Queen of the Yard, book three of the Denim Diaries by Damien Lee was an interesting book. It took some getting used to, because every day events were told in a realistic, matter-of-fact voice, but instead of Beany Malone cooking dinner and worrying about her dress for the big dance, it depicted inner-city girls beating up members of their own gang. That certainly got my attention, and I did very much like the fact that the characters were all struggling against obstacles but still trying to get to college. Also appreciated that "mature" subject matter was delicately handled. Patience is a gang leader but also an honor student. She believes that the gang helps her and her friends survive in their troubled neighborhood, but when she finds out that one of her own wants to kill her, she must make sure that her dreams of college are not jeopardized. There is some drinking, and Patience and her friend Denim each have intimate relationships with their boyfriends, and while these are not described graphically, these scenes are what make me question purchasing these books. These would be very popular, but more appropriate for high school.
Last year, when I had five heavy-duty fantasy fans gasping for a new book per day, I would have definitely purchased Jason Cockcroft's Counter Clockwise, but this year time travel has been a tough sell. Nathan's mother is killed by a bus on a London road, pitching his father into depression and inaction. When Nathan meets enormous Beefeater who seems to know him, and his father is sucked through the bathroom wall of their condemned apartment building, Nathan gets pulled into a world where he keeps repeating the past and trying to make it the way it should be, even though he's not entirely sure what that is. Plenty of action and adventure, a little goofiness, and good family relationships made this a fun book to read, and being set in London never hurts anything!