YA Room

These books might be intended for a general audience, or written especially for a younger audience, but generally with teenagers/young adults as primary characters; these books are usually good enough for everyone.

THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE and Other Tales by Edgar Allan POE (Papercutz) vol. 10 in the series Classics Illustrated Deluxe
Adaptation of three Edgar Allan Poe's short stories: The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Gold Bug, and The Mystery of Marie Roget. All three are good text adaptations, respecting closely Poe's writing and his plotlines, while being especially successful in the visual department. These stories are rich in details and remind me of some of the best EC Comics of the '50s and '60s; but where the latter prefered to focus on the gory and the scary, the former are showing much more subtlety.
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These are intended for kids aged 7 to 10, and they are derived from the immensely popular series of illustrated novels starring Geronimo and Thea Stilton; here, the Thea Sisters, a group of friends (all girls) want to become journalists, just like Thea Stilton.

In The Secret of Whale Island, while they are trying to save the whales from a lone orca, the Thea Sisters will make a surprising discovery about Vivica De Vissen, a very rich woman who's been funding the marine biology lab of Whale island. In Revenge of the Lizard Club, the 'sisters' will be needed to find out what is polluting the beaches of the island.

If your kids have enjoyed Dora the Explorer and --especially-- Go Diego Go, the logical next step is the Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton series of short, illustrated novels. They’re full of adventure, intrigue, fun characters and, surprisingly, they are a good way of subtly teaching kids about social issues like the preservation of endangered species, protection of the environment, but also about history in general. Even more so now with the series of historical graphic novels about Christopher Columbus, Gutenberg, the Samurais, the Olympics, Mozart, the Ice Age, Ancient Egypt, etc. The Geronimo series has spawned the The Thea Stilton series, intended more for girls and, logically, Thea now also has her own graphic novels. These small hardcover books, 50 pages or so, sell for the price of a mass market paperback book ($9.99 in the US, $10.99 in Canada).  It’s also a great tool for kids who are learning English as a second language –as mine are doing.

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NANCY DREW and the CLUE CREW: #1 Small Volcanoes by Sarah Kinney and Stefan Petrucham, illustrated by Stan Goldberg (Papercutz). A new series of graphic novels for kids.
--Age group 8 to 12, stories based on the Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym) classic Nancy Drew mystery novels. They have a Scooby-Doo visual quality to them, and at only $7,99 CAN/$6,99 US, they're well worth the prize. In this one, Nancy and her friends are trying to solve the mystery of the missing volcanoes; one day after everyone handed out their science project in class, the volcanoes are nowhere to be found. When they are suspected of the deed, Nancy and the Clue Crew decide to get on the case to find out who's really guilty.
You can also find an already popular series of Nancy Drew graphic novels for an older age group (12 to 16) with 19 issues available (and probably more on the way) plus two out-of-series issues Nancy Drew, Vampire Slayer. Papercutz is the name behind other popular graphic novel series, like Garfield, Geronimo Stilton, and Thea Stilton. For more about the quality books of Papercutz, visit the website.

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The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly

Let's just get to the point with this book, alright? Simply put, The Book of Lost Things deserves to become a classic in children/YA literature.  Even in literature in general because it is so well written and constructed that adults can enjoy it and be scared too. Kids younger than 12 should be supervised while reading it; there are scary and traumatizing scenes that even some horror novels can't match. Not wanting to use the word 'master' because it's become almost a cliché in book reviews, I'll write instead that John Connolly is a maven in the world of storytelling, especially when it comes to the human psyche; he's a specialist at knowing our fears and how to trigger them. (Full review very soon).
There are so many books I want to read, plus many that are released and added to that pile that I don't often re-read them. But The Book of Lost Things is one such book; I keep my signed copy on my shelf of signed books, but I also keep another copy on my night-stand and regularly read passages from it. I've read it three times from beginning to end and intend to do it again at least once a year. To me, this is a perfect book.

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Beautiful Malice 
by Rebecca James
UPDATE, November 12th: Rebecca James's next book has a new title "Little Deaths" and is an entirely different story than the Cooper Bartholomew one. A guy named Tim rents a house where strange things start happening; haunted house story? I'll try to get more info on it (and on the Bartholomew story) and I'll get back here to let you know. At the moment, the scheduled pub date for "Little Deaths" is January 2013. 
UPDATE: Beautiful Malice is on the long-list for Best First Fiction at the Ned Kelly Awards of the Crime Writers Association of Australia.
I will also post very soon one of my favorite interviews; I met Rebecca James, in Toronto last fall, while she was on tour to promote Beautiful Malice. It was more like talking to a friend I had not seen in a while, than doing an interview (and we'd never met before). I had coffee, she had tea and of course I asked questions and she answered them, but it was very casual and sympathique. About the actual book, I have to say I don't really like the different covers (although the one posted here, the Australian one) is probably the best one (just hate the British/Canadian one, too girly -or is it girlish? Anyway, it's bad). In this case, please don't judge the book by its cover(s). Buy it, read it; and then spread the word. I'll read Rebecca's new book, Cooper Bartholemew is Dead, as soon as I get it in my hands. It should be available to readers in the UK next July. Elsewhere? I'll find out and post it here. And I'm looking forward to the possibility of meeting Rebecca James again during her next promo tour.

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Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
I know that this is not a YA title, but I'm putting it here because the main character is a 12-year old.
After reading an advance copy of the book, I sent an email to a friend at S&S who had given me the book. Here's what I wrote to her: "Thank you for this book, it was excellent. I even cried at the end. So well written and very emotional. One death can alter so many lives. If the author doesn't win any awards, something is really wrong in the world of publishing. This book should be read and discussed in every school."

The author ended up winning the prestigious CWA's Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 2010!

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I can't wait to read her new one, Dark Side.