Harrington, Kim. Clarity.
Clarity "Clare" Fern is able to hold an object and can sometimes retrieve memory of emotions or activity from it. Her brother can communicate with the dead, and her mother can read people's minds. They have a small business doing readings in their small tourist town on the East Coast, but when a girl is murdered after spending time with her brother, Clare agrees to help the police investigate. With the help of her former boyfriend, a budding news reporter, and Gabriel, the hot son of the new police detective, she tries to uncover the path of the killer, especially after two more people are killed. Things are complicated by a new psychic undermining the family business, as well as Clare's attraction to Gabriel, who may or may not be dangerous. Strengths: Really good murder mystery, which is what my students want! Lots of twists and turns. Really enjoyed the setting, and the psychic gifts were explained in a way that made sense. The sequel, Perception, comes out on March 12, 2012. Ms. Harrington also has a younger series, Sleuth or Dare, coming out in the spring.
Weaknesses: Borderline young adult. There is a lot of talk of the brother hooking up with tourist girls, as well as the former boyfriend having an affair. No details are given, no bad language used, so I will buy the series. (If there's any money!) Cover not very good, especially since Clare's hair is clearly defined as curly/frizzy. ( I see that there is now an alternate cover!)
Sampson, Jeff. Vesper (Deviants #1)
Emily Webb doesn't care what she wears-- or rather, she cares very much that she wears figure concealing clothing, unlike her older stepsister Dawn. When a classmate, Emily C., is found murdered miles from home in her pajamas, Emily W. starts to notice changes in her behavior. She starts to go to parties in skimpy clothes and drink, flirting with boys in ways that have never made her comfortable, and following them around because they smell good. What is causing her change? Can it have something to do with genetic experimentation at the company BioZenith? Since other kids at her school whose parents worked for the company are having similar problems, it's a good guess. The sequel, Havoc, comes out on January 24, 2012.
Strengths: Obviously paranormal from the cover, it was a little more original than most of the stories.
Weaknesses: Other reviewers seemed to like the girl power in this one, but I'm not quite seeing it. The whole "Wow, we didn't know you were hot until you took off your hoodie and glasses!" thing bothered me a bit. That's okay, with the amount of drinking and licking boys that goes on, this is more YA than middle school.