If you are looking for fiction books to excite and instill a life long love of reading, here is a nice variety of genre that are all page-turners and that even reluctant readers will enjoy. All are geared for ages nine and older, unless otherwise stated. This is the second of three planned reviews in a row of fiction books for this age group. Most of these books would be great read-aloud stories for all ages.

N secondThe Second Life of Abigail Walker, by Frances O’Roark Dowell, is a powerful story that centers on 6th-grader Abby and her early life [on the initial pages of the book] to the transformation of her inward look at herself and newly-found “second life” as the story progresses. Overweight Abby is continually teased and bullied by other girls whom she has been attempting to gain acceptance from. But one day, she seems to cross over to a new life when she flees to an abandoned lot across the street and encounters a wild fox. Thus enters a kind of magical tale that intertwines with the reality of her situation in life and the potential of what might be for her. She also meets a younger boy whose life also needs introspection and their lives become more meaningful and resourceful as they search for their own importance.

Hollow Earth, by John & Carole E. Barrowman, is an exciting fantasy adventure that hopefully becomes a series of books that will continue the astounding events displayed in this book. Twins, Matt and Emily, share an amazing gift: they can bring works of art to life and even enter into the paintings themselves. This ability places their lives at danger and they attempt to flee to a small island off the coast of Scotland. But what happens there will keep you up all night reading! Also, the movie rites of the book have recently been purchased.

N starryStarry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin, is actually a continuation of the Newbery Honor book: “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”. I didn’t believe there could be any more to add to that award-winning story, but I was wrong! Rendi has run away from home and finds himself stranded in a small village. He finds work as the innkeeper’s chore boy and thus begins the most interesting tales, many of which are based on Chinese folklore. Madame Chang tells a story of such magnitude that Rendi can hardly believe it. But the center of all is the missing moon and Rendi hears the sky’s sadness wrench through the horizon. You don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this companion, but you’ll likely pick it up because this is so good.

Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time, by James Dashner, is a brand new series that is written in a similar format as the successful “39 Clues” featuring a different author in each new book. This is the first in the series with puzzles to solve inside the story as well as logging onto the website to play the game. When Dak and Sera accidentally discover a way to time-travel, the adventure begins all the way back to the fate of mankind. This author is one of my favorite authors for kids! Also, book 2, by Carrie Ryan, recently became available.

N downButton Down, by Anne Ylvisaker, is a warm, loving homage to family and the strong bond that keeps them together. The year is 1929 in a small town in Iowa where young Ned can’t think of anything but football. Surprisingly, Ned has some real gifts for throwing and catching the ball. But the real star of this sweet story is grandpa who is full of down-to-earth wisdom that you will want to write down. Having relatives like Grandpa makes you reminisce of those hot summer day reunions. This is the second book featuring the Button family. Don’t miss reading the excellent first book: “The Luck of the Buttons”.

N powerThe Power of Poppy Pendle, by Natasha Lowe, is a delightful story about young Poppy who was born on the floor of a bakery which seems to have been an omen of what was to come. Poppy is a young witch which her parents desire for her to capitalize on her magical powers. But all she truly wants to do in life is: bake. When her parents prevent her from this non-magical venture she does something no one expects. This is the perfect bedtime read-out-loud story for all ages!

N a boyA Boy and a Bear in a Boat, by Dave Shelton, is another perfect read-aloud for the entire family! There are wonderful illustrations, by the author, sprinkled throughout helping to move the story along. A boy goes out to sea in a small boat with only a suitcase, a comic book, a ukulele and his friend: a bear. They encounter many difficulties while at sea which include a huge storm and a threatening sea monster. How this great tale ends will likely bring readers back again and again.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand, and sprinkled with illustrations by Sarah Watts, is a spooky, eerie mystery best suited for ages ten and older. The mystery begins when Victoria’s friend, Lawrence, suddenly goes missing. She suspects that perhaps he, along with other missing children, are ending up at the Cavendish Home. So she sets out to investigate. What she finds there will keep you on the edge of your seat through the entire book!