Our Latest News and Reviews:

The Art of Secrets - YA Review by Ayan L



Reader: Ayan L.
Age: 12
Title: The Art of Secrets
Author: James Klise
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pub Date: 04/22/14
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I think you should read the book because the plot changes and, if you like mystery, you would will love it.
Memorable or Forgettable: When she met the boy on Facebook she really didn't know him and she just started dating him.
Cover: Yes, but I thought it was about art. 
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
AnnotationA girl named Saba Khan really loves tennis . Her house burns down and her family doesn't know who did it . Her friends find this art that belongs to the Khan's and is worth alot of money . It's a mystery - will the Khan's get their money and who burned down the house???


tags:  mystery / ya lit

Firefight - YA Review by Tristan HB



Reader: Tristan HB
Age: 14
Title: Firefight
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: 01/06/15
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The characters were relatable and seemed so real.
Memorable or Forgettable: The fact that the powers corrupted the Epics rather than make them heroic.
Cover: The cover did reflect the contents and tempted me to pick up the book.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  science fiction / dystopian / superheroes / The Reckoners series / ya lit



Seed - YA Review by Veronica K



Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 14
Title: Seed
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Publisher: Running Press
Pub Date: 03/10/15
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was interesting. The plot was okay, but it was really the only thing that was developed. The main character was too easily swayed one way or another for something that she was raised for. And I have no idea who the antagonist was, the new kid or the evil ruler. Neither of them were talked about strongly enough to be considered. And the problem solver was a character I had never heard of. This book seemed like the author had a great idea, but forgot to tell people about it.
Memorable or Forgettable: This was an interesting idea. It was freaky on sooooo many levels, but it was good. If it was better developed, I might remember it well enough to call it good.
Cover: The cover is boring. And boringer. Although it does match the contents, but the contents are not something you can put into a picture.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags:  drama / cults / physical and emotional abuse / ya lit



Ask the Dark - YA Review by Rayna Grace C



Reader: Rayna Grace C.
Age: 16
Title: Ask the Dark
Author: Henry Turner
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub Date: 04/07/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book did not pack as much of a thematic punch that I expected, although it still deserves some awards for being unafraid to be original.  I wish there had been more connections made during the duration of the novel directly relating the vital differences in mentalities between petty criminals and murderers, since both the protagonist and the antagonist in the story would be considered suspicious people to meet while walking down an empty street.  I realize that was probably the point of the novel, but I just don't believe it was driven in deep enough: Billy's redemption through fame and monetary gain felt slightly hollow and seemed too eager to end all Billy's problems instead of addressing the issues underlying Billy's struggle of being labeled as a bad/dangerous/unwanted person because he committed crimes.  However, I will admit that the unconventional character choice itself was pretty fantastic, allowing Billy to be his own character, omitting some (not all; he still is a white male) of the traits found in the typical hero archetype.  My favorite aspect of Billy was his honesty in the retelling, which seemed to very obviously contrast with his petty criminal dealings.  Overall, I admired the book's willingness to fight the typical plot devices and character molds found in YA lit.  The change in pace from day-to-day YA literature was bold, but I wish that the book had really worked the thematic overtones during all the drama and mystery at the end instead of focusing on Billy's sudden wealth.
Memorable or Forgettable: What made this book memorable was what it didn't do. Although sometimes I felt the book was missing thematic depth, it did fight most of the typical YA book norms.  I admired that no character was without flaw or emotion, despite their brief descriptions.  I admired that no female characters were uselessly inserted into the novel as plot devices so they could use their feminine wiles to teach the main character compassion or obedience, or to create any love triangles constructed to somehow thicken the plot where the editor believed the novel fell flat (believe me, this doesn't work).  I admired that the book never glorified or sensationalized the horrific crimes addressed, or objectified the victims of those crimes into a list of injuries and traumas instead of a person.  Keeping all of those things absent in more YA crime books/YA books/all books would make this world a much better place.  This book takes us one more step into the future.
Cover: I fully respect the designer who created this cover.  The amber glowing shack sitting front and center, along with the tree branches roughly crisscrossing along the rest of the cover, and the translucent title letters creates the exact mood for this novel:  dark, down to earth, ominous and hopeful all at once, with the transparency of a small town too shocked with the murder of one of their children to notice the details like a boy always immersed in crime himself.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 5Q - Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  mystery / thriller / ya lit



Rat Runners - YA Review by Eli S-M



Reader: Eli S-M.
Age: 15
Title: Rat Runners
Author: Oisin McGann
Publisher: Open Road Media
Pub Date: 01/13/15
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I would recommend this book for a variety of reasons. First of all, the world is both inventive and exciting. The reader is caught up in the paranoia of constant surveillance, and the presence of security cameras and other detection systems lead to adventure. Secondly, the characters are very well developed. You become attached to each of the four unique thieves and their distrusting interactions feel very genuine. Thirdly, the plot races along at a quick, exciting pace, leaving no time for boredom.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was memorable to me mainly because of the unique world. The novel is set in the near future, and there seems to be just the right combination of relatable facts and sci-fi technology. Moreover, every consequence of the constant surveillance that is part of the book's premise is explored, leading to elements such as networks of underground mobster's lairs/speakeasies, a secret trade in George Orwell's 1984, and reality shows depicting real people from around the city.
Cover: The cover of this book turned me off slightly. While it does somewhat reflect the contents of the book, I would prefer a cover that focused on the four thieves or one of their heists.
Age Range: Under 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
AnnotationFour young thieves are caught up in an intricate criminal plot that threatens to take their lives. In order to save their own skins, they must navigate a city crawling with surveillance and outsmart both the police and the scheming mobsters who seek to control them.


tags:  dystopian / action / suspense / science fiction / ya lit



The Summer I Found You - YA Review by Samantha G



Reader: Samantha G.
Age: 13
Title: The Summer I Found You
Author: Jolene Perry
Publisher: AW Teen
Pub Date: 03/01/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Even though Aiden started off hating his disability, the strong part was he started trying to live with his disability because of Kate. At first Kate was kinda being selfish about her disability and how she has type 1 diabetes, there are people who have it way worse than her, but at the end she finally began to see what happens if she doesn't take it seriously. Aidan and Kate both needed each other to understand themselves and each other.
Memorable or Forgettable: What made it memorable was two disabled people finding each other and starting to feel different emotions than they have had without each other. It was nice to hear both point of views and how they thought of each other.
Cover: The cover did look look interesting for me to pick up.The heart on the cover was accurate to the book.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  romance / coming of age / ya lit



Some Kind of Normal - YA Review by Claire W



Reader: Claire W.
Age: 13
Title: Some Kind of Normal
Author: Juliana Stone
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 05/05/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The book was super sweet. It shows that sometimes people seem perfect but really aren't. The relationship in the book also seems real - not instant love. The dialogue was well written.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was pretty forgettable because the love story wasn't really anything special.
Cover: The cover was forgettable and not well done.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 2Q - Needs more work
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  romance / coming of age / ya lit



The Rule of Three - YA Review by Simon D-S



Reader: Simon D-S
Age: 14
Title: The Rule of Three
Author: Eric Walters
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 01/21/14
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book had good plot, characters, and the dialogue was authentic. The plot did a nice job distributing the major events of the book, first nicely going through all of the chaos of the blackout, then the setup of the community, and finally the external problems. One of the most important elements, I thought, was the variety or character viewpoints. The author was very good at portraying all of the perspectives on the blackout and the building of the community. Finally, the dialogue was realistic for a sort of apocalyptic setting. There was the right amount of nervousness, paranoia, and mob mentality to keep everything just fine and dandy. 
Memorable or Forgettable: I really like any book that is about society's response to catastrophe. I thought this book did a great job of that. They had all the classics, like community mutiny, but also some flavor of their own, like a freaking PLANE. By far, if I remember anything at all in my adult life, it will be the freaking PLANE.
Cover: Yes. I definitely got the vibe of the book from the cover, and I was like "Yes, please." 
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  coming of age / post-apocalyptic / ya lit



Feral Pride - YA Review by Theo S-M



Reader: Theo S-M
Age: 12
Title: Feral Pride
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 02/24/15
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book had pretty good characters, but read the first book first - it will help very much. Again, the plot will be better understood if you have read the whole series.
Memorable or Forgettable: The plot is hard to forget. So are some character interactions.
Cover: The cover was pretty good, but could have been a little better (the lion is poorly photoshopped).
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
AnnotationThis book is about a group of shifters (shapeshifters) who society has hated for years. They are on a brave mission that may save their kind.


tags:  suspense / paranormal romance / action / shapeshifters / humor / urban fantasy / Feral Nights series / ya lit



The Novice (Summoner Book One) - YA Review by Veronica K



Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 14
Title: The Novice (Summoner Book One)
Author: Taran Matharu
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pub Date: 05/05/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I liked this book. The plot moved well, with everything happening at a speed worth reading. All the characters were believable, but some of the nobles could have been developed a little bit better. I would like to know more about them. But the main character, Fletcher, was conceivably stupid enough to have been from a secluded village in the middle of nowhere with no access to anything - he was kind enough and he was mean enough. Things were explained well, and I felt like I had enough information throughout the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: The most memorable thing about this book is that it is not a repeat of the past six or seven books I have read lately. It feels more original. It also feels like quality writing, something else that is lacking. Finally, the darn cliffhanger has guaranteed I will not forget this book for a long while.
Cover: The cover was the reason I picked it up. I so want that jacket. Anyone who wears that jacket is a good character.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  fantasy / adventure / The Summoner Trilogy / ya lit