O'Dell, Kathleen. The Aviary.
Clara loves living in the Glendoveer mansion with her mother, Mrs. Glendoveer, and Ruby, the cook. When Mrs. Glendoveer dies, however, all sorts of secrets from the past come to light. Years earlier, the five Glendoveer children were kidnapped along with their nanny, and the bodies of four of them turned up drowned. The fifth child, Elliot, was never found, and the family hoped for his return. Mr. Glendoveer was a famous illusionist who was accused of using his magic to harm the children, and his career never recovered. He did, however, manage to use actual magic to place the spirits of the children into birds, and instructed his wife to take good care of them, not telling her what he had done. The only way for the spell to be broken is for Elliot to return. Clara, who has been told for years that she has a bad heart, makes a friend in a new neighbor girl, and the two try to figure out the family mystery so that the spirits of the children can be freed. They uncover more secrets than they bargain for!
Strengths: This is a good gothic mystery with paranormal themes that might go over well with Lemony Snicket fans.
Weaknesses: Some of the letters included are in a cursive font that is almost impossible to read. This, combined with the length of the book and the somewhat slow start to the action might make this a hard sell. It does have a Secret Garden vibe to it, somehow, which will appeal to adults.
Martino, Andy. Unison Spark.
I have developed Dystopia Overload, which when combined with Fantasy Amnesia, does not serve me well.
From the Publisher: " Fifteen-year-old Mistletoe lives in the sub-canopy zone amid poverty and outdated technology, but when she meets Ambrose Truax, the privileged sixteen-year-old heir to the Unison empire and they discover they share a sinister link, they begin a frightening journey into the uncharted territory of the Unison 3.0 upgrade."
This one started out well, and I think that it is interesting that more and more of the dystopian books (like Cinder) are set in Asian lands. I just couldn't get my head around this one, right from the beginning when it was described that Anna no longer wants to be called that, she wants to be Mistletoe instead, and her hair is blue. I liked the cover (which would be awesome next to Brain Jack and Klass' Stuck on Earth), the book design (sans serif font should be a requirement for all science fiction, shouldn't it?), and the inclusion of social networking and internet delivered to the palm of your hand. I'll probably even buy it; there are some books that I just can't keep stuck to my brain!