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The League of Seven - YA Review by Derek D


Reader:  Derek D.
Age: 12
Title: The League of Seven
Author: Alan Gratz
Publisher: Starscape
Pub Date: 08/19/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Anyone interested in clockwork automatons, secret societies, alternate histories, monsters that lurk in shadows, or an overall creative world, should be sure to pick up a copy of The League of Seven. I really enjoyed how this book tied heroes from legends into the secret history of a world where Native Americans and Yankees are banded together under the United Nations and the internet is a series of tubes. The plot of the book really kept me interested, as it warped some of history's greatest inventors into power hungry villains or paranoid scientists. The characters really developed as they came closer together to prevent the rising of the Mangleborn. This book was a really fun and enjoyable read.
Memorable or Forgettable: The creative world and interesting play on history and historical figures really make this book memorable.
Cover: The cover tempted me to pick up this book because of all the different types of characters and things happening to them that are shown. Right off the bat, I see a mustached robot, a girl with small brass animals hovering around her, and a boy that is covered in black lines and doesn't seem to notice that he's being electrocuted. All these things made me curious to figure out how they tied into the book. The cover did a really good job of reflecting the books contents and showing what the characters look like.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags:  fantasy / steampunk / alternate history / ya lit




Reader: Claire W.
Age: 12
Title: Killer Instinct
Author: S.E. Green
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub Date: 05/06/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book was bad. I usually don't read books involving serial killers, but I took a chance this time. I will never read one again. I at least had hoped to be a bit scared after reading this book, but I wasn't at all. The book was poorly written and the "gory or scary" sections were on the edge of "PG" rated.
     The main character, Lane, was uninteresting and sub-parley written. She had no emotion - like the author was trying to make it seem like she was a sociopath, but it just felt like the character was unfinished. For example, Lane makes a fairly big decision in her life, but her attitude toward it is that she just wanted to get it over with. Lane also has way too many opinions.  Everything mentioned in the book was followed by her opinion which also made the book move quite slowly.
     The plot was fairly predictable until the end. The author put a twist in the end. Which I would usually encourage, but not in this case. The twist just felt like a bad late night crime show that goes on for too many seasons. Another mistake in the book was the pace. It moved at a snail's pace. And the only reason I was able to finish it was by reading as fast as I could just to get it over with.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was completely forgettable because of the quality of writing and the bad plot.
Cover: The pre-publication cover was gross and turned me off the book more than it hooked me.  The cover was changed for publication and the newer cover is okay but not a hook to the reader.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 1Q How did it get published?
Popularity: 1P Yech! Forced to read it

tags:  thriller / serial killers / ya lit



The Girl from the Well - YA Review by Ella O



Reader: Ella O.
Age: 13
Title: The Girl from the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 08/05/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The character development went really well. You see the change happen before the book describes it. Good dialogue, though occasionally vulgar. Some good sense of sarcasm.
Memorable or Forgettable:  I liked how the main character - Tark - developed. I also loved his relationship and how he coped with certain spirits.
Cover: The cover certainly gives it a sense of eeriness, though I chose it due to seeing the title then reading the short blurb on the back of the book.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsI'm glad the author gave the background story for everyone. It helps the book not be as confusing.
Additional: A good thriller type book. There is good heritage base and plenty of ghosts and demons in for the ride.

tags:  horror / Japanese myth / ya lit



My Life with the Walter Boys - YA Review by Tara L



Reader: Tara L.
Age: 14
Title: My Life with the Walter Boys
Author: Ali Novak
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 03/01/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  I really loved the book because it was realistic and had good character development. I think other readers would like it because it's an easy book to get into. Jackie's  family dies in a car accident. Instead of living in New York with her dad's old roommate she is sent to Colorado to live with 12 boys. At first they all hate her and make her life bad, but then they get to know her and they all start to be more nice. Two of all the boys like her -  Alex, the nerd and Cole, the hottest guy in school.
Memorable or Forgettable: The qualities that made the book memorable are it is funny but serious at the same time. It has a love triangle which in my opinion is awesome.
Cover:  I really like the cover and it does reflect the contents.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags:  contemporary romance / ya lit




Amity - YA Review by Nick B



Reader: Nick B.
Age: 14
Title: Amity
Author: Micol Ostow
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub Date: 08/26/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: A thrilling horror novel that makes you think until the very end. The author made this an even better book by throwing in 2 characters 10 years apart. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between their experiences. I personally liked the ending the best but to know why you will just have to read the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: Something I thought the author did well was throw in verses of what seemed like poetry. Her descriptions where spot on and couldn't have made the characters more real. This and a clever plot made a great reading experience. I was not able to put this book down.
Cover: I thought the cover could have been more original after I read the book. It definitely caught my eye and made me pick up the book but it seemed a little unoriginal. I would have put a blood red river and thunder clouds raining stone on the cover after reading the book.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags:  horror / ya lit




A Matter of Souls - YA Review by Hannah W



Reader: Hannah W.
Age: 17
Title: A Matter of Souls
Author: Denise Lewis Patrick
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Pub Date: 04/01/14
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This collection of short stories explores a huge range of emotions which allows the reader to be able to connect with the characters. While each story focused on different characters there was still character development within each story which greatly enhanced the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: I really liked how the stories were all different and had different characters but still fit together in a collection. I also found the stories easy to connect with because they were all displaying emotions that everyone feels at some point in their life.
Cover:  I really like the cover and I think it suits the book well. The cover is rather mysterious and intriguing which caused me to pick up the book in the first place.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional CommentsThe book did have some heavy themes so I won't recommend it for younger teens.
AnnotationThis book is a collection of short stories which discusses the life, dreams and tragedies of African and African-American men and women throughout the years.

tags:  short story / African American experience / ya lit




Egg & Spoon - YA Review by Lian S



Reader: Lian S.
Age: 18
Title: Egg & Spoon
Author: Gregory Maguire
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 09/09/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: My immediate thought about Egg & Spoon was that the narrator is brilliant. He's rather snarky, and even though he's technically a minor character in the story itself, you get to know him as a reader because his voice is so incredibly strong. It's almost like poetry, in a way, because he describes events and settings in ways that I had never pictured before.
     The story itself is intriguing, too. It was simply different from all the books I've read before. This is partly because I'm not all that familiar with the culture the story is set in, but it's also because a lot of separate ideas are combined to create something unique.  
Memorable or Forgettable: It's been weeks since I read it and I still have really vivid images of parts of the book. That's the case for a lot of books, but these images are particularly unique: the floating pavilions, dolls lined up like ducks, Cat looking out of the train at the beginning of the book. There was this feeling of love and of all sides of a story that I remember in a really positive way.
Cover: Finally, a legitimately good cover! I really like covers that have actual art, and this is one of them. Everything about it fits the book. The actual picture sort of tells the story itself, if you look first at the train on the bottom and then move your eyes up to the very top. The oval that could be egg, spoon, or both also fits the feeling of the book really well. This is one of those rare covers that actually works quite well. I do think a large part of that is because it's art, instead of, say, a picture of a pretty girl.
Age Range: Under 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it

tags:  fantasy / Russian folklore / ya lit




Just Call My Name - YA Review by Ella O



Reader: Ella O.
Age: 13
Title: Just Call My Name
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Pub Date: 08/05/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: A story of two kids from a severely broken home, taken in by good hearted people. Some characters could use a little more work.
Memorable or Forgettable: good storyline with feminine hero roles.
Cover: To be honest, I don't think the cover reflected the book very well. The back of the book is what intrigued me.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Commentspretty good

tags:  suspense / ya lit




Monstrous Affections - YA Review by Grace KL



Reader: Grace KL
Age: 15
Title: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales
Author: Kelly Link and Gavin T. Grant
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 09/09/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: As is often the case with short story anthologies, some stories in this book were quite good, and others not as much.  Overall, it seems that the shorter stories in the book, in which we only given quick snapshots of the characters and their monstrous aspects or relationships with monsters were more enjoyable to read because they allowed the reader to fill in gaps with their own imaginations.
Memorable or Forgettable: One of the more engaging stories, entitled Son of Abyss, follows characters with varying and unique monstrous characteristics, which made the story feel fresh and exciting.  But stories involving frequently seen monsters such as vampires and werewolves were somewhat forgettable.
Cover: The cover tempted me because it showed a monster that wasn't immediately seen as a vampire or werewolf.  I was also drawn to the idea of a book about monsters rather than supernatural creatures.  The cover did a good job of showing the overall nature of the book.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags:  anthology / short story / monsters / ya lit




The Island of Excess Love - YA Review by Guanani



Reader: Guanani
Age: 18
Title: The Island of Excess Love
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pub Date: 08/26/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I was not particularly pleased when I saw that there was a sequel to one of my favorite 2013 books, Love in the Time of Global Warming, since I enjoyed it so much as a stand-alone. Fortunately, I was not disappointed by the sequel. Excess Love doesn’t offer as much plot or world-building as the first book, but it does plunge into broader themes and explores the emotional narrative of the characters in an original and entertaining way. The story focuses on themes of illusion, blossoming sexuality, and betrayal, all playing out within a compact 200 pages.
Memorable or Forgettable: The dreamlike quality of the prose and the cast of sort-of-superpowered misfit survivors work well for diving into some real strangeness while telling an emotional storyline that feels true. However, the plot of this sequel was not as varied and imaginative as the first book, and at a couple points didn’t quite make sense. I don’t usually like romance novels, and since the emotions and romantic interest/love triangle was the focus of this story, I was a bit disappointed. At the same time, the Greek-ish post apocalypse landscape, original portrayals of sexuality, and fully developed characters make it an enjoyable book despite the romantic focus.
Cover: The cover annoyed me. It was enough like the first book to be interesting with its silhouettes and little clues, but did it have to be so very PINK? Also, this galley was chock full of typos, with misspellings, missing quotation marks and commas that sometimes made it hard to read.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags:  romance / post-apocalyptic / ya lit