Auseon, Andrews. Alienated.
Gene and Vincent are high schoolers with a mission-- they publish a small newsletter about real space aliens who live among us. Their parents humor them, no one really reads it, but they spend a lot of time interviewing these harmless and misunderstood creatures. When a popular guidance counselor turns out to be the nephew of the most evil alien overlord, their news does get some attention. The counselor is ousted and intergalactic complications ensue. This is a good book for students who like goofy alien books like Mackel's Can of Worms or Luzzato's Interplanetary Avenger. There's action, adventure and goop, but I didn't care for this personally. The prose seemed very wooden and inelegant. Since I usually don't notice thisI was surprised at how much less appealing this made the story for me. Students will probably not notice, because there are a lot of nonstop, goof, throwaway lines.
Williams, Sarah Deford. Palace Beautiful.
On the flip side, Palace Beautiful was beautifully written, but will be less appealing to students because very little happens and the prose does veer into the overly sentimental. Sadie and her sister Zuzu move with their father and pregnant step mother into an older house. In the attic, they discover the journal of a former occupant, a girl Sadie's age whose family was hard-hit by the influenza epidemic in 1918. This explains the 1985 setting-- the girls eventually meet this girl as an 80-year-old woman. Sadie, whose mother died when Zuzu was born, becomes very concerned about her stepmother's welfare. There is also a slightly odd, ongoing story line concerning a neighbor girl, Kristin, who wants to be called Belladonna Desolation, dress in black, and fights with her mother about being understood. There are hints that the girl from 1918 might be a ghost, so this started off with a Betty Ren Wright feel to it (complete with unfortunate cover), but the book really doesn't dwell on this possibility. I rather liked this one, but I think it would be a hard sell. I will definitely read any new books from this author, but may not buy this one.
And no, I don't have a copy of Riordan's The Red Pyramid yet. My vendor promised me the five I ordered would come on May 6th, but then called Friday to say it would be more like the end of the month. After the library is closed. *SOB*