Carman, Patrick. The Dark Hills Divide.
Alexa chafes at being kept in her walled community-- even the roads between big towns are walled. Even though this has been done within recent memory (the book opens with the death of the instigator, Warvold), no one seems to remember why there are walls, except that the surrounding forest and neighboring community are evil. Alexa finds a key in Warvold's locket when he dies, and it leads her out of the community into a strange world of animals whose speech she can understand, former criminals, and others who have a vested interest in seeing the walls come down. There's the requisite traitor who must be found and brought to justice, and clues for Alexa to pick up to help save her community from war.
Several students recommended that I purchase this; it comes in a horrible Scholastic hard cover without the dust jacket. I liked Carman's Atherton series better, but then, it didn't have talking animals!
Coughlin, Jack and Donald A. David. Clean Kill: A Sniper Novel.
From publisher: "Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Swanson is recalled from Pakistan to take control when a peace negotiation between Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the Israeli foreign minister is disrupted by a missile strike, but his arrival on the scene creates even more chaos when it brings Swanson's dangerous enemy Juba out of hiding."
A student asked me to read this to see if he thought I would like it. He had seen mention of it on The History Channel or somewhere similar. It is an adult novel, and while this student might enjoy it (he has a strong interest in the military), it is not quite suitable for a middle school collection. Not only are there frequent uses of foul language, but the characters and plot are very convoluted. My biggest objection to the book, however, was the completely heartless killing that goes on. Foreign soldiers blithely slitting people's throats? Good excuse for military personnel to swoop down and kill them.
I must be wearying a bit of YA-- I also read Patrick Taylor's An Irish Country Christmas. It was rather a treat, and I would like to pick up the first two books in the series over the summer.