challenge book)
THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens
DIVERGENT by Veronica Ross