Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best of 2012: Middle Grade

If you're done with Christmas shopping, my condolences.  Okay, I'm 97% happy for you, but I'm afraid this blog post won't help you as much as it might others.  I've read a lot of books this year. With one week till Christmas, I thought I'd post some of my personal favorite books from 2012, and if you want to use the as gift ideas, you don't even have to give me the credit (of course you can . . .).   I'll do several other posts on Young Adult books later, so don't worry, but today it's all about middle-grade.

So in no particular order, I introduce my top 5 middle grade books from 2012.

1. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long lost son and install him as a puppet prince.  Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword point---he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Connor's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. Quoted from Amazon

2. The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost
Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.

Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and is being followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of--physical and mental feats that should be impossible--and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.

Co-creator of the groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks, Mark Frost brings his unique vision to this sophisticated adventure, which combines mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural. Quoted from Goodreads

3. Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer

Seemingly nothing in this world daunts the young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. In the fairy world, however, there is a small thing that has gotten under his skin on more than one occasion: Opal Koboi. In The Last Guardian, the evil pixie is wreaking havoc yet again. This time his arch rival has somehow reanimated dead fairy warriors who were buried in the grounds of Fowl Manor. Their spirits have possessed Artemis’s little brothers, making his siblings even more annoying than usual. The warriors don’t seem to realize that the battle they were fighting when they died—a battle against Artemis—is long over. Artemis has until sunrise to get the spirits to vacate his brothers and go back into the earth where they belong. Can he count on a certain LEPrecon fairy to join him in what could well be his last stand? 

4. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her? Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare . . .    Quoted from Goodreads

5. The Last Apprentace: Lure of the Dead by Joseph Delaney

Nobody enters here after dark.  Come back in the morning, if you're still breathing . . .

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, and apprentaced to the local spook. He has battle boggards, witches, and the most powerful evils of the dark, but  his most trying task is yet to come.

When Tomas and the Spook are decieved by one they trust, they find themselves in the most terrifying danger yet. Blood-hungry creatures have invaded a sleeping village. Tom can save the Spook---and the whole county---but only by betraying one of his greatest allies.  With everything on the line, Tom must have the courage to stand and fight, and to face a choice that could break his heart.  Quoted from Amazon

Of course there are a  lot of other great books that came out this year.  The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan was also a top contender, but I didn't want to include two books by the same author.  Plus, these books are ones I especially enjoyed.  Several are the first in their series, others the middle or the end, but all of them are worth checking out. If you have any other Middle Grade books you think should have made the list, let me know, and happy reading.

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