It's also a great time to remember not to judge a book by its cover (although some of these are admittedly attractive) - 'cause another thing many small publishing houses can't really afford are super awesome graphic designers that make you drool before you even know what the book is about.
So, here are the best books you've (mostly) never heard of:
BOTYA 2009 Finalists in Young Adult Fiction Category
- Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
When music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians, his talent attracts Nuala, a faerie muse who fosters and feeds on creative energies, but soon he finds himself battling the Queen of the Fey for the very lives of Deirdre and Nuala.
- Eli the Good by Silas House
In the summer of 1976, ten-year-old Eli Book's excitement over Bicentennial celebrations is tempered by his father's flashbacks to the Vietnam War and other family problems, as well as concern about his tough but troubled best friend, Edie.
- Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
In 1986, when seventeen-year-old Daniel's father arrives in Madison, Wisconsin, after five years of torture as a political prisoner in Chile, Daniel and his eighteen-year-old "gringa" girlfriend, Courtney, use different methods to help this bitter, self-destructive stranger who yearns to return home and continue his work.
- Hellie Jondoe by Randall Platt
In 1918, as the Great War ends and the Spanish influenza pandemic begins, thirteen-year-old Hellie Jondoe survives on the streets of New York as a beggar and pickpocket until she boards the orphan train to Oregon, where she learns about loyalty, honesty, and the meaning of family.
- Shadow of the Leopard by Henning Mankell
Sofia, who lost her legs as a child, is now grown up with children in Mozambique, but when she discovers that Armando, the father of her children, is cheating on her, she leaves him, igniting his terrible rage.
- The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
Dante, a prisoner sent from fifteenth-century Italy into the present time as punishment, meets and falls in love with Abby, a high school senior who may be the only one who can save him.
- Vanishing Girl by Shane Peacock
In broad daylight, a high society girl vanishes on a crowded street. Days pass, then weeks; the daring abduction remains an impenetrable mystery, without a ransom note, a single clue, or even public information. The moment young Sherlock reads about it, he knows that it's the case that will make his name.
For the whole list: ForeWord
(Summaries taken from the library catalog)