It's a brand new year and that means it's a great time to discover new books. But while it's fun to peruse the stacks in your local bookstore for new releases, I wanted to recommend my two favourite established book series that you may not have seen - or perhaps you passed them by, not knowing how fabulous they are. Both are unique, exciting, and have great heroes. And both are far enough along in the series that you won't have to read the first book and then wait a whole excruciating year for the next book to come out - and by then you've forgotten half of the first book and have to read it again.

I hate that.

Anyway, there are three books in each series so far, so you can really sink your teeth into them. I'd say both series are for boys and girls aged 10 and up - both have some complexity to the plot that might be difficult for younger readers. Also, both have intense situations where the hero is in grave danger.

Itch - by Simon Mayo
First we have the brilliantly different story of a boy who collects the elements of the periodic table. Like zinc, boron, and magnesium. I know right? Such a good idea...and it's filled with science geekiness than anyone can get into. I'm more of an artist than a scientist, and yet I was fascinated by the could-actually-be-real science parts of the series. When Itchingham Lofte discovers a new, highly radio-active element, he becomes its unwilling protector as bad guys seek to harness its explosive power. You know I love stories about kids saving the world. And the fact that the hero of the books is called "Itch" makes me very happy. My name is Ginger, so as you can imagine, I like to read about people with odd names. It's smart, fun, and definitely one of my top recommendations for any middle grader.

the Eight Day - by Dianne K. Salerni
Secondly, I have to suggest y'all read this highly entertaining adventure about the modern day heirs of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. It begins when Jax Aubrey discovers the existence of a completely unknown and invisible eighth day of the week. As if that isn't strange enough, he learns that he is part of a magical order that created the eighth day to imprison some very nasty wizards - who would do anything to escape. The characters are fascinating and it is, in my opinion, the perfect mixture of our known world and one that is completely made up. I don't often buy an entire series of books, but this is definitely one that I'm collecting. Ooh, and the characters have tattoos. I don't know why that should appeal to me, but it does.

I kinda want a tattoo...

When shopping for new books this year, don't just head for the new releases - check out the book series that have been around a while. The ones you saw on the book shelf and for whatever reason, walked away from. There are gems everywhere. And that one you just put back on the shelf could be your new favorite.