All tagged YA

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I wanted this reading experience to be a solid five stars. I had such high hopes. After all, Red Queen did win the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Debut Goodreads Author and was nominated in the Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction category as well.

The story centers around Mare Barrow, a member of the servant class with red blood. Her prospects in this world ruled by those with silver blood and mystical X-Men powers are grim. As a Red, Mare has developed no expertise in a trade, so she is conscripted into the royal Silver's military. Her country of Norta has been engaged in an ongoing war with neighboring countries for generations. Conscription is a death sentence.

Of course, through a chance encounter, Mare is spared conscription. Instead, she finds herself in the royal Silver court discovering that she possesses special mystical powers herself. She's whisked away to hide the fact that she's a Red and the political intrigue begins.

Book Review: Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi

If I could give this novel more than five stars, I would! I can’t believe how long it has taken me to read this distressing, but uplifting piece of historical fiction that reminds me of how precious freedom is.

Years ago, students had enthusiastically recommended this book to me. Middle school students. Enthused about historical fiction. I took note. I remember the students telling me that they couldn’t tell me too much without ruining the story and I remember writing the book title down.

Book Review: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Originally, I was planning on reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the category “book set in high school” for my Reading Challenge. I kind of think that the reading gods knew that All American Boys was coming out in the fall of 2015 and had a different plan for me. 

Every time Wallflower would come in at the library, I would be in the middle of a much larger book and couldn’t get to it. And that book is always on hold!

The chapters alternate between Rashad, an ROTC artsy African-American student, and Quinn, a white basketball varsity player who’s hoping for a college scholarship.

The book covers the week in their lives following Rashad’s beating by a white police officer. Quinn witnessed the beating and said nothing. He knew the officer and didn’t know how to react. 

I still want to read Wallflower, but when I saw the article All American Boys: A Young Adult Book About a Police Beating and a Hard Choice on NPR's website, I knew that I had found another high school book that would treat serious themes in YA fiction with honesty, integrity, and dignity.

Book Review: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

My one word summary for this first book in the Nancy Drew series? 


Nancy is a swell amateur sleuth. Carson Drew, Nancy’s practically perfect lawyer father is swell. Her live-in housekeeper who she almost always refers to with both her first and last name, Hannah Gruen, is especially swell at producing carb-loaded breakfast comfort foods. River Heights is a swell town. Even the plot to uncover Josiah Crowley’s most recent will is swell.

Book Review: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

For years Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry has been on my reading list. Chronicling a year in the life of an African-American family in the South during the Great Depression, this novel won the 1977 Newbery Medal.

If you're a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, then this story gives the African-American perspective on the Jim Crow South through the lens of Cassie Logan, a confident young heroine who begins to understand the racism surrounding her and to appreciate the value of the property her family has fought so hard to retain.

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

A fellow English teacher recommended Jasper Fforde as an author I should read a few years back. She suspected that I would enjoy his dry humor. She was right.

I decided to start with his YA series The Chronicles of Kazam because I wanted to find another series to recommend to my students who are Harry Potter fans. Not only can I recommend this first book in the series to my students, but also to any of my friends who enjoyed Harry Potter.

The story is this fantastic social commentary about greed, commercialism, entitlement, deception, and more, but it's perfectly balanced by imaginative world building. Even if younger readers don't always pick up on Fforde's underlying messages, they'll enjoy every whimsical detail, right down to the Quarkbeast.