Tag Archives: young adult

Staff Review: Blood and Salt

blood and saltBlood and Salt

Kim Liggett

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Available: Now


On reading the very first page of Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett, I was instantly hooked. I really appreciate Liggett’s rich detail and how she describes every part down to the smallest detail which created strong imagery. As I read, I could picture everything happening including Ash’s gruesome vision of the dead girl hanging upside down on the kitchen table, ropes digging into her ankles, a trace of blood running from her cut across her hand. Ash’s visions are as evocative as watching a horror movie.

This suspenseful page turner centers around 17 year old Ash, daughter of Nina Larkin, a woman who escaped the harsh, spiritual commune of Quivira Kansas 17 years ago to raise her children in New York, away from the Mayhem that existed back home in Kansas.

Ash is a girl who could possibly be a conduit, someone who sees into the past and a has visions of their ancestors including the gruesome rituals that they conducted. When her mother’s final protection spell fades, she finds herself even more plagued with visions of her ancestor named Katia. If that isn’t enough to handle, Ash is haunted by visions of a dead girl. A girl she is tied to because of her gift. A girl that has been with Ash ever since she could remember. A girl that may be Katia, but looks just like Ash. With just six precious days left and the clock ticking, Ash and her brother Rhys set out to go to Quivira, Kansas to save their mother from doing the unthinkable on the night of the summer solstice.

Ash and Rhys want to save their mother Nina, but as their journey becomes more and more harrowing, Ash realizes it isn’t just her mother that needs saving but also herself. This book is perfect for the young adult looking for the ultimate fantasy suspenseful thriller.

~ Eryn, 16

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Customer Review: Magonia


Maria Dahvana Headley


Available in April 2014


Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley circles around a girl with a mysterious lung disease when one day she is transported to another world where she is healthy and has the ability to do incredible things with just her voice.  This story has a handful of snarky intelligent characters, and a beautiful setting.

~ Emily

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Customer Review: The Walled City

9780316405058The Walled City

Ryan Graudin

Little, Brown


Available now

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin is a book unlike any other book I have read. I feel that this is a memorable novel due to its realistic setting and three characters with dark pasts. The story focuses on three young individuals who live in a dangerous city and are stuck in a conflict that put their lives at risk.  The three teenagers will have to depend on each other in order to walk out of the Walled City alive. ~ Emily

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Customer Review: The Red Queen

RedQueenThe Red Queen

Victoria Aveyard



Available now

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is by far one of the best young-adult novels I have ever read.  With an interesting protagonist, a unique setting, and a wild plot twist leaving you wanting more.  The book surrounds a girl named Mare who lives in a world where the blood in your veins determines the life you live.  Mare discovers that she is different and is a powerful weapon to some.  Her life as she knows it will never be the same

~ Emily

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Customer Review: Stray


Elissa Sussman

Greenwillow Books


Available now

“I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure, ever after,” is the mantra that Aislynn focuses on everyday at Nerine Academy where she trains to be the perfect princess and wife. But Aislynn can’t control her magic and dreams of straying the path and becoming evil. She is then sent to become a fairy godmother, while taking care of the future queen. Aislynn hears secrets of rebellion and learns of a sinister plot that puts her in danger. This book is filled with twists and turns, decisions made and their consequences, and Aislynn’s struggle with following the Path.

~ Emily, age 14

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Customer Review: The Dolls

9780062281487The Dolls

Kiki Sullivan

Balzer & Bray


Available now

The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan is a perfect match for fans of Mean Girls and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. If you’re looking for a book with magic, drama, mystery, romance, and with a setting in New Orleans this is the book for you. Its about Eveny who moves back to the mysterious town of Carrefour years later after her mother supposedly killed herself. When she starts to attend her new school she meets the Dolls — two girls named Peregine Marceau and Chloe St. Pierre — who are the queens of the school and also the queens of magic in Carrefour. After several mysterious events Eveny discovers that her life and everything that she believes is a lie, so she turns to the Dolls for help. It’s up to Chloe, Peregine and Eveny to save Carrefour, set things right and to solve the murderers.

~ Emily, age 14

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Staff Review: The Geography of You and Me

T9780316254779he Geography of You and Me

Jennifer E. Smith



Available now

Jennifer Smith, a newly rising YA author, understands how to create sweet and light romances that give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with first love. When high school students Lucy and Owen get stuck in a New York City elevator, their initial conversation leads to a single night of roaming the streets of the city. By morning, the two teens go their separate ways. As Lucy hops all over Europe with her parents, and Owen travels throughout the United States with his father, they exchange a scattered emails and postcards that eventually result in meet-ups in San Francisco and New York City. Lucy and Owen’s heart-felt romance shows a unique experience of first love, long-distance relationships, and leaps of faith.

~ Laura


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Indies Introduce: Far From You and The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

[Note: I was honored to be invited to the Indies Introduce Children’s panel last summer. A group of ten booksellers from all over the country read through middle grade and young adult novels by first-time novelists. We had regular conference calls discussing each book and eventually selected what we considered to be the ten best books by debut authors. Those books are now (woot!) being published and I’m excited to introduce them to the Eight Cousins community.]

Todays Featured Indies Introduce titles are Far From You by Tess Sharp and The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer.

FC9781423184621Far From You

Tess Sharp




Everyone thinks that Mina died because Sophie Winters was buying drugs. It’s true that Sophie is an addict; she started abusing painkillers after a car accident  when she was 14. Mina’s brother Trev was driving. But Sophie has been clean for 6 months, thanks to her aunt. And Sophie would never put Mina in jeopardy like that, not to mention that Mina would never allow Sophie to buy drugs under her watch. So what did happen that night that Mina died? Who shot Mina? Why did they frame Sophie? Why is everyone, including Trev, convinced that it’s Sophie’s fault? Part mystery, part love story, Far From You shatters expectations and deftly spins a story of loss, power, and love.


FC9780385753784The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Kate Hattemer

Knopf Books


Ages 13+

Selwyn Academy has become the background for a reality TV show called For Art’s Sake. But there is something rotten and Ethan, along with three of his friends, are determined to discover what. In an age of constant marketing and self-promotion, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy investigates the nuances between art, commercialism, authenticity, performance, the spectacle, drama and ‘drama.’ It also looks at that moment when ideals and success collide. Highly recommended for teen book groups and high school classes. The Vigilante Poets will spark continuous discussion about one of our long-term philosophical debates: What is Art?

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Indies Introduce: Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and Salvage

[Note: I was honored to be invited to the Indies Introduce Children’s panel last summer. A group of ten booksellers from all over the country read through middle grade and young adult novels by first-time novelists. We had regular conference calls discussing each book and eventually selected what we considered to be the ten best books by debut authors. Those books are now (woot!) being published and I’m excited to introduce them to the Eight Cousins community. Over the next few days, I’ll discuss each of the books. ]

Today’s featured Indies Introduce titles are Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton and Salvage by Alexandra Duncan.

FC9780763665661Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Leslye Walton

Candlewick Press


Ages 14+

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender sparked a tremendous amount of discussion among our panel about book categories and readers’ ages. Some argued that this particular book was *not* YA (young adult), thus raising questions about what exactly YA is. In Ava Lavender, the main character is a teenager, but she doesn’t appear in the story until about 75 pages in. Ava does narrate the story of her youth, but is in her late 70s when she tells the story. The book, therefore, challenges the assumption that YA books are about teens. As far as content goes, there are frank references to sex — it is a story about three generations of a family after all. Finally, who are the intended readers. Ava Lavender, since it deals occasionally with middle age, married life, and parenting teens?   It is a cross-over book to be sure, but the more I heard people arguing that this particular book was *not* YA, the more convinced I became that it *was* YA. While I’m still struggling a bit to precisely explain why (one of the things I love about books is that they are elusive and defy easy summaries), I would argue that it has to do with the book’s tone. Ava, although a much older narrator, tells the story of her family and her youth in a very youthful way. And by youthful I mean that she doesn’t always get bogged down by the details. She doesn’t explain everything — often letting the reader fill in the gaps — and she doesn’t let emotions become overly burdensome. The story, as the title suggests, contains sorrows, but it is very light and free. Readers will walk away from this book feeling uplifted. The Stories of Ava Lavender is magical realism in the spirit of Isabel Allende (one of my favorite writers when I was a teen). The writing and characters are fantastically unusual. But it’s refusal to be pinned down in one particular category is precisely what makes this book worth reading.


Alexandra Duncan

Greenwillow Books


Ages 13+

Salvage also defies easy categorization. The story takes place in the future. Earth still exists, but communities have moved to vessels and therefore sometimes becoming insulated and completely separated from the outside world. Ava’s community is — well we would describe it as backward. The disparity between the sexes is firmly implemented in her society’s structure. Women are caregivers, food providers, and mostly silent and submissive. Ava’s mathematical and technical knowledge must be carefully guarded, but she firmly subscribes to her inferior role. Her innocence and naiveté lead her to make a social blunder of such magnitude that she is sentenced to death by the the women of her society. Her escape to earth — near-future Mumbai — becomes a catalyst for self-discovery. Along the way she also learns more about her own family and how her ancestors’ decisions influenced her own experiences. Salvage isn’t for anyone who wants a quick book. It requires commitment; Ava’s journey isn’t always straight-forward. Nevertheless, the satisfaction of recognizing how much Ava has grown in the course of this novel is well worth the time.


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Indies Introduce: Half Bad and Death-Struck Year

[Note: I was honored to be invited to the Indies Introduce Children’s panel last summer. A group of ten booksellers from all over the country read through middle grade and young adult novels by first-time novelists. We had regular conference calls discussing each book and eventually selected what we considered to be the ten best books by debut authors. Those books are now (woot!) being published and I’m excited to introduce them to the Eight Cousins community. Over the next few days, I’ll discuss each of the books.]

Today’s featured Indies Introduce titles are Half Bad by Sally Green and Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier.

FC9780670016785Half Bad

Sally Green



Ages 12 +

In Nathan’s world, things are simple. White witches are good. Black witches are evil. But Nathan is different. Nathan is half-white. Half-black. Half-good. Half-bad. Nathan, then, is a threat to the Council of White Witches. They must contain the threat. They must keep control. They must, by any means necessary, stay in power. Because, after all, it is the ones in power who get to define what is good and what is evil. A fantasy book that explores social justice and explodes the binary tradition of white and black in the discourse of magic, Half Bad introduces a phenomenal new character, develops an innovated narrative, and demonstrates that black and white aren’t always black and white and things are never simple.

FC9780544164505Death-Struck Year

Makiia Lucier

HMH Books for Young Readers


Ages 12+

Although the Great War is still raging in Europe, for Cleo and her classmates, the real fear is the Spanish Influenza. When the epidemic reaches Portland, OR, through a series of random events, Cleo finds herself home alone. Noticing a plea for nurses at a local make-shift hospital for Influenza patients, she decides to volunteer. Some volunteers last a day, others only a few hours – being surrounded by suffering and death is too much for most adults. But Cleo’s own history compels her to return each day, to offer comfort and assistance to the patients who need it – patients who have been abandoned by others. Challenging readers to think critically about what each of us would be willing to endure when the people around us are dying, A Death-Struck Year is an incredibly well-researched and amazingly written account of an event in American History that is often marginalized. It offers a compelling story of a young girl who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, but is willing to step up during a desperate hour.

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