The books I buy are very dependent on the readers that I have. Last year, I would have purchased Batson's The Curse of the Spider King, because it's basically the "oddball children save the world from encroaching evil" sort of book, so complicated that a huge dictionary of characters is needed at the begining. However, this year what I need are more romantic fantasies for girls who like Twilight, so instead, I will purchase Once A Witch.
Tamsin's family all have Talents (magical powers), but she doesn't. When a professor shows up at her family's bookstore and mistakes Tamsin for her older sister Rowena, she agrees to help him find a lost family clock. Along with her friend Gabriel, who can travel through time, and her school roommate Agatha, she uncovers mysteries about her family and herself and is able to use powers she didn't know about to save the people she loves. Students who like City of Bones or Wings will like this one. I ended up liking this one a lot!
Flynn's Out of His League is a slightly older title, but I think that I will purchase it even though there is more beer drinking than I can normally stand. 18-year-old Ozzie is being courted by football teams (Rugby?) in Australia, but decides to spend a year in an exchange program in a Texas town where American Football is the most important thing. He gives it a try and is fairly successful, making friends in his new school and navigating his way through the vagaries of American life. There are enough play-by-plays to make this interesting to readers who want a sports story, and the problems are different enough that it will be a good addition.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written an astounding 136 books during her career, and her topics are wide ranging. Faith, Hope and Ivy June returns to the land of Shiloh. Ivy June is from a small mountain community; Catherine is from Lexington. The two are involved in an exchange program to help students understand the differences between the two communities and to help dispel stereotypes. Ivy June spends two weeks in Lexington, marveling at the ease of life and trying not to feel bad about her older clothes and lack of experience in the larger world, and then Catherine visits Ivy June's Kentucky coal mining town, where she has to wash up in the kitchen sink and do without a phone of any kind. While Catherine is there, her mother ends up in the hospital and there is a crisis at the coal mine. These things bring the girls closer and show them that they are far more alike than dissimilar. I normally hate quirky Southern tales, but this one was highly readable and quite enjoyable.
On the "not quite right" list: Carey's The Unknowns, which had its moments but also was set in a trailer park (Note to Higher Power of Lucky fans-- I've never had a child ask for something set in a trailer park!) and involved a lot of math equations; Ehrenhaft's Dirty Laundry, which would be a fine mystery for high schools; and Carrie Jones' Love and Other Uses for Duct Tape, which has a great title and cover, but is also a high school book because of content.