This is a great book for younger teens and tweens, especially fans of adventure stories like "Harry Potter." Riordan wrote the very popular "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series, so fans of those books are going to love this first in his new series, "The Kane Chronicles," where he switches from Greek gods to Egyptian deities and follows the adventures of 14-year-old Carter Kane and his 12-year-old sister Sadie as they band together to find their dad, a magical archeologist, and save the world from Set, an evil, power-mad Egyptian god.
For middle grade readers, this is a sweet, funny, very entertaining story about a 12-year-old girl named Desi whose mother is a witch, but reluctant to share her magic or speak about Desi's dad. When mom suspiciously disappears early in the novel, she transforms her cat into a teenage girl named Cat, and leaves her in charge of Desi. So not only does the heroine have to try to sort out her parents' mysterious past, but cope with a babysitter who likes to snack on Kibbles.
The last book I have to mention, "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner," by Stephenie Meyer, is a novella about a young vampire who appears in "Eclipse," the third novel in the "Twilight" series.
And speaking of Stephenie Meyer, our next category -- Words and Pictures -- starts with the graphic novel version of "Volume 1" of "Twilight." If you have a tween or teen who isn't up to tackling the 500 pages of the book, this is a perfect beach read -- and the graphics are wonderful.
For the really reluctant reader, there's no better book than "Big Nate: In a Class by Himself," Lincoln Pierce's first foray into books. And this is the first in a six-book series from the very popular syndicated cartoonist. Big Nate is a 4-foot-tall, 11-year-old boy with a highly inflated sense of his own importance, but a keen and very funny take on the world around him. Perfect for younger readers.
This is the first in a trilogy of documentary novels set in the 1960s. This one follows Franny, a fifth grade air force brat, in 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it combines fantastic photos, ads and historical biography with the text. So it's a wonderful artifact, beautifully packaged -- and full of references to everything from Buster Brown shoes to "duck and cover" drills. A great story about a little girl set against a dramatic and historically accurate backdrop.
Our final but not-to-be-missed category is Kids on the Job. Inspire your teen with tales of peers such as a boy who acts as his blind uncle's eyes, a wanna-be teen lawyer, and some prequel action from everyone's favorite baby-sitters.
"The Cardturner," by Louis Sachar, whose previous novel, "Holes," is one of my all-time favorites -- made into a movie.