Teen Advisory Board Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL ADVISORY BOARD MEETINGS WILL BE VIRTUAL VIA ZOOM. EMAIL CHLOE AT CHLOEPBKSCO@GMAIL.COM IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. 

These are reviews written by members of the Teen Advisory Board.

 

Click here for more information about the Advisory Boards. 

 

 

 

Pre-Order Now Badge
Sisters of the Snake Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062985590
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: HarperTeen - June 15th, 2021

This story, based on the trope of twins who were separated at birth and raised in greatly differing circumstances, could have been done so badly. Instead, the author builds on the classic theme in an original and arresting way. In a fantasy version of India, Rani, one of the twin daughters of the ruler, has been raised to the privilege of her rank, but her twin Ria was stashed away in an orphanage, all memory of her existence wiped. A street urchin, she steals to survive. Rani, as the acknowledged princess, has always been able to access her magical birthright, an affinity with snakes. A few others have use of ancient memory magic and fire magic, and there's rumor of death magic, the secret of which has been lost. Rani is engaged to be married to a longtime friend and though she likes him, she's growing disenchanted with the prospect of marriage and her constricted life. She just wants freedom. Ria would be perfectly happy to continue on her carefree - and threadbare - existence with her street thief friend and mentor, until she finds her name on a list of conscripts into the army as the country faces imminent war. Seeking a big enough heist to allow her to escape this fate, Ria embarks on a bold mission to steal jewels at the palace and is caught by her twin. The two girls, who look just alike, switch places. Ria finds she can access the snake magic as well, and she uses it to survive and spy at the palace, while Rani sets off on a quest to find a mysterious jewel to restore her country and avert war. The twins find themselves working on different aspects of the same problem as it becomes apparent there's rot at the center of the kingdom that must be rooted out before it's too late.

Review by Rowan, age 16


Pre-Order Now Badge
We Can't Keep Meeting Like This Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534440272
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - June 8th, 2021

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This is a heartwarming story perfect for all romance novel-loving teens (and grown-up teens). This story is written from the viewpoint of a teenage girl, Quinn, and follows her through a summer of loss, hope, and love. Rachel Lynn Solomon does an amazing job capturing the real troubles and triumphs faced by many teenagers today. I strongly recommend this to anyone who needs an escape from reality, and a way to rely on something bigger than themselves. This is for you.

-Review by Krin


Pre-Order Now Badge
Love & Other Natural Disasters Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062991232
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: HarperTeen - June 8th, 2021

Have you ever been so focused on what you think you want to happen, that it seems impossible when the happy ending turns a corner and ends another way? Especially when the happy ending with the turn of the corner is even better than the simple one? I have done that many times, and one of them was when I read this book. Though this book follows the same plot that many romance novels follow, and it is most of the time very predictable, it has a twist at the end, and is a great read for lazy days on the weekend. 

-Review by Krin


Pre-Order Now Badge
Better Together: A Novel Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250760067
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Wednesday Books - June 1st, 2021

Two sisters. Two opposite sides of the U.S. One camp. Better Together is the teenage version of 'The Parent Trap', with a twist. Two long-lost sisters meet at a summer camp, and who knows what comes of it, especially when one doesn't know the other exists. Christine Riccio weaves in emotion, romance, and so much more into this one-of-a-kind 'rom-com-dram' as she calls it. It's so full of hijinks that it maybe just works.

 

-Review by Krin


Pre-Order Now Badge
Where the Rhythm Takes You Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063018525
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - May 11th, 2021

This is one of the best novels that I have read. It has a light storyline and is a perfect read to get your mind off these stressful times. The integration of many different perspectives, lifestyles, and points of view are just a few of the many reasons this book is impossible to put down. If you are looking for a romance that will tilt your world, this book is for you.

 

-Review by Krin


Meet Cute Diary Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780063038837
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - May 4th, 2021

Meet Cute Diary is a contemporary love story that transports you into a world of twists, turns, leaps, and bounds. A world where challenges can be transformed into steps to accomplishment, and where love can turn your world upside down. It sounds familiar, doesn't it? This book shines a light on reality, the good and bad. Emery Lee with make you fall hard for the main character of this book, and not let that feeling leave, even after you have closed the book.

-Review by Krin


All Kinds of Other Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062962492
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - May 4th, 2021

This book was great - super relatable and funny. It's set in 2015 on purpose because it's not completely up to date in terms of technology or pop culture. The story is told from the perspective of two boys, Jules and Jack. Jules is cis and gay. He has to deal with a super-controlling mom, an activist who always wants to be on the right side of issues but who doesn't fully grasp what her son is going through. Jack, who is trans, has just moved to L.A. temporarily while his dad tries to build a career in Hollywood. Jack, who is of East Indian background, came with his dad because he wanted to live life as a guy without being questioned. Then someone at his new school outs Jacks past without his permission. Jules has to figure out a lot of stuff too, like how to deal with his mom when, well-meaning but completely obtusely, she says he doesn't have to feel he has to go out with a "girl," (referring to Jack.) The story really speaks to the gay and trans experience, but it still could be enjoyed by a wide audience. It also addresses intersectional discrimation.

=Review by Rowan, age 16


The Block (The Second Book of The Loop Trilogy) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338589337
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chicken House - May 4th, 2021

This compact book was really well written and compelling. Gritty and hard-hitting. it rides the line between science fiction and psychological horror. It's an incredibly fast read. I looked up and I was already halfway done with the book.  I thought, "I could do homework ... or I could finish the rest of the book." This is the second in a planned trilogy set in a futuristic, super stratified dystopia where the rich essentially make themselves into cyborgs, leaving the poor to suffer with no status, dignity or resources. Luka, the main character, was imprisoned in the first book (The Loop) for a crime his sister actually committed. He's slated for execution unless he agrees to be a test subject for experiments set up by the AI which runs the prison. The AI has decided to take over the world and destroy the non-cyborg humans through a zombie plague. The prisoners, however, having been subjects of this research, have immunity to the plague. They escape and try to save humanity, but are caught. That's where the second book opens, with Luka in another, even more brutal prison. This book centers on figuring out why the AI is doing this and what it plans. Making the story trickier to sort out, you never know if what you are reading is what's actually happening or if the character has been tricked into virtual reality. The plot might be far-fetched, but the story is more than just what happens, bringing up underlying issues which resonate in the real world.

Review by Rowan, age 16


In Deeper Waters Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534480506
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - April 20th, 2021

This book was the ideal carefree, heartwarming pandemic read.

It's got everything I could want in a book: princes, pirates, mermen, magic. It plays off all of the fun, relaxing tropes in fantasy and romance. The story was full of high action, suspense, with fun, believable characters that the author doesn't torture too much. I also loved the cover design. The main character, Tal, is a prince, but not the heir, as he's the fourth child in his family. He has been hidden away for most of his life ever since his fire magic emerged - the same magic his great-grandpa used to kill and dominate. Finally, Tal is allowed to emerge from his seclusion to go on the obligatory coming-of-age sea voyage. He ends up running into a pirate ship that has been totally abandoned except for a prisoner chained in the told. Tal sets the prisoner free with his magic. Though thankful for his release, the prisoner, Athlen, remains mum about his history and the circumstances that led to his being imprisoned. Tal, who feels an immediate bond with the prisoner, gives in to Athlen's pleas to "Just let me see the sky," only to watch the mysterious youth jump overboard. Tal is torn up over his part in Athlen's apparent sucide - but on his next shore leave, he discovers Athlen, safe and well. The story only gets better from there. I would recommend this to fans of A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. It's in the same vein,but a little more rose-tinted, with significantly fewer gritty relationship problems.

-Review by Rowan, age 16


The Prison Healer Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780358434559
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - April 13th, 2021

   I liked how this book had so many different elements. There were a lot of different things going on, but that wasn’t a bad thing in this book. The author did a great job explaining everything so it didn’t become confusing. I liked the concept of the elemental trials! There was one heck of a great plot twist at the end! (But it was a little disturbing when I realized that Javen and Kiva are - although distantly- related.) Can’t wait for book two!

 

~ Review by Elliana, age 13


Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250317315
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Teen - April 13th, 2021

This science fiction novel answers the question that has plagued readers for decades: why are sci-fi aliens always humanoid? The background to this story is that an ancient race, the Shapers, traveled the galaxy and beyond assisting all of the life forms that looked like them, providing advice and technology boosts, while putting obstacles, like acid volcanoes, in the way of races with different appearances. Centuries and millennia later, it's still hard for those races to get ahead. The main character in this book, Tina, is a fairly ordinary teen who learns that she's actually a clone of an alien space captain and her true appearance has been hidden to allow her to grow up. Now that she's mature, she inherits the former space captain's skills, if not her actual memories, and she's expected to step into the captain's shoes to step into an ongoing intergalactic war. She and her best friend assemble a diverse crew of young people with different backgrounds and skills as they try to figure out what's going on. This book was really great, with a fast-moving, compelling plot and featuring a diverse cast of characters that didn't just exist to fit a certain type but were full individuals in their own right. Their race/gender/sexuality was not their only character trait, but just a portion of what defined them. I'd recommend this book for sci fi and speculative fiction fans and queer readers of all kinds.

- Review by Rowan, age 16


The Key to You and Me Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062824585
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - April 20th, 2021

Piper. Kat. Two characters that are so different, yet so alike. This funny and heartwarming story about two girls who are set up to be friends by a grandmother (Does that ever work), somehow are perfect for each other. Jaye Robin Brown will keep you on your toes until the plot turns a corner, and then you will be bouncing up and down with apprehension. This story is one that will remind you that sometimes you just have to be patient.

-Review by Krin


The Theft of Sunlight (Dauntless Path #2) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062835741
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - March 23rd, 2021

This Indian/Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy novel, with a compelling story that gets better the further you read, breaks the mold in several ways. It's refreshing to see the main character treated as a whole person apart separate from her abilities and disabilties. She doesn't fall into the usual fantasy tropes. She isn't beautiful, isn't royal, isn't the one with magic. Rather, she has a physical disability and comes from a humble background. She relies on her intelligence to navigate a world that's mysterious, dangerous and often hostile. The main character, Rae, starts out on her family horse farm. Her sister has "forbidden magic" which the family has had to hide. Then Rae's other sister disappears, assumed to be stolen away by the "Snatchers" who seem to operate with impunity. Given the opportunity to travel to the palace to become a handmaiden to the princess, Rae seizes on the chance to use whatever influence she may gain to find out about the Snatchers and rescue her sister. She knows she won't fit in due to her country background and her club foot, which makes dress shoes painful and causes her to limp even in accommodating footwear. There are certainly some who discriminate against the unsophisticated newcomer, but the princess, who spent a year as a goose girl herself, proves a true friend. The author gets the balance just right - acknowledging Rae's disability and people's reaction to it, but not making it central to the plot. Instead, it's Rae's boldness and wits that take center stage as she tries to uncover the plot behind the Snatchers and finds it goes way deeper than expected - right into the halls of government. Rae is joined in her efforts by several original, complex characters, including a street thief and a young pharmacist.

-Review by Rowan, age 16


Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534464964
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - March 23rd, 2021

This book was an engaging, insightful, inspiring, beautifully written story of pain and suffering but also love and hope. I have never read a verse novel like Your Heart My Sky by Margarita Engle. This book shares the stark realities of the starvation and oppression experienced by Cuban's in Cuba in the 1990s. The story was truly an eye opener for me and I would recommend this book for readers of all ages. The depth and meaning it portrays is unforgettable.

-Review by Emma, age 13


Sing Me Forgotten Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781335147943
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Inkyard Press - March 9th, 2021

This story draws its inspiration from the familiar tale "Phantom of the Opera," but turns the story around in a refreshing way to give it more resonance in the modern era. Whereas the familiar tale tells of a young and beautiful (female) opera singer who falls under the sway of the disfigured (male) "phantom" who lives in the depths of the opera house, in this version the opera star is a (male) janitor with a beautiful voice - a young man with amazing natural skills but no training - and the "phantom" is a young woman whose face is disfigured in the way that reveals her fearsome magical talents. As a "gravoir," Isda is able to manipulate people's emotions, and even their memories. It is so refreshing to read a story in which the "monster" is the woman, rather than having her always be the beautiful victim/damsel in distress. This way, the love story is empowering rather than hackneyed - as Isda is seen as deserving of love for herself, not her appearance or even her voice.  In the world Isda is born into, graviors are supposed to be killed at birth. This almost happened to Isda, but opera house owner, Cyril, rescued her. She has since grown up in secret, rich in material comforts but hidden from other people.  As the story opens, Isda serves as Cyril's willing slave, manipulating the audience to maximize her foster father/owner's business. Then she hears a stunning voice and is drawn out of hiding, meeting the young janitor Emeric and offering to tutor him so he can gain a lead role - but she still has to hide her identity. Over the course of the book, the "phantom" discovers the full range of her talents and learns the disturbing truths behind her comfortable but limited existence, while blossoming in the light of her janitor love's unjudgemental regard. It's a story of imprisonment, sacrifice, love and regret. The end surprised me and yet seemed utterly organic. It was well done and I would read another book by this author.

-Review by Rowan, age 16


Phoenix Flame (Havenfall #2) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781547603824
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury YA - March 2nd, 2021

This novel is a follow-up to Havenfall, which I loved. Havenfall (legendary inn-at-the-center-of-the-worlds) connects to numerous otherwise inaccessible realms, although all but a few have been blocked off. The folks from the different realms can meet safely at Haven, but cannot survive far from the inn, thus keeping every realm separate and safe, though trade between the realms thrives. Each realm has its own magic, except Earth, which is the Earth we readers know. In the last book, main character Maddie is forced into the role as Keeper of the inn when her uncle is gravely injured. The only beings who can survive in all worlds are the Solarians, whose world has been closed off. Over the course of the first book, Maddie discovers that there are still Solarians on Earth, and in fact there's a thriving slave trade in Solarians, whose souls can actually be split to make magical artifacts. She also learns her brother (whom her mother allegedly murdered and who has vanished) is not only a Solarian but is still alive and was captured as a slave and possibly had his soul split. Now in the second book, Maddie learns that there's another way to travel the worlds, with a protective suit made of "phoenix flame." Using a portion of this suit she found in her mother's closed-off room, Maddie travels to another realm and finds her brother, but he seems to be unwilling to leave the service of the powerful Silver Prince, who possesses the rest of the suit. Back at home, Maddie visits with her mother in prison, where she's serving time for the murder which she didn't commit and which never actually happened. Then her mom "escapes" from prison in an explosion - actually taken prisoner by the Silver Prince and held for ransom. How can Maddie save her mother, her brother, the worlds, and abolish the slave trade, all while negotiating teenagehood and two possible love interests, the elite soldier Brekken (her apparent boyfriend) and a mysterious Solarian girl who she's irresistably drawn to?

-Review by Rowan, age 16


A Dark and Hollow Star Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534453678
Availability: Not On Our Shelves Now--Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - February 23rd, 2021

I really really really enjoyed reading this book. It was an incredibly engaging story with some topics that were in need of discussion in the current times, and where better than an excellent story? It has four main characters and alternates between perspectives in each chapter, and \all four of them are roped into a growing mystery that is wreaking havoc on the magical and non-magical worlds alike. I really hope we get a sequel in the near future!

 

~ Review by Elliana, 13


Dragonfly Girl Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062995865
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - February 23rd, 2021

This was not at all what I expected, but it was still really good and I whipped through the story.

I thought it was going to be about the imagined science and ethics of bringing people back to life. Instead, it centered on an organized criminal group  suggestive of the Russian Mafia. The main character, Kira, 17, is very poor and autistic-coded. Her mother is dying and they don't have enough money for the medical treatment she needs. Kira is not doing well in school but she's undeniably smart. She enters a scientific contest for people with Ph.D.s, submitting a research paper on the hunting habits of dragonflies, and wins. The contest coordinators only belatedly learn she's a minor. She makes a deal with another scientist to get the prize money, agreeing to work in his lab with other gifted teens.  One of the kids there is obsessed with curing death. Kira sees his notes, figures out what he was doing wrong and brings a rat back from the dead. Then the Russian Mafia kidnaps her and things spiral out of control from there. She's imprisoned and has to perform experiments effectively weaponizing her knowledge. To motivate her, they kill her friend and make her bring him back. It's not a fun time. I find the character and her experience as an autistic person to be really realistic. Her experience resonates, and I appreciate the fact that she's portrayed like a human being, not just a "walking calculator." I would recommend this book for fans of speculative fiction.

-Review by Rowan, age 16


Love Is for Losers Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780374313975
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - February 23rd, 2021

This book was a swift read, extremely funny and relatable. I got really invested in the story. The main character, Phoebe, who's almost 16, is preparing for the high-stakes exams they have in England. Her mom is crazy about volunteering and is hardly ever there for her - instead she's always off in some foreign country through Doctors without Borders. Meanwhile, Phoebe's best friend has abandoned her because all of a sudden the friend's whole life revolves around her new boyfriend. Phoebe doesn't like this guy. In fact, she's mystified by the boy-crazy behavior of everyone around her. She thinks she's never going to be in a relationship, equating the crushes everyone seems to be having to brain damage. Phoebe surprises herself when she ends up falling in love after all ... with a girl, Emma. At first she doesn't realize it as she starts engaging in all of these "dumb" behaviors she's seen the people around her exhibit. The rest of the book centers around how Phoebe balances her responsibilities and everyday stresses with all of these new emotions she never signed on for.

-Review by Rowan, age 15


As Far As You'll Take Me Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781547600175
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury YA - February 9th, 2021

This book is a powerful, heartfelt, coming-of-age-story about finding the people who make up your true family. The story explores the life of seventeen-year old LGTBQ+ member Marty who struggles with finding acceptance after growing up without it in his community. This book shares good, bad, and ugly moments in Marty’s life. The story touched upon important themes and I would recommend this book for readers 13 years and older. Marty’s perspectives are insightful and will stay with the reader long after the end of the book.

 

-Review by Emma, age 13