Showing posts with label Young Adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Young Adult. Show all posts

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Student Saturday: The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery, Fantasy
Student Reviewer Olivia S.

In the book “The Circus of Stolen Dreams” Andrea is a 12-year-old girl that has suffered many losses, such as her parents divorcing, but she has always had her little brother to stay by her side and to comfort, until he mysteriously disappears one night. Three years later and they still find no trace of him. Andrea has hardened her heart and has shut herself down for three long years struggling with the loss of her shadow, until she smells sweets and popcorn in the air along with a chance of relief. Andrea is given a chance to go into the magical world of Reverie in exchange for a memory, dream, or nightmare, and she knows exactly what she wants to forget. What Andrea does not know is Reverie is not all that it seems and entering the magical world of Reverie means a chance at finding her brother. Willz Andrea find her brother before it’s too late, or will she fall prey to the trap that is Reverie, like so many children before her?

Andrea is a 12-year-old girl from Ohio who during most of the story feels guilty and sad. Throughout the story, Andrea is shown as brave and resilient. She is not afraid to face her fears to find answers. This book reminds me of “Percy Jackson the lightning thief,” since Percy loses his mother and blames himself, while Andrea loses her brother and blames herself. They both lose their loved ones and go through trials to find them. I would recommend this book to nine-year-olds through fourteen-year-olds since this book does not have many plot twists and you can predict what is going to happen before it happens. This book met my expectations, and even though the book was mostly predictable, it was still nice to see Andrea's healing process throughout the story and to see her love for her brother.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Student Saturday: Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Science Fiction

Student Reviewer:  Susan T.

I was not sure how I would feel about this book since it has a slow-paced climax, but I ended up enjoying it. The characters have great development that really builds the storyline. The setting and language used really emphasizes the point in time and what the setting is like.

Gathering Blue is about an orphan with a twisted leg who gets sent to what is called “The Council of guardians” and that is where she is fostered, she is a talented threader and is looked up to fix the robe. She later reveals the truth behind her home.

While this book was slow-paced, I did really like the plot twists.  It kept the book interesting while still making sense and connecting with the rest of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who finds interest in a good storyline and more aged literature.


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Dying to Forget by Trish Marie Dawson


Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy from BookBub to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is one of those books whose premise sound awesome. Then when I began to read it I wasn't sure. Let me get my few negative remarks out first. Trish has killed herself after accidentally killing her best friend in a car accident. She arrives at a place where she must make a choice. She can decide to be sent on assignments to help people like her before they take that final step of suicide. Her other choice is to move on where she will have to live with everything that brought her to that point in her life, such as all her pain about being raped, her anger and other feelings of depression. She decides to  go back to help others. Her first assignment is in the head of a male. In fact she spends a lot of time making comments that shows she is lusting after him. This is where I had a major issue.  Up to this point I was okay with everything. Her second assignment is a bit better for her.  I liked the characters. I like the setting within reason. I would have liked the author to spend a bit more time on the world building instead of just describing buildings. It didn't feel like a place I would like to visit under any circumstances.   I kind of expected the ending.  I don't think most people would have felt that same way. It did leave it open for the next book in the series. I haven't decided if I liked it enough to read the next one or not. I am one of those who will re-read my review in a couple of days and then make that decision. All in all it was a pretty good book.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner


Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Source: I won a copy for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Katie McCabe is a rebellious teen. Her father is the town sheriff. She loves him dearly. She lost her mother at a very young age. He is all she has. She and her best friend Tommy accidently set a shed on fire. When she gets home she explains to her father it was an accident. She is made to pay for the damages. Then the next morning she is put on a bus and shipped to her uncle’s house. Her dad tells her it is because he has been sick lately and the doctors want to do some tests. Her beginnings with her uncle and cousins is rocky. She meets  a young man named Logan who seems to have her back even when she is trying to sabotage herself.  When her father dies and they pack up her former house and move her into her uncle’s house permanently she really rebels.  She has convinced herself that they have taken her in out of obligation and not out of love. What will it take to prove her wrong?  What happens when she makes enemies with someone who believes  they are powerful because of their family name? What will it take to survive?

I read this book in just a few hours. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I have read other books by this author and highly recommend this book and all her others.  I will tell you that you will need a box of tissues all through this book.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Student Saturday: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus


Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller 
Student Reviewer:  Campbell P.

The book "One of us is next" is a part of a suspenseful mystery series. The story is based on a group of kids called the Bayview four, who recently solved a mystery on their friends' death. It takes place in the town of Bayview in present times and contains much high school drama as well as a dangerous game of truth or dare. The three main characters, Maeve, Knox, and Phoebe are all very determined to solve this mystery of who runs the truth or dare game. This book reminds me of the book A Good Girl's Guide toMurder,   as they both feature friend groups being the target of someone's plan. This is a very suspenseful, yet a must-read book that I would recommend to readers who love thrilling, mystery, and good plot twists.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater

Genre: Young Adult, Nonfiction
Source: I own a copy

This is a true story that took place in 2013.  It explores many issues and how they are handled. Sasha is an agender, autistic teen who likes wearing skirts.  Richard is a teen who decides to set Sasha’s skirt on fire while they are sleeping. It was meant to be a prank. Many things played a role in the sentence that Richard was given. The actual event was horrific no matter what gender.  However, when you look at all the facts several things come to mind. So let me start by saying that the incident, no matter what race or gender the victim and perpetrator were needed to be punished.  When reading the book I noticed a couple of things in particular.  The first thing I noticed was that Sasha was white and Richard was African American.  The second thing we notice is their gender identification and their financial status.  When you read a book and the victim’s family stands up for the person accused of the crime and it is ignored then you have to imagine something is wrong with the system. Richard is questions without a lawyer and makes statements that paint him as homophobic. Due to this and other circumstances he is tried as an adult. Yes I do believe what he did was wrong on so many levels. Do I believe he should have been tried as an adult?  No.  This crime changed both lives. By the press and everyone involved focusing on race and gender there was a lot of bias found in this case.  The author brings a human side to the story. By telling what happened to both teens and telling us both sides of the story we get a better picture of the humans these two are.  So often the news takes a story and puts their own slant on it to fit the politics of the time. I can’t have it on my shelves, but I can sure recommend students check it out from their local library.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Divided by Kandi J. Wyatt


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This author has done it again. This is a definite winner. In this book, #6 in the series,  we find the Dragon King's daughter Mairead is now queen. After her mother's passing she is thrust into that role. She has advisors until she is old enough.  A young prince comes visiting in hopes of uniting their kingdoms.  The council is unsure of his intentions.  In the spirit of peace they invite him.  Mairead is an excellent host. She finds herself falling for the young charismatic Prince. But not everything is as it seems. How do you trust someone you don't really know? How do you please the people who have always had your back and helped raise you?  How do you trust them when they don't trust the one you love?  Mairead wants to please them all. When she begins to experience magic, Lugh refuses to train her. The Prince steps in and offers as he too has magic. Her father figure does not trust the Prince and puts additional people to watch after her. Then she makes contact with her father, the Dragon King. Will he be the answer to these questions of trust or will he forbid the relationship?  Will he stay with Mairead, or will he go? You must read this book to find out. This series always has me on the edge of my seat. I can't wait for the next one to come out. I have been recommending this series to my students because when it comes to the fantasy genre, Kandi Wyatt is at the top of the list.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source:  I received a copy from the author to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.


This author has done it again. This is a definite winner. In this book we find the Dragon King's daughter Mairead is queen. After her mother's passing she is thrust into that role. She has  advisors until she is old enough.  A young prince comes visiting in hopes of uniting their kingdoms.  But not everything is as it seems. How do you trust someone you don't know? How do you please the people who have always had your back and helped raise you?  How do you trust them when they don't trust the one who you love?  In this one we find the Dragon King returning. Will he be the answer to these questions?  Will he stay or will he go? You must read this book to find out.

This book comes out November 14th  If you have not read the other five in the series you must.

Every book brings us more adventure, shows us how much Jeah cares.  This is a must read. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. Kandi can't write them fast enough for me.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Student Saturday: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han


Student Reviewer – Madison

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

The book “The Summer I Turned Pretty” is about a girl named Betty and her mom and brother, Lauel and Steven. They go to cousins Beach every summer with their family friends, Jeremiah and Conrad. Belly has liked Conrad since she  was little but this summer was different for her with many plot twists. Belly has always been the girl that hasn’t really grown up yet, until this summer when “everything changed”. This book is really good for anybody above the age of twelve who likes to read about teenage life. Jenny Han wrote this book very well and I really recommend reading it.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Easy Target by Tim Shoemaker

Genre: Young Adult, Christian, Realistic Fiction
Source: I own a copy

There is nothing better in my opinion than a book with a great story line that also promotes Christianity.

Tim Shoemaker is a master at crafting such books.  The characters are always relatable.  As a teacher I have seen many homeschooled kids begin regular middle school. For many it is not much of a social jump as they attend church or other activities that have them fitting in socially. Then we have those who have been out of the loop socially and struggle with going to a regular school.

Hudson Sutton is one of the first types of kids. He was homeschooled, raised as a Christian and adjusted fairly well in the school. That is until the bullying starts. He tries to protect his new friends from the bullying going on.  He comes up with a wonderful plan only to realize that he himself has become a bully. Since he is so open about his faith he is like many teens who think they are doing the right thing, only to discover that what they are actually doing is not what God would have us do.  One thing that kept going through my mind was the scripture, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay.”  I guess a part of me remembers a time that I was so fed up with something that I thought I could help handle it. I then discovered that I had become a part of the same bad decisions. I justified my actions “because I prayed about it.”  There is a difference between praying and actually listening to what God is trying to tell us.  

All of the characters are well developed.  The setting was nicely done. The messages are clear. It is great that Hudson wanted to help his friends with the bullying issue. How far is too far? What happens when the bullied become the bullies?  A great question to end on and a recommendation to read this book. It is so worth is.


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Student Saturday: Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Student Reviewer:  Sophia G.

Hotel Magnifique is a fantasy book with elements of mystery that will grab your interest from the beginning and keep you hooked until the end. This book will especially appeal to siblings when they read about Jani and Zosa’s dynamic sibling relationship. Many people will be able to relate to Jani, who is an overprotective, caring, older sister, and Zosa, a younger sister who is coming out of her shell. Together, they explore the magical Hotel Magnifique which has enchantments and secrets to rival Hogwarts. I enjoyed this book not only for the plot, but because I was able to relate to my relationship with my sister.

Monday, August 28, 2023

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


Genre: Young Adult, Novel in Verse
Source: I own a copy

This was an excellent book.  Xiomara and her twin are opposites. Their mother favors "Twin", Xiomara's brother. He goes to a school for the gifted.  Xiomara has spent her entire life looking out for her brother, fighting his battles for him.  How do you survive when it seems no one knows you exist?  you write poetry.  Xiomara's mother speaks limited English. To make matters worse, she never wanted to get married, she wanted to be a nun. This makes life more difficult for Xiomara. She is required to go to confirmation classes. She isn't even sure what she believes about God. She  has ignored the boys who like to make comments about her larger, curvy body.  Aman is the first boy she has given any attention to. But she isn't allowed to do anything except go to church.  She learns about performance poetry from her English teacher, who sees something special in her. She avoids the invitations to join the poetry club because it doesn't fall into line with her mom's church life.  But just because her mom wouldn't agree doesn't mean that she can't write poetry. That is what she does until  her mom takes that away. Something breaks inside and it will take someone her mother trusts to help mend their family.  

I love this book.  I would recommend it to high school students because of some of the more mature themes.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Shadow of the West by Sarah Brotherhood Chapman


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Books about the Cold War have been my favorite for years. Very little is written about it for teens. They know almost nothing. I jumped at the chance to read this book so I could get it into the hands of my students. We have Kate who is. and American. As the daughter of a diplomat she moves a lot. This time they are in West Berlin. She meets Amy, whose father is a diplomat stationed on the east side of Berlin. Amy spends a lot of time at Kate’s house.  Kate goes to visit Amy and meets Michael. Michael and his sister are barely surviving on the east side. Of course Kate and Michael meet. This is dangerous for Michael and his sister as the Stasi watch everything.

I enjoyed this book because the author is the daughter of a diplomat who had similar experiences to that of Kate.  I enjoyed this also because I worked with two teachers and taught their daughter. They would tell me stories of living in embassies around the world, especially Russia.  Their daughter at times was clueless as to how things actually worked in those countries because they were sheltered from a lot of the things people in those country went through, all because they were a diplomat’s child.  I highly recommend this book. I believe it should be on every high school shelf.   I won a copy from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Giveaway.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby


Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source:  I purchased a copy

I love reading books set in the time period of WWII.  Then you add in a young girl named Frankie and a ghost named Pearl, whose stories alternate and you have the setup for a great book. The thing that really sets this book apart from so many other of this time period is the difference between the treatment of males and females.  There are so many things a female is expected to do just because of her gender. Yet we have a story here to show how strong the female can be and how they rise above the expectations for the time period. We also look at the difference in treatment between those who have money and those who do not.

Frankie is living in an orphanage. The story takes place in America. This surprised me because I figured as a World War 2 book it would have taken place in Europe. However, this was a refreshing detail. Frankie, her sister and brother all live in an orphanage because their mother is dead and their father can’t afford to take care of them.  I got angry at the fact that their father meets another woman, whose children are also in the orphanage, and they get married. The marriage wasn’t the issue. It was the fact their father was moving out west and taking his new wife and her children and their brother with them. The only reason the brother went was because he had aged out of the orphanage. Another unique aspect of this orphanage was the way they separated the boys and girls. Girls were required to take care of the dinner dishes from the boy’s side, but not allowed to talk or acknowledge them without repercussions.  Some of the nuns came across as just looney or sadistic.  The storyline is engaging and kept me reading.  A bonus for me was learning that this is based on the true life story of the author’s Mother-in law.  A strange book, yet engaging. I will say it was difficult in the very beginning to keep the two perspectives straight. If you stick with it, which I say you should, you will soon find yourself so invested you can’t stop reading it.  So glad to have read and recommend this book.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sketching Rebellion by Felicia Ketcheson

Genre:  Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Wow! As I read this book I was thinking, this has an undercurrent of "The Hunger Games." then I thought about the society in the book "The Giver."  There were so many things going on that you have to keep reading. Think about a society where everyone works for the good of all. That is everyone except the President. His biggest job is being present and pumping people up for an execution that everyone is required to attend. While he stands in front of them he tears down the person for their crime which can range from saying something against the government, or drawing a picture, which is illegal. All creativity is illegal. He claims it benefits the individual and not the society so they are being selfish. He pumps up the crowd the way cheerleaders would before a game. All the while he stands safely behind a wall of glass. He even has the are you watch from broken into sections; bronze, silver, and platinum.  All relatives of the crimanal and those who have higher positions in the society stand in the platinum section. Age is no issue. You can be executed even if you are a child as young as seven.  But the president's plans don't go as expected. A rebellion has formed. It is made up of people who have just disappeared. They have been waiting for just the right moment and for two teens who are the key to their plan working. As I read about Creel, one of the main characters, I felt sorry for her. She is smart, intelligent and loves to draw. Unfortunately, people are asked to turn those in who break the law, such as drawing. Creel has had her second warning and promises not to draw anymore because if she is caught the consequence will be mortae (death).  

As I read this book I could not help but see the Stasi who were responsible for getting people to spy on each other, including family members, in East Germany during the Cold War.  I didn't expect the ending that I read. It did tie things up nicely and left you hungering for a sequel. I have learned one is expected in the Spring of 2024.  I can't wait.  

Every year I challenge my students to read from eleven different genres. They are to attempt to read a minimum of eleven books. They must write their goal down and give it to me to chart. In turn my students set my reading goal.  This was the first book out of 83 they have set for me to read.  Definitley a great book to start my challenge.


Saturday, July 29, 2023

Astray by J.F. Rogers


Genre:  Young Adult, Christian,  Fantasy

Source:  I received a copy from Bookfunnel to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I love books for teens, especially if they have a message of faith to them.  Fallon is struggling since her mother disappeared and her father died. She is depressed and self-mutilates.  Her friend keeps trying to convince her that all she needs to do is have faith. When she goes through a portal into another world, Fallon finds what she has been missing. However, like so many teens, she is stubborn. Her journey in Ariboslia is one she must go through to learn who she is and grow her faith. This is a book about finding your faith among all the troubles you’ve had.  I really enjoyed the characters in this book. They reminded me of the type of characters Kandi Wyatt created in her “Myth Coast Adventure” series. Maybe that is why I liked this so much.  I also enjoyed the way the ending left room for a sequel. Must read book.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Always by Morris Gleitzman


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

I enjoyed this entire series. This is a fitting end to it.  We find Felix's past and present reconnecting through a young boy named Wassim.  Felix, in helping Wassim, realizes that even though he has always held out hope for mankind to be better than they were when he was a child, witnessing the atrocities of the Holocaust, there is still so much hatred and prejudice in the world. But maybe he can help change Wassim's life a bit.  This is a series I have not only recommended to my students, daughter and granddaughter, but one I will read from beginning to end this coming school year. Why?  Since I have all of them I want to read straight through. This is one roller coaster of a ride series. I definitely recommend it to everyone.

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Tale of the Young Witch By Author Joseph Minart


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: I own a copy


I used to say that I didn’t read a lot of fantasy books. When  I got ready to pack up my classroom I realized that most of the books I had read and purchased for my classroom were actually fantasy books.

The author has created a very unique world. In this world magic has been stopped to protect the world by the Jewel of Celestria. But, it seems that the Jewel hasn’t stopped it all. Amelia Twigg discovers one day that she has some magic ability. She doesn’t understand why or how. Her mother walked out on her and her father when she was a young child. Her father, a blacksmith, has raised her.

One day Amelia and her best friend Jack find themselves watching their village under attack. Amelia finds her father dead. She grabs the sword he had made her and prepares to leave. Suddenly she finds things being destroyed by a man who can throw magical fire from his very hands. He has come for Amelia.  Jack and Amelia are rescued by another man who has the ability to freeze the first wizard in place. This gives them enough time to escape.  The man who rescues her explains that she is a witch and there are other powerful witches looking for her. They believe she is the key to finding the Jewel of Celestria. He explains that the jewel keeps all magic a bay.  There was a time when everyone could use magic and it had horrible consequences. Three powerful witches create a jewel to solve this problem. Amelia and Jack find themselves on the run. Amelia has been told she must learn to use her magic if she is to survive and avoid those who would do her harm. 

The world building mixes steampunk and magic in a very unique way. We have people who live in the most primitive way contrasted with those who live in a city that is the most modern of all.  The book is full of twists and turns. I found that even the most evil were not prepared for what they learned. Betrayal lurks around every corner.  The book ends in a satisfying manner and yet it is set up that I believe a sequel could happen. 

The author has created an index to help the reader with unfamiliar words, and the world that he created.  I can’t wait to recommend this to my students. It is a very long book, but it well worth the time to read it. I look forward to reading more by this
author in the future.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Resolved by Kandi J. Wyatt


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.


This fifth book in the series is awesome. There is no doubt that this author is a master of world building. There is also no doubt that she has created a series that makes you yearn for the next one.  We find Siobhan in charge of the kingdom, as in queen. The Dragon King has not returned.  Mairead their young daughter has grown up learning how to fight, just as her mother did. But now, those who have tried so hard to destroy her kingdom have ramped things up.  Siobhan must put her own life on the line if she is to save her kingdom. A new threat to all, and everyone she holds dear is on her doorstep. We see the tension between the one the Dragon King charged with taking care of Siobhan and Siobhan. You can tell that they love each other, yet she doesn’t know if she should.

I loved her daughter Mairead as she is just as stubborn and forceful as her mother. She trains to fight. She questions her mother about her father. Siobhan has withheld the information from her for many reasons. The excuse she gives is that she will tell her when she is older.

You must read this book to find out what happens next in this wonderful series.  As far as I’m concerned she can’t write them quick enough for me.  

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats by Jenny Kalahar


Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I own a copy

This is a wonderful book. I love cats and books and thought, why not.?  Mr. and Mr. O'Malley own and run a used bookstore. They buy and sell used books. With no children of their own they welcome orphaned cats into their bookstore. These aren't just any cat's. They work with the local animal shelter and foster cats where they would have a great chance of interacting with the public and then become adopted. This bookstore has two cats ready for adoption. Stomper who reminded me in personality of Garfield.  He was grumpy, wanted to be left alone and learned how to steal food from the small fridge inn the front room.  Buglit is the most recent addition. She had belonged to an older lady who had passed away. She hated the shelter. When brought to the shelter, she felt a connection to Mrs. O'Malley. Both cats have their own personality.  There are a variety of humans who play a big part in this book as well. You have the man who owns the music store down the street. There is young Kris who loves spending time in the bookstore. His love of books is obvious. It seems to go beyond the normal love of reading. He and Mr. O'Malley become very close. Like Buglit and Stomper he is a foster kid. Read this book to see how the three of them, Stomper, Buglit, and Stomper help each other through the ups and downs of everyday life.