top of page

YA Book Reviews

Reviewed books rated on a scale of 1 (lousy) to 10 (fantastic)


A Curse so Dark and Lonely  7/10

by Brigid Kemmerer (YA Fantasy)

Rhen is the prince of a ruined kingdom, cursed by a cruel enchantress to relive the season of autumn until he can find a girl to break his curse with true love, assuming he doesn't turn into a vicious beast and kill her first. Enter Harper, a girl sucked into Rhen's world when she tries to save a stranger. With time running out to save both Rhen and the kingdom of Emberfall, Harper must decide between going back to the family she loves or saving a world in which she is a stranger. 


I found this book to be less predictable that normal, which I enjoyed very much. The plot was an excellent take on Beauty and the Beast, and was completely different that every other take that I've seen on this popular tale. The protagonist was probably my favorite part of the book, I really enjoyed reading it through her eyes and the book would have suffered if her characterization had been different. Though this book was good, I personally was not a fan of the ending or the romance, which is, unfortunately, a love triangle.   The action happened too fast with too much buildup and the conflict just seemed to continue, setting the reader up for a second book, one that I am not particularly anticipating. 


Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1) 4/10

by Zoraida Cordova (YA Fantasy)


This story is a modern twist on a traditional coming of age ceremony that centers around a Mexican family of Brujas or witches. In an effort to rid herself of her bruja powers, Alex, the protagonist, accidentally makes her family disappear to an alternate dimension and embarks on a quest to return them home and save the world as she knows it.


Though I liked the overall concept of the book, I found the plot to be somewhat predictable and didn’t enjoy the main character as much as I thought I would. This made the book less enjoyable and one that I definitely could have gone without reading. I think that multiple people might appreciate this story, it was just too similar to many books that I have read and didn’t live up to my expectations.



Heartless  8/10

by Marissa Meyer (YA Fantasy)

***Spoiler Alert***

I'm not sure it's really a spoiler - the book is supposed to be the story about how the Queen of Hearts became the cruel tyrant in Wonderland, so I don't think anyone can read it expecting a happy ending, but just in case, I put the warning.  Don't read any farther if you want to be completely surprised!

Lady Catherine Pinkerton of Hearts just wants to own a bakery.  Instead, she is pushed by her parents to make an advantageous marriage (she is, after all, only a girl - not expected to work or run a business).  Even worse, she falls for a man who is not her royal suitor, or part of her social class.  Cath is forced to choose between happiness and duty. Adventure and tragedy ensue.

Knowing not to expect a happily-ever-after, I really liked the book.  Preferring a happily-ever-after, I didn't love it.  The story is original, but is chock full of clever references to Lewis Carroll's tale. Marissa Meyer is an extremely talented storyteller, though, so it's hard for me not to enjoy her books.


The Sin Eater's Daughter  7/10

by Melinda Salisbury (YA Fantasy)


For four years, Twylla has been groomed to be the new queen of Lormere.  She was taken from her family to live in the castle to prepare for the day she will marry the prince.  Twylla has been obedient to all of the queen's commands because she believes she is fulfilling the will of the gods.  She's never questioned any of her duties until a handsome new guard enters her life and then everything begins to unravel.

This book was so entertaining that I didn't want to put it down.  I like the characters and am still torn between which suitor I like better. It leaves off with a bit of a cliffhanger, so I'm excited to start reading the next book.  It is suitable for most (no swearing), but there is implied sex (no description, but they wake up without clothes in bed together), and it has some violence. 

Eleanor & Park 9/10

Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor is a misfit. Her home life is a mess.  Park recognizes the beauty in Eleanor and slowly they develop a beautiful relationship. However, there are some things that can not be solved through teenage romance.

Eleanor & Park is a beautiful book that deals with serious issues like bullying and domestic abuse.  I would love to recommend it, but there is an uncomfortable amount of explicit swearing and some sexual situations.

Something to Blog About  6/10

by Shana Norris (YA Fiction)


Libby Fawcett is a typical teenage girl with typical teenage problems.  She decides to write about her life in a journal, but does it online in the form of a private blog. Predictably, her nemesis gets Libby's password and publishes her entries and Libby's problems become even worse (though, eventually everything works out for a happy ending).


It's a cute story with important lessons about honesty, friendship and internet awareness.  Recommended for anyone who wants a light, quick read.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear  9/10

by E.K Johnston (YA Fiction)

Hermoine Winters, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, is drugged and raped at cheerleading camp, though she doesn't remember much of what happened.  She must learn how to deal with this violent act without having the memories or feelings that should accompany it.

I thought it was a very good read that addresses a difficult subject. It's not necessary to do your homework before reading this book, but it will help you realize how clever the author is and it will make the book more enjoyable as you discover the similarities to Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. 

Small Damages  9/10

by Beth Kephart  (YA Fiction)

Kenzie is faced with a dilemma.  She is a senior in high school with her entire life ahead of her, but finds everything changing when she realizes she is pregnant.  Without the support of her mother or boyfriend, she is shipped to Spain to finish out the remainder of her pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption.


I really wanted to love this book.  Ok - I did love this book, but I wanted so much more!  The writing is absolute poetry - beautiful imagery and delicious metaphors - that causes time to pass way too quickly.  It was over before it began.  I just didn't believe the love and relationships as much as I should have.  I know the protagonist is confused, scared and feeling betrayed, and could have changed her feelings quickly, but I wanted more supporting character development.  I do realize, though, that the book is more about Kenzie's journey to find herself than about finding others.  I'd call it a must-read, keeping in mind that it is about teenage pregnancy, though there is nothing sexual in the book.

Fortune's Folly  7/10

by Deva Fagan (YA Fantasy)


Put The Elves and the Shoemaker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Shrek in a blender, and you'll end up with this super cute fairy tale by Deva Fagan.  Exactly what you'd expect and not much more, but a fun, easy read recommended for everyone who loves a happily-ever-after ending. 

Solitaire  9/10

by Alice Oseman (YA Fiction)

Most likely apparent from my book reviews, I am generally optimistic, and I enjoy most people and most experiences (and most books). Oddly enough, though, I appreciate novels in which the main character is thoroughly depressing, as is the protagonist in Solitaire, Tori Spring.  She finds everything and everyone annoying, and is genuinely unhappy.  However, instead of placing blame and focusing only on the unfavorable actions of the surrounding cast of characters, Alice Oseman uses her novel to show the importance of the people in Tori's life.  

Solitaire is thought-provoking and somewhat inspirational, and I think most of Tori's quirks are charming.  I recommend this, but point out that there is a lot of explicit swearing. 

Shadowland (The Mediator Series) 2/10

by Meg Cabot (YA Fiction/Fantasy)

Susannah and her mom move from New York City to California to live with her mom's new husband and three sons.   Susannah isn't thrilled about making new friends, attending a new school or adapting to life with a new family, but her biggest anxiety comes from the ghosts that live in her house and school. Susannah is a mediator - she can see and talk to the dead.

I like a lot of Meg Cabot books, but this is not one of them.  I could barely get through it and wouldn't have finished if I didn't have this review to write (I will not be reading the other 5 books in the series, either!).  I did just finish re-reading East of Eden, though, so the comparison was less than kind to the silly plot line, underdeveloped characters and mediocre writing in this book.  My advice - pick a different Meg Cabot book.

The Glass Cafe  6/10

by Gary Paulsen (YA Fiction)


The story of The Stripper and the State; How My Mother Started a War with the System That Made Us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous. is told from 11-year-old Tony's point of view.  While in sixth grade, Tony turns in his sketches of the erotic dancers in the dressing room of his mother's place of work, The Kit Kat Club, and chaos ensues.  

A very entertaining, quick read.  I think that because of the length (only 99 pages), I didn't have time to develop any connection to the characters.  I did want them to prevail, but I wasn't wholeheartedly invested in them or the story.  Also, written from Tony's point of view, while cute and well-done, was a little too disjointed for my taste.  Definitely a book for all ages, but Tony's mom is a stripper, so that might need to be a topic of discussion for younger kids.

Stargirl  8/10

by Jerry Spinelli


Stargirl is the new kid at Mica High School.  She has a pet rat, she carries a ukulele, and she decorates her desk in each of her classes with a tablecloth and flower.  What really makes her exceptional, though, is her kindness.  She is aware of everyone else's pain and happiness, failures and successes.  She is carefree and happy and more in tune with the world around her than with herself.


As I read Stargirl, I kept thinking about the episode of Friends in which Phoebe embarrasses Rachel with her goofy running stride.  Phoebe says, "You know, I run like I did when I was a kid because that's the only way it's fun. You know?"  Why are we afraid of being different?  Why are we afraid of people who are different?  Jerry Spinelli has written a story about the beauty of being unique and the tragedy of not being accepted for it.  

Carry On  8/10

by Rainbow Rowell (YA Fantasy)


Simon Snow is the prophesied "chosen one".  When we meet him, it is his last year at the Watford School for Magicks. His best friend is Penelope, a mage adept at spell casting; his nemesis is Baz, an assumed vampire; the Mage (head of the school) is Simon's guardian; and the school's goatherd, Ebb, is Simon's trustworthy friend and mentor.  Does any of this sound familiar? At first, I didn't know what to make of this book.  I thought it was a Harry Potter farce.  After researching a bit, I found out it is the fan fiction story from Fangirl, which prompted me to read that book (review below).  


Rainbow Rowell creates a unique spin on the magical hero, coming-of-age story.  I didn't want to put it down.  I loved the characters (especially Baz) and I enjoyed the plot.  I wish that it hadn't wrapped up so quickly - I thought the build up required more of a conclusion -and I thought there was an excess of unnecessary bad language, but those are my only two complaints.  I recommend it for mature readers because of language.

Fangirl 9/10

by Rainbow Rowell (YA Fiction)

Cath's freshmen year at college is worse than expected. Her twin sister has abandoned her, her roommate is a grouch, and she is surviving on protein bars because she is afraid to go to the dining hall alone.  Cath's only comfort comes from writing her fan fiction entries based on the Simon Snow series.  Cath must discover how to find happiness through real life friendships and experiences, but first she'll need to be willing to trust the new people in her life.

Rainbow Rowell is an exceptional writer.  She uses beautiful imagery and phrasing to help the reader feel everything the characters experience.  I loved this book, but I'm glad I read Carry On first so that the I had no spoilers.  As with other Rainbow Rowell books, I highly recommend it, but it has a lot of explicit swearing.

Zenn Diagram  8/10

by Wendy Brant (YA Fiction/Romance)


Eva Walker has a special gift - she can sense a person's emotional state by touch.  This talent has caused her to live a lonely life, afraid of the feelings she'll get if she makes physical contact with anyone.  Then she meets Zenn.  Not only is he gorgeous, funny and artistic, but Eva can't sense anything when she touches him.  Through their friendship, Eva learns about love, trust and forgiveness.  She discovers what it means to be selfless.

A beautifully written, and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious, book.  I'd recommend it for mature readers - a lot of explicit language and adult sexual situations.

Sticks & Stones  6/10

by Abby Cooper (YA Fiction/Fantasy)


6th grader, Elyse Everett, has a rare disorder called CAV (cognadjivisibilitis).  When someone calls her a name or gives her a compliment the word spells itself out on her arms or legs.  As strange as it seems, it has always been "cute" or made her feel special, because her friends, family and teachers have always protected her.  But now Elyse is in middle school and wants to deal with CAV on her own. Through new friendships, heartache, and the help of notes from a mysterious someone, Elyse learns how to deal with CAV and how to navigate middle school.

I love the idea of words having a physical effect on someone, but the problems Elyse faced seemed much too old for a 6th grader (obsession with a boy she went out with in 5th grade????? concern about having a boyfriend now - in 6th grade?????).  I would have been more invested if Elyse had been in high school, or if the "boyfriend" crisis had been left out.  It just didn't work for me. 

It's a cute, fast read, but I'm not sure what age group would enjoy it. 

Denton Little's Deathdate  8/10

Lance Rubin (Young Adult Science Fiction)

17 year-old Denton Little lives during a time when deathdates can be determined at birth, so he knows he is going to die on the day of his senior prom.  Up until 2 days before his deathdate, he has lived an uneventful life.  All of that changes during his last 48 hours.  Not only does he get drunk, lose his virginity, and come down with an unknown virus, but he uncovers clues that lead him to question everyone around him. Although quite inappropriate at times (sex scenes and a lot of swearing), I could not stop laughing out loud as I read this book.  The characters (especially Denton and his best friend) are quirky and the situations Denton finds himself in are absolutely hilarious. I can't wait to read the sequel!  

We Were Liars    10/10

E. Lockhart (Young Adult)

My sister asked me to read this book so she could talk to someone about it.  I started it at 11:00PM and stayed up until I finished it! I was pulled in by the incredibly beautiful writing, continued reading for the characters, and finished because of the suspense!  Wow!  I was completely surprised by this story, but I loved it!  ​That's all I can say - read it!

*My daughter requested I add that this may not be for sensitive souls - it is a very emotional read.


The Gallery    9/10

Laura Marx Fitzgerald (Young Adult)


When Martha is expelled from Catholic school for her "wonderings" about Eve, she is forced to work in a newspaper magnate's home as a maid. While there, she stumbles upon a mystery that only she has the smarts and courage to solve.

I liked that Fitzgerald set the story in 1920s New York and that she used real paintings to tell her story.  I only wish she had developed the characters a little more, because I wanted to know them better, but all in all, I really liked it!  I can't help but compare it to The Westing Game and definitely recommend it to all readers!

Faeries of Dreamdark Blackbringer     9/10

Laini Taylor (YA Fantasy)

Laini Taylor is one of my favorite authors!  Not only is she a fantastic storyteller, but she is a beautiful writer with original tales!  I love every word of her books!

Blackbringer is her first novel, but it is as much a magical adventure as her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  Magpie, the faerie heroine, has spent her life hunting and capturing devils without much resistance, until one day she comes upon a devil that is more powerful than she can handle.  She must return to her birthplace, Never Nigh, where she can enlist the help of the King of the Djinn to find the secrets to defeat the snag.  As in most adventures, she meets others who become strong allies and strong enemies.  

Taylor introduces us to magical characters on a magical adventure!  I recommend this book to readers of all ages!


Thirteen Reasons Why    3/10

by Jay Asher (Young Adult Fiction)

How often do I think about the way my actions can change another person's life?  Many, many times while reading this book.  I'm assuming that was Jay Asher's intent in this story about a teenage girl's suicide.  The book is a series of tapes that Hannah Baker recorded during her last few weeks alive in order to let 13 people know what their actions meant to her. The reader jumps into the story when Clay Jensen (one of those 13 people) receives and listens to the recordings.


I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the book.  On the one hand, I think it is very important for people to be kind, and to realize that our actions and words play a big part in the lives of others; on the other hand, I think we all do things we're not proud to have done.  I think teenagers, especially, do cruel and stupid things, which they will hopefully grow up to regret.  I'm not sure that placing the blame of a suicide on all these people is very fair.  Some of the actions are illegal and worthy of blame, but some of the situations are typical teenage stupidity that would not have yielded the same results had Hannah not been in a fragile state of mind.

The book would have been better to me if Clay hadn't chimed in so often.  His asides took away from the flow of Hannah's words. Maybe that was so the reader wouldn't become as emotionally attached to Hannah - it worked that way for me.

As I said, I'm struggling with my feelings about this book.  I do agree that teenage suicide is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously, and Thirteen Reasons Why will help with that topic, but I also think it's hard to place all the blame on the actions of others.


If I Stay    4/10

by Gayle Forman (Young Adult Fiction)

I liked the concept of this book more than I enjoyed the execution of it.  The main character, Mia, is in a car accident and ends up in the ICU in critical condition.  Her being (soul?) leaves her body and spends the next few days deciding whether to live or die. Through a series of memories, the reader gets to know Mia, her family, her friends, her life.  I thought it was an original way to present the story without too much emotional involvement, but I would have liked the book a lot more if it hadn't dragged on for as long as it did.  I found myself just wishing it would end.  I also found all the musician talk (Mia is a cellist, her dad a drummer, her boyfriend a guitarist) a bit pretentious, although, I am not a musician myself, so maybe others will find that more appealing than I did.

The Fault in Our Stars     8/10

by John Green (Young Adult Fiction)

I loathe books that make me cry.  I love books that make me cry.  Thus, I have a love/hate relationship with The Fault in Our Stars. It is exquisite and clever - John Green has quite a way with words - and one of the protagonists, Augustus Waters, won me over completely, but it is so very heart-rending.  The story is a modern day Romeo and Juliet with cancer as the obstacle in the star-crossed love story. As I mentioned, Augustus charmed me with his energetic upbeat personality which gave life to the book, and I was drawn in by the tragic beauty of the story - enough that I was loudly sobbing while reading the last few chapters. I could not read it again (too emotional for me), but I would definitely suggest the book for mature teenagers (some swearing and teenage sex - not descriptive).


The Assassin Game   7/10

by Kirsty McKay (Young Adult Thriller)  


From it's title, The Assassin Game, the book is exactly what you think it will be - teenagers at a boarding school taking a mock murder game to a new level. However, McKay adds some originality to her story. She places the boarding school on an isolated island off the coast of Wales (only accessible when the tides cooperate) and makes the characters all gifted in various fields - music, electronics, computer programming, athletics- except the main character, Cate, who is at the school because her family owns the island.  For this reason, Cate is more relatable than the other characters and she is still plenty clever, making her a good narrator for the story.  


When Cate's childhood friend joins the student body, he adds new elements to the game (and plot twists).  And, of course, attempted murder changes the stakes of what is supposed to be a fun distraction for the members of the Assassins' Guild.


A good, clean, fun young adult book read.  Not life changing or perfectly executed, but I would definitely recommend this book.​

The Young Elites   4/10

by Marie Lu (Young Adult Fantasy)

​I loved Marie Lu's Legend series, so I was excited to read her Young Elites trilogy.  I don't know if that contributed to my disappointment, but I had a difficult time getting through these books.  The story begins with Adelina, a teenage girl who only finds her superhuman powers when she is threatened with death.  The story follows her journey from a damaged, helpless girl to a powerful, magical leader - typical fairytale formula, but I didn't find myself rooting for her success.  Adelina is an unlikeable protagonist.  She is paranoid and off-balance (due to the voices/shadows only she can hear/see), but it causes her to betray her friends, push away people who care about her and kill her enemies as well as her allies.  At the very end, she redeems herself, but it was a struggle for me to get that far.

I would skip this series.  With so many YA fantasy series, I wouldn't spend my time reading this one.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows) 9/10

by Leigh Bardugo (Young Adult Fantasy)

This is Leverage, or The Sting with a cast of streetwise teenagers as the masterminds.  The book is fast-paced and exciting, with twist after brilliant twist! I love the characters!  Each one has his/her own set of problems to overcome, but each also has individual strengths necessary to the crew.  I love these books so much that I re-read Six of Crows to remind me of the characters and plot, and jumped right into Crooked Kingdom.  I couldn't put either book down!

My only complaints, besides not having another book in the series, are (SPOILER ALERT) the death of one of the main characters (I hate that), the use of f**k once in each book and the amount of descriptive violence, which makes this more of a PG-13 book rather than PG (which I would have loved it to be so my youngest daughter could read it - she'll have to wait a few years!).

Leigh Bardugo is a spectacular storyteller.  I didn't want this book to end!  

Looking For Alaska  4/10

by John Green (Young Adult Fiction)


Boarding school novels always seem to be depressing.  In this one, Miles Halter decides to attend Culver Creek Prep School "to seek a Great Perhaps" (dying words of a poet).  So, as a junior, he starts on a boarding school adventure.  All the elements of a "coming-of-age" story are present - conflict, trial, heartache, loss of innocence, and even a wise mentor - but the formula doesn't equal a satisfying story for me.  This adventure consists of a lot of smoking and drinking and not much else. I didn't develop any deep feelings for characters, I didn't cry or even feel like crying during any of the heartache, and I didn't find the leap into adulthood to be very rewarding.  My advice is to skip this book and pick another John Green novel.

bottom of page