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The Secrets We Keep - YA Review by Sophie F



Reader: Sophie F.
Age: 13
Title: The Secrets We Keep
Author: Trisha Leaver
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pub Date: 04/28/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I liked this book. I thought it was an interesting plot line, but if you aren't a twin, it might not be as significant or as meaningful as it was to me (I have a twin sister). This book seemed especially real to me because I could imagine this happening to me. The character development was okay, but not crazy good. Same with dialogue.
Memorable or Forgettable: I will remember this book because it seemed so real. Except for the storybook ending, I could believe that this actually happened.
Cover: It wasn't so much the cover that tempted me, but the title. The cover photo itself didn't accurately describe the plot or what the book was about.
Age Range: Under 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal
Additional CommentsThis book was good, but not especially flashy unless you are a twin.


tags: drama / coming of age / ya lit



The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days - YA Review by Courtney D



Reader: Courtney D.
Age: 18
Title: The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days
Author: Lisa Yee
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: 03/31/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I almost stopped reading this book after the first chapter, but I am glad I chose to finish it. The book started out on the last week of their senior year, but some of the characters acted like they were in elementary school. The characters were so shallow that I almost stopped reading the book right then and there. However as the book continued, the characters, especially the main character, gained a lot of depth. It was great to see how the he grew and developed in only a week of his life, yet the author managed to make his transition believable. It was a cute book and a quick read that I enjoyed reading (almost) all the way through. The book even made me laugh a few times.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was not particularly memorable. It was a good book but nothing made it stand out from all the other teen books I've read.
Cover: The cover tempted me to pick up the book. I really liked the stylistic choice of having the main characters drawn on the cover around the title of the book. The title was also very unique and made me immediately curious as to what the book was about.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  coming of age / ya lit



Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown - YA Review by Ella O



Reader: Ella O.
Age: 14
Title: Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown
Author: Michael Alan Nelson
Publisher: Pyr
Pub Date: 05/05/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I liked how the plot was set out with its twists. I also liked the change shown in Lucifer throughout the story and how she gets a glimpse at a normal life even if she couldn't keep it.
Memorable or Forgettable: The general story was quite enveloping and that, along with the bit of a cliff hanger at the end of the book that hints at a sequel (which I will be watching for), is what makes this book memorable for me.
Cover: I think the cover does reflect the contents of magic with the fire bunny thing. However, if you play up the magic part some more I think it'll be more eye-catching.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 5Q - Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsPlease please please make another book. This story was so exciting to read for me.
Annotation: Lucifer is a thief of unusual things. She steals bad things from bad people and almost everything is involved with magic.


tags: fantasy / magic / suspense / romance / ya lit



Palace of Lies - YA Review by Claire W



Reader: Claire W.
Age: 13
Title: Palace of Lies
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 04/07/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I thought the overall plot was just okay. The story wasn't so original that the writing could be sub-par. The main character is extremely paranoid which gets very very tiresome because she trusts no one. Not even the people who have saved her life repeatedly.
Memorable or Forgettable: The plot made it very forgettable and so did the love interest. The love story was the same old story and a bit immature.
Cover: The cover was very well done and probably one of the reasons I picked it up in the first place.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Desmia is a princess. But she is one of 13 for the kingdom of Suala. Desmia doesn't trust any of her sister princesses. But then one night the palace is burned to the ground. Desmia is told that all of her sister princesses are dead but she believes otherwise.


tags:  suspense / The Palace Chronicles series / ya lit




Zodiac - YA Review by Courtney D



Reader: Courtney D.
Age: 18
Title: Zodiac
Author: Romina Russell
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub Date: 12/09/14
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Zodiac is a very good pre-teen to early-teen book. It is a very good space adventure story with a unique and interesting plot. It was well paced and the action started from the very beginning. There is also a dynamic and strong female lead which is very important for younger teen girls to be able to read about. My main problem with the book, however, is that it follows the stereotype that since there is a female main character, both the main male characters have to be in love with them. One of the relationships is extremely unlikely and not very appropriate which really bothered me while reading. Other than that, it was a very enjoyable book.
Memorable or Forgettable: Zodiac is not a very memorable book for me.  It was a good book but was aimed at a younger audience. There wasn’t anything in particular that majorly stood out. The plot was good but only got complex at the very end. I would have enjoyed it much more if I was a few years younger, but I think it will be very liked by younger teens. I still hope to read the sequel if given the chance.
Cover: The cover was very effective in getting me to choose the book. The title itself is short and to the point, and gained my interest. The cover was unique and very well designed in order to display the content of the book.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags: science fiction / romance / adventure / mythology / ya lit



Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You - YA Review by Brooke H



Reader: Brooke H.
Age: 16
Title: Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You
Author: Todd Hasak-Lowy
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub Date: 03/24/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: When it comes to this book, I don't know whether to say it was strong or weak.  I did like the author's writing, how his description and word choice sucked us into the story as if we were right there next to the protagonist, Darren.  I also liked how far the author brought us into the mind of Darren, making him seem incredibly real.  The whole list concept, too, must have taken a lot of planning, and I commend him for it.  However, the plot itself was kind of boring.  It really seemed to be about an average guy going about his average life. Also, there didn't seem to be a conclusion.  Problems in the relationships between the protagonist and the other characters didn't seem to be resolved, and I also didn't really see the growth of Darren's character; It seemed like he became accepting of his life all of a sudden out of nowhere rather than the usual, more realistic gradual change.  I also got annoyed with how much the characters complained about things that really didn't warrant complaint.
Memorable or Forgettable: What made this book memorable for me is quite obvious: the fact that it was written in lists.  I really appreciate the author's attempt at being unique, and, as aforementioned, it must have taken quite a bit more planning than the average book. Sometimes it was hard to remember what exactly the list was, though, and I'd have to go back to look.  Another memorable aspect was how real and true to life it was.  I really appreciated that the author didn't censor certain details just to please audiences, but rather wrote how it would actually be in real life.
Cover: I really liked the cover.  It was simple, artsy, and had a cool font.  I would probably be attracted to it in a bookstore.  As for reflecting the contents, it's mostly just words so not really, but the protagonist and the girl he liked had an artsy thing going between them, so that could explain the artsy background. 
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags: coming of age / lists / ya lit



Backlash - YA Review by Dana F



Reader: Dana F.
Age: 13
Title: Backlash
Author: Sarah Darer Littman
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub Date: 04/28/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  Basically this girl tries to kill herself because of some really mean things that someone said on her Facebook page. The repercussions are deadly(no pun intended). I really liked the plot because it was original and unpredictable. The major characters were very developed, as well as the minor characters. That helped hold my attention throughout. This was a very realistic book, too.
Memorable or Forgettable: Like I said, the plot was good. I liked how the posts on Facebook affected all the characters in different ways. I could really relate to the characters, too. I loved how even the bully became a victim after the attempted suicide.
Cover: I was instantly pulled in by the cover. It definitely related to the contents, too.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags: coming of age / social media / teen suicide / dysfunctional families / ya lit



The Witch Hunter - YA Review by Ella O


Reader: Ella O.
Age: 14
Title: The Witch Hunter
Author: Virginia Boecker
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 06/02/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: A futuristic twist on the Renaissance times. Some fairly good character development seen in the main character. The dialogue isn't vulgar in a concernable way so it's better for varied ages. The plot might have been a bit predictable but I still loved it.
Memorable or Forgettable: I love magic and wizardry so I was automatically attracted to it. But I like the story ending.
Cover: I loved this cover. It was cool and eye catching. However I'm not entirely sure how it relates to the book. 
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsThis was a good book to read. Thank you.
Annotation: Elizabeth is a witch hunter working for the king. When she is falsely accused of being a witch herself she goes into a whole new world of unknown things.


tags: fantasy / magic / suspense / adventure / ya lit



Powerless - YA Review by Perrin S.


Reader: Perrin S.
Age: 16
Title: Powerless
Author: Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 06/02/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I found three main stylistic problems with this book:

World Building
This book had real big problem with world building. Basically there was none. I got the basic "people have super powers here" and "Superheros don't like villains and vice versa" but other than that there wasn't much else to describe what the world was or how it functions. For example, the main character calls some people heroes, does that mean that they wear tights and have epic battles with villains in the streets like classical comics? Superman exists in this world, then how did the real events in this world effect the stories? Have people always had powers? How would that have affected history? In this world supers have tattoos that identify them as hero or villain, but for most of the story I had no idea how they got there. I didn't know if people got them when they decided what category they wanted to be in or what. Then I find out that the tattoos just magically appear. Why? I HAVE NO FREAKIN IDEA. Then that leads to the question of how villains and heroes are determined. And if Draven said that fifty years ago the heroes decided to split the supers into heroes and villains, then why do magically appearing tattoos decide what somebody is? None of these questions are really answered. The lack of world building in this story is really frustrating, I almost threw the book against the wall several times because basic foundation was missing. I think the world is an interesting idea but it's not fleshed out. The author gave us the minimum explanation of the world necessary to understand the plot. It needs more. 

Repetition
So about half this book seems to be the main character's self reflection, which within itself is a problem, but almost every reflection is one of two speeches that is repeated throughout the book. I have found those speeches to be 1. I don't need powers to be special (Which once she realizes she has powers is completely thrown out the window, then powers are all that matter) and 2. Maybe not all villains are bad, it's not black and white. This repetition is really annoying because I'm absolutely sick of it by about half way through the book. That and single words are repeated too much throughout the book (which I blame mostly on a poor writing style). For example the word villain appears way too much in this book - I know its essential to the story but there must be a way to cut down on the word itself. 

Characterization
By the end of the book I hated the main character. She was kinda boring and so righteous to the point it was annoying (and boring). I felt that she lacked much depth. She felt like the shell of a person, she wasn't complex, or interesting, or surprising. She also had this 'I don't need to be protected’ motto to the point that she doesn’t want her own mother to protect her. However, enter hot guy and that motto gets thrown out. Daven is constantly trying to protect the main character and for the most part she doesn't seem to mind. Why would she ditch one of her guiding principles for some guy, that's very shallow. I have found that the plot of a good story needs to be guided by the main character, however in this book the plot seemed to be something that was happening to her. She could be completely taken out and the plot would hardly be affected. This makes the story rather boring. I think it would have been more interesting from Rebel's point of view, or maybe Dante. 
Memorable or Forgettable: This book seemed fairly generic and rather forgettable. The plot seems like something pushed out only for making money. It lacks soul. And honestly it seems like a first draft, a good first draft but still far from completion.
Cover: The cover is fine. Artistically its pretty good.  Though I don't understand why there is a big eye with fireworks inside on the cover, I  can't say its really relevant to the story. A lot of YA novels seems to have eyes on the cover. Why? I don't know. But this book just fits into the large pile of books with eyes. For that reason I can't say the cover was really intriguing. Actually the only reason I picked it up was because it was in the rather empty new book section. I'm not a fan of having the title on the side either, it makes it somewhat hard to identify and sorta makes it off to the side and out of mind. Plus after the quote there is a big empty space and it took me a while to figure out that the title was supposed to finish the quote.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 2Q - Needs more work
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags:  fantasy / suspense / ya lit



Of Scars and Stardust - YA Review by Courtney D


Reader: Courtney D.
Age: 18
Title: Of Scars and Stardust
Author: Andrea Hannah
Publisher: Flux
Pub Date: 10/08/14
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I got the ending of the book spoiled for me before reading it which greatly affected my experience reading it. However I still enjoyed it. There was a great twist at the end which when told before reading it seemed ridiculous, but by knowing the outcome I was able to find clues throughout the book. It is very hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, but what I will say is that the narration was the highlight. There was an unreliable narrator which made you wonder what was real and what never even happened.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book is definitely memorable. It was one of those books that after reading it you need to reflect on. This book also had an interesting genre. It had romance, mystery, suspense, and a sense of the supernatural. It is nice to find a book that does not just stick itself into one category. For this reason, Of Scars and Stardust is a book that I will remember for a long time.
Cover: I decided to read the book before I saw the cover, so it was not responsible for getting me to pick it up. It is, however, a pretty decent cover. It wouldn't stand out to me if I was just browsing but it reflects a major idea of the book pretty well.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags: paranormal / psychological thriller / romance / ya lit