The first is The Boundless and it was recommended by our friend Micah. I'm glad I took him up on this recommendation because I really enjoyed this! What's it about? The library's catalog page summarizes it well:
The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across Canada, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life! When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past. In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will's father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?
Yep, that's a good summary. but is leaves out a few things. The train is 1000 cars and about seven miles long! There are actual sasquatch and other creatures of legend (some of them really nasty) living in those Canadian woods. I can't begin to tell you how much action there is in this story! It's an epic tale and you'll really get into it. Besides, it doesn't tell you that Will joins the magicians in the circus and learns a lot of their tricks. That leads to a lot of question of what is real on the train and what's a trick, an illusion. (told you there'd be good discussion topics!)
The second is Airborn. What a great story! I actually listened to this. It's what they call a Playaway--basically an MP3 player with a book loaded on it. And what a tremendous job they did with it. It was produced by Full Cast Audio, a company put together by that great kids' author Bruce Coville. They hire one actor to read the book (and, in this case, play the main character) and have other actors to be the other characters. It really works and makes the book play out like a movie in your head. Here's what the book is about:
Matt Cruse has the life he has always dreamed of as a cabin boy on the Aurora, a luxury passenger airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean. Then one night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies who are completely real and utterly mysterious. Matt eventually teams up with Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of those mysterious winged creatures. Why? Because the dying balloonist was her grandfather! But, before they can start their search, they run across---well, I'm not going to tell you! Ha ha ha ha! But, believe me, it changes everything and makes things much, much more dangerous.
Interested? I bet! You really gotta read this one. Or get the Playway version and listen to it. It's long--about 10 hours and it takes the first four chapters to build this marvelous world--but, once the action starts, you won't be able to pull yourself away.
So go out and get these. But be aware, these are listed as YA books primarily because of the length and complexity which would make them more suitable for older readers guys. (I bet someone from 10--14 would like them) Also, although, there is nothing really graphically graphic in these books, the bad guys meet gruesome ends. But, for your older or more advanced reader guys, I couldn't think of anything more perfect!
And, to whet your appetites, here's a book trailer for The Boundless. Enjoy!