Korman, Gordon. The Emperor's Code (Book 8, The 39 Clues)
Dan and Amy are in China for this latest installment, hunting around the Forbidden City for clues as to whether or not they really ARE from the evil Madrigal Branch. Dan finds an important clue about uniting the branches, but is then kidnapped. When he escapes, he stays for a while with his Wizard cousins because he can't find Amy. Amy is torn-- does she look for her brother, or for the next clue? These are always good fun, and the students will be more apt to pay attention for clues to the circled words in the text than I was. Interesting that Dan has a little more 'oomph' in this one-- I guess Korman is fonder of him than other authors are!
Meyer, Carolyn. The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoniette.
This is a lengthy book (420 pages), and I wasn't sure that I would like it, even though the other Young Royals books were very good. This turned out to be a fascinating look at a young woman who, because of her circumstances, became an evil and entitled villain. Betrothed at a young age to a man whom she at first dislikes, she is swept up in the glamorous life of the French court. Because her husband does not pay enough attention to her, she is unable to fulfill her most important role-- giving birth to an heir. The discussions of this are very discreet, but some might want to save this for high school. Because of these frustrations, and the strictures placed on her, she starts to spend money and act in ways that infuriate the impoverished French people, bringing about her own eventual demise. Learned a lot from this book, and enjoyed every minute.
LaFevers, R. L. Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus.
Just feel compelled to point out that Theodosia was dealing with Egyptian magic far before Rick Riordan picked it up with The Red Pyramid, not that there can really be too many books on the subject! Could it be that authors are looking at the middle school curriculum and actually writing books we NEED? Doesn't matter; I love Theodosia. As the only one in her family who can detect and remove curses from Egyptian artifacts, Theodosia is perpetually rolling her eyes at the clueless adults around her and then saving their necks. This time, several sets of evil doers are stalking Theodosia in order to get the Emerald Tablet from her, and she must stealthily remove curses, protect her brother, perform Egyptian burial rites on poor Tetley, and in general, keep things going, since her parents are so distracted by work that they can't even get dinner on the table. I enjoyed her grandmother stepping away from her imperious, disapproving role, and am looking forward to a trip to Egypt that must now occur.
If you haven't already purchased them, definitely pick up Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (2007) and Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris (2008). They will be widely read. I would love to see LaFevers do a similar series with Greek or Roman archaeologists, perhaps concerned more with the digs than the magic.