Teen Advisory Board Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire and Heist Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781101931004
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - December 4th, 2018

This story is set in a modern world that's just a bit different from our own, in which humans live side-by-side with supernatural wyverns (like a kind of dragon in human form, but which can breathe fire.) Wyverns, like fabled dragons, love treasure, but they don't steal from humans. Instead, they play elaborate "heist" games among their own kind, the success of which then determines each family's status in wyvern society. The main character, Sky Hawkins, is a modern high schooler. Her mother recently disappeared following a failed heist and her family's status has taken a dive. All of her wyvern friends have deserted her, even apparently her boyfriend. Sky is determined to do what her mom couldn't and restore her family's status - and if possible, find her mom as well. Sky teams up with a non-wyvern friend and an older wyvern wizard with a hidden agenda - and what they find could change their whole world. This book was not what I expected, but it had its share of excitement. Even though it's billed as a teen book, the romance involved was fairly tame. I'd recommend it for readers 12 and up who like adventure with a little fantasy thrown in.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13.


Give the Dark My Love Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781595147172
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Razorbill - September 25th, 2018

This book was really compelling and I wanted to keep reading. It was also super-original and diverse - not one of your token fantasies, even though it is set in a medieval-style empire. Nedra, the main character, gets a scholarship to attend a prestigious academic to study medicinal alchemy. She wants to help stop this plaque which is decimating the population: The Wasting Death.Nedra turns out to be a natural in the field, but this is not a normal plaque. Its origin is magic. Nedra is distressed when her patients at the hospital where she volunteers keep dying, so she starts delving into a forbidden type of alchemy - necromancy. Predictably, things go downhill from there. I'd recommend it for dark fantasy lovers age 14 and up.
 
-Review by Colleen, age 13


Witch Born Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338277531
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Chicken House - September 25th, 2018

This story was really appealing, at times pretty funny and at times dark. It's essentially historical fantasy with a whole lot of "what ifs." It's set in the time of Mary Tudor and Queen Elizabeth, who are fighting for the throne. Meanwhile, the country is full of witch hunters. These hunters burn the mom of Alyce, the main character. But it turns out Alyce is a witch too. She's sent to an asylum, which she hates, and she eventually escapes. Immediately, she's being pursued by a bunch of witch hunters. Mary and Elizabeth also have their own reasons to try to get their hands on Alyce, so she's running all the time. With the help of a 12-year-old boy, Solomon, from a group of traveling performers, Alyce has to try to figure out the dark secrets around her. The story has lots of plot twists. I would recommend it for readers age 12 and up, especially girls, and fans of fantasy and historical fiction from this time period.
 
Review by Colleen, age 13


Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage Cover Image
By Amy Klobuchar (Foreword by)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781524771966
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - September 4th, 2018

This is a collection of people who were told "You can't" by other people or by the circumstances of their life, and who determined for themselves "I can." The collection includes the stories of a bunch of really diverse people, from a Holocaust survivor to black and Hispanic people who were not expected to "amount to much," to ethnic minorities to girls in sports before Title IX, to gay, lesbian, and transgender teens facing discrimination. My favorite was the one by Maulik Pancholy, an Indian-American actor who I know as one of the voices from “Phineas and Ferb.” Trained as an actor, once he started trying out for roles, he was told he was “too ethnic” to play the roles he really wanted and had to settle for something stereotypical and demeaning instead. Then, when he did start achieving some success, he'd get comments like, “There's actually no reason for that character to be Indian. Why make him Indian?” My response would be “Dude, is there some reason this character has to be 'white?'” I also found the essay by Danielle Vabner, the girl who lost a brother in the Sandy Hook massacre, to be really powerful, and I was moved by the stories of Kara Nirghin, the South African girl who found a way to minimize the effects of drought in her country; and Jillian Mercado, the model with muscular dystrophy. Everyone who has felt repressed by society or circumstances can find something to relate to in this book. I would recommend it to readers age 13 and up.

- Review by Colleen, age 13.


Darius the Great Is Not Okay Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525552963
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Dial Books - August 28th, 2018

This book was so good I couldn't put it down, despite being told to shut it three times during the same 4-H meeting. I finished it in one day. I had no background knowledge on Iran, where the majority of action in this book takes place, but it was easy to understand - the main character has only the most general knowledge himself. Darius is half-Persian and is going to Iran to visit his ill grandpa. Darius is a total nerd who likes Star Trek and Lord of the Rings and is full of obscure references I loved. Even these are explained within the story so you don't have to be a Tolkien buff to get them. Darius is really funny, but he also has depression, as does his dad, who he does not get along with at all. In Iran, Darius meets the first real friend he has really ever had. It's a great book and an interesting look people who are a little out of the ordinary. I'd recommend it for teens.
 
-Review by Colleen, age 13.


Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution Cover Image
By Kaelyn Rich, Giulia Sagramola (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781683690597
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Quirk Books - August 7th, 2018

This was a really good feminist guidebook for young women. I don't anticipate embarking on a petition drive or other campaign in the near future, but this book is full of lots of good ideas about things you can do when there's an issue you're concerned about. It also has some revealing information, like the fact that Hispanic women earn like 54 cents on the dollar compared to what white men make. That's really - wow. I'd recommend this book to people who liked Nevertheless We Persisted and How I Resist, as well as other guidebooks like Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13


Heretics Anonymous Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062698872
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - August 7th, 2018

We need to have more books like this. It was great, really hilarious. I could really relate to it, and I couldn't put it down.
The main character, Michael, and his 10-year-old sister have moved a lot, due to his dad's job. His dad, meanwhile, seems to put his work ahead of his kids. Michael's family is kind of mainstream religious, but Michael himself is an atheist. Now he has to attend this really strict, traditional, nose-in-the-air Catholic school. Obviously, he hates school, but he does connect to others who don't fit in, and they form "Heretics Anonymous." Besides him, there's an outspoken feminist who wants to be a priest, a Jewish guy who's also gay, a pagan, and a guy who wants to wear a cloak to school every day. They embark on a secret campaign to change the school from within, mostly through pranks like stealing the sex ed video and editing it to make it more accurate and true to science; finding loopholes in the school dress code and posting them in the locker rooms, stuff like that.
Then they take a prank too far and someone gets blamed for it. I would recommend this to mature readers age 14 and up - people who march to a different drummer.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13.


Heart of Thorns Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062447685
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - July 31st, 2018

This book started a little slowly but got interesting. It seemed like it would be a lot like other books in the currently popular vein of "warrior princess forced into arranged marriage," but then it started to deviate from the regular pattern with a lot of twists and turns I was not expecting. Mia Rose is a princess in the River Kingdom. The older of two sisters, she's always protecting her younger sister Angelyne, who is sickly. Her dad is part of the Circle of Hunters for the people called Gwyrach, who are supposedly evil magic people. They're all women. In Mia's society, all women must wear gloves and must be accompanied by men everywhere they go because all women are suspected of being Gwyrach. A Gwyrach killed Mia's mom three years ago and she wants to become a Huntress, the first woman to do so, in order to get revenge. She's planning that journey when suddenly she gets stuck in an arranged marriage to the king's son Quin. She tries to escape and fails. Then she finds out she's a Gwyrach and almost everything she was taught is completely wrong. A lot of shocking secrets are revealed. I'd recommend this book to readers age 13 and up, especially girls. I am glad to note, though, that the book has a very diverse cast of characters - not everyone's a straight white guy.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13.


Sanctuary (Sanctuary Novel) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534405332
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Simon Pulse - July 24th, 2018

This book was super-good, suspenseful and well-thought-out, with diverse characters and an interesting setting. It's set in the distant future. Fifty years before the story opens, alien probes came to the Earth. Then, a generation later, kids started having superpowers. This scared the general population, so they imprisoned the kids and microchipped their arms to negate their powers. This story happens in "Sanctuary," a prison for these teens which is orbiting the Earth. The main character, Kenzie, is a junior guard, a position for which she's trained all her life. She's totally loyal to the Omnistellar Corporation and believes all of the prisoners are criminals and should be locked up. Then she's accidentally locked in with the prisoners, which proves to be an eye-opening experience. Meanwhile, aliens come and start attacking, and the plot thickens. There will be a second book, which I am already eager to read. I'd recommend this book to readers age 14 and up who like science fiction.
 
Review by Colleen, age 13.


Contagion Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062574145
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: HarperTeen - July 24th, 2018

I powered through this in less than a day - just over four hours, to be exact. It was so compelling I couldn't put it down. The story is set in the distant future where space travel is much more advanced. Thea, the main character, has taken an intern research position for her summer job. Then her organization gets a distress call from another planet.  She and others go to the other plant to investigate, and they encounter unexpected danger. The story is really scary and complex. It was really interesting to figure things out as the keys to the mystery were revealed bit by bit. I would recommend this book to readers age 13 and up, especially fans of Unearthed.
 
Review by Colleen, age 13.


The Bird and the Blade Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062674159
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - June 5th, 2018

This was a really good book, though very complex. The beginning few chapters were frankly a bit confusing as the story jumped from one time to a different time and back again. But when you got further into the book, the story began to come together. It's set during the Mongol Empire. The main character, Jinghua, is a slave with a mysterious past who ends up with Khalaf, who turns out to be a prince. When his home and land is invaded, Khalaf and his father Timur, wind up escaping with Jinghua. To restore their fortunes, Khalaf decides to undertake an impossible riddle challenge to win the hand of the Princess Turandakht, daughter of the supreme Khan. Problem is, the challenge has killed every prince who has attempted it so far.
As they travel, Jinghua begins to fall in love with Khalaf, but she won't open up on her mysterious past. This can't end well, can it? The story is compelling, intriguing and fairly true to history, opening up a window on that era.
 
-Review by Colleen, age 13


Dear Rachel Maddow Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250146021
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Feiwel & Friends - June 5th, 2018

I don't read a lot of realistic novels, but this was surprisingly good. The main character, Brynn, has a lot of strikes against her - the fact that she's a lesbian doesn't even make the list. Her girlfriend has recently left her. Her dad left and resists all efforts to get in touch, while her mom has remarried a mouth-breathing troglodyte. Worst of all, Brynn is still mourning her beloved older brother, who died of a drug overdose. Oh yeah, and she's got dyslexia. Now her grades are so low she's been kicked off the one thing she cares about - the school paper. Challenged for a school assignment to write to a famous person, she begins an imaginary correspondence with liberal news anchor Rachel Maddow, which turns into a journal of sorts. I would recommend this for anyone who has felt marginalized.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13.


The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780425288863
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - May 22nd, 2018

I seem to have developed a "strange fascination" with this book. It's really weird, but in a good way. It's not your normal run-of-the-mill story. It's not even your normal run-of-the-mill story about hypnotism. When the story starts, Noah's already plenty weird. He has only two friends, and they're twins. There's Val, a social media star, and Alan, a gay guy who swears all of the time. Noah's actually a champion swimmer but doesn't want to be on the team, so he fakes a back injury so he doesn't have to compete. He's actually a kind of hermit and doesn't really go outside - until his friends convince him to go to this big party at a mansion. He ends up in the mansion's library, where he meets a strange kids named "Circuit," who hypnotizes him, then acts like it never happened. When he returns to his normal life, Noah finds a lot of things have changed just slightly. Alan, previously a DC fan, is now obsessed with Marvel. His couch-potato dog seems to be on caffeine. His mom has a weird scar she won't talk about. The only thing that's the same are Noah's "strange fascinations," including his obsession with a certain video on YouTube, an old man he passes every day, an author from mid-century, and a photo a class speaker dropped a year ago.
The story has lots of twists and turns. I'd describe it as similar to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda with the weirdness level cranked up. It was really strange, but I loved this book, including the random references to stuff like Harry Potter. I'd recommend it to readers age 14 and up who don't have a problem with profanity and lots of weirdness.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13


You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World Cover Image
By Caroline Paul, Lauren Tamaki (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781681198224
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - May 15th, 2018

This book contains some really good stories about kids actually doing something about laws, regulations or situations they found unfair. Like young people are doing right now in response to school shootings, it's really time for kids to start changing things. I was inspired by the stories of the teen who got the rating on the "Bully" movie changed; the girl who wrote Russia to ask for an end to the arms race and actually got a response; the girl who was upset about styrofoam containers at Jamba Juice and got the company to change to paper cups, and more. This book has advice kids can actually use, not necessarily something way out of their reach like going to the White House, but small steps that could lead to big changes. I would recommend it to kids everywhere interested in working toward a better world.
 
Review by Colleen, age 13.


Onyx & Ivory Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062652669
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - May 15th, 2018

This book ended up being very good. The main character, Kate, is 17. Her father was accused of trying to kill the king and he was executed, and she has been branded a traitor and exiled. No one really knows what happened that day, though. Kate thought her dad and the king were friends. So now she's working as a horse racer far away. Also, she is a wilder. There are two types of magic in this world. Magists are considered to be fine. They have to use stones to store their magic. Wilders, however, are outlawed. They usually have a gift with an element, but Kate has one of the rarest gifts. She can read animals' minds, and it turns out it works with humans too. Randomly, she runs into her old boyfriend, the king's younger son, who is being attacked by flightless dragons called Nightdrakes. They usually fly at night, but this time it's day. Anyhow, she has to save him, and then things get weird. I will be looking for this book when it comes out and its sequel as well. I would recommend it to teen readers who liked The Traitor's Game.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13.


I Am Gandhi: A Graphic Biography of a Hero (Ordinary People Change the World) Cover Image
By Brad Meltzer, David Mack (Illustrator), John Cassaday (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780525552697
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - May 8th, 2018

I really liked the art in this graphic novel biography of the great Indian leader - and all of the different styles were very interesting. Meanwhile, Gandhi's story was really inspiring. It's the tale of people rising up even though they had nothing, and a leader - Gandhi - who could have had a comfortable life as a well-off, high-status lawyer, and instead gave that up to fight for the rights of even the lowest status people. In school, we study all about war leaders, but there are other ways to lead. Gandhi led through peace and determination, and his ideas inspired the world.
 
Review by Colleen, age 13


The Smoke Thieves Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780425290217
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - May 1st, 2018

This was a really good book. It kept me motivated to read more. It has five main characters, with widely varied backgrounds and personalities, but it takes a while for the different stories to come together. There's Catherine, a princess doomed to an arranged marriage; Ambrose, her loyal guard, who commits treason to protect her; Tash, a young demon hunter who makes her living by illegally collecting demon smoke - a very risky business; March, a servant whose countrymen were all killed and he was forced into servitude to the oppressors; Edyon, the bastard son of an independent merchant woman and an unknown nobleman. He's a loaf, a layabout and a thief - and then he finds out he's heir of a king after the foreign king's legitimate sons were killed. The king's rivals, however, want to kidnap and get rid of Edyon. The story is very original, with lots of twists and turns. It has elements of historical fantasy but does not go in the direction you might imagine. It also has really diverse characters, which I appreciate. The book is big and seems intimidating at first, but you wind up reading it faster and faster as it goes on because you want to know what happens. I'd recommend it to lovers of fantasy and adventure, age 13 and up.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13


The Diminished Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781335016416
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harlequin Teen - April 10th, 2018

This was a really good book with a lot of good fantasy elements. It had a complex plot with dual main characters who switched back and forth from chapter to chapter. Almost everyone in this land is a twin. One of the main characters, Vi, is "diminished." Her twin died when she was a baby. She has to work for this temple, for this god she doesn't believe in - she's essentially a slave. The other main character, Bo, is "singleborn." With no twin, he's heir to the throne. He doesn't feel like he fits in. He is being forced into marriage to a girl named Penelope. However, he's in love with Penelope's male twin. Then both Penelope and her twin die. Eventually, Vi and Bo cross paths. There are some shocking twists as the story comes to a close. I would recommend this book for teen readers in general - it has a broad range of appeal.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13. 


Dread Nation Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062570604
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - April 3rd, 2018

I don't usually read zombie books, but this one is actually really good. Basically, this is an alternative history, in which the Civil War didn't end because one of the sides won. Rather, they agreed to stop fighting so they could deal with the greater danger - zombie apocalypse! So they freed the slaves to create an army to fight the zombies. The book is set 17 years later, when this young black girl, Jane, is attending a "finishing school." She's not doing very well at turning into a proper young lady, but she is succeeding at the secret curriculum - learning to fight zombies. It's a very compelling, fast read, an interesting book that should be very appealing for readers age 12 and up.
 
- Review by Colleen, age 13.


Orphan Monster Spy Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780451478733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - March 20th, 2018

The Amazing book Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen is about a girl who is a Jew during World War II. Her mom dies, and she is left to fend for herself, often remembering about how it was before her mom died. She meets a man, who helps her survive, by making her pass as Christian, and sending her to a boarding school. This great story has many ups and downs, and can be violent at times. Overall this is a great novel, with an amazing and important story to share with readers of all ages. 
 
- Review by Gretchen age 13


The Price Guide to the Occult Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780763691103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - March 13th, 2018

This book was really weird, but I liked it. Basically, the main character Nor comes from a long line of witches who always have daughters. They've lived on an archipelago off Washington for eight generations. The first witch, Rhoda Blackburn, set a curse on the family. Now they only have one "gift" each. Nor, the ninth generation, lives with her grandma, who has a healing talent. She pulls pain out of people like it is a physical thing. Nor's mom, Fern, is greedy. Her natural talent is mind control, so she has become famous and goes on all kinds of talk shows. She has gained all kinds of followers who have tattooed ferns on their arms in her honor. Fern can use other talents too, besides her own, but every time she does, she has to kill someone. To increase her power even more, Fern wants to make Nor into a blood sacrifice. It looks like there's going to be a sequel, and I want to keep reading. I would recommend this book to readers of dark fantasy, ages 14 and up because it gets pretty gory.
 
 
REVIEW BY COLLEEN, AGE 13
 


Tempests and Slaughter (the Numair Chronicles, Book One) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780375847110
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - February 6th, 2018

This book is clearly the start of a new series, and it has definite potential. Arram, the main character, is the youngest student at a magic academy, the Imperial University of Carthak, and one of the most naturally gifted students there. Generally looked at as odd, he's befriended by another unlikely pair of young students who are studying at high levels. Varice, who's developing a talent as a kitchen witch, has a knack for smoothing things over and bringing people together. Ozorne, known as the "leftover prince" because there's a number of heirs between him and the throne, is also very talented, though in different directions, and they become instant friends. As time goes on, Ozorne trains in war and politics, while Arram develops a rare talent as a healer. His experience in the field brings him face-to-face with some uncomfortable aspects of the empire, like slavery, the arena fights-to-the-death done for people's entertainment, and an attitude of eagerness to go to war as a power play. Meanwhile, as Ozorne gets closer and closer to the throne, some troubling things come out about his personality too. I liked this book and want to know what happens next to these characters.

- Review by Colleen, age 13. 


Before I Let Go Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781492642282
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - January 2nd, 2018

Before I Let Go by Manieke Nijkamp is an amazing book told with depth and thought. This wonderful book is about a girl who used to live in Lost Creek Alaska, but moved and she had to leave her best friend behind. They mailed letters to each other, to keep in touch, but one day her best friend died. I recommend this book for ages 13+. This book is amazing, with all of the plot twists, the depth, and the heartwarming sadness in this novel.

 

-review by Gretchen


The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316310277
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - January 2nd, 2018

This book is set in the same universe as Holly Black's previous teen books, Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, but with totally different characters. (A couple do make extremely small cameo appearances.) This is a very good story, with a lot of surprises, and it really makes you care about the characters, but after making you care about these people (fairie and otherwise) the plot leaves them at a precarious point, so readers will have to wait at least another year to learn what happens! Maddening! I would recommend this to readers age 14 and 15 or up who like dark fantasy and faerie tales.
 
Review by Colleen, age 13. 


Reign the Earth Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781681191119
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury UK - January 30th, 2018

I really like this book. It has a powerful female protagonist who doesn't let men do everything for her, even though her world is set up that way. The main character, Shalia, 17, is forced into an arranged marriage with a king of another country. He wants to kill all of the "Elementae," people who can control the elements. He does not know she is one of them. The plot involves her dealing with an abusive husband while keeping her secret and trying to convince him to work for peace instead of just killing people. It has a diverse group of characters, and a very good, well-thought-out story. I hope there's a sequel. I'd recommend this book to readers age 14 and up, especially people who liked Rebel of the Sands and The Last Namsara.
 
-Review by Colleen, age 13


American Heart Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062694102
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - January 30th, 2018

The great book American Heart by Laura Moriarty is a wonderful book about an America  that keeps Muslims in a camp like one in World War II.  One Muslim girl is trying to get away form that and is trying to get to Canada, where it is safe. She meets a brother and a sister, and the brother makes the sister promise to help her. I recommend this novel from ages 12+. It is a wonderful adventure that almost anyone could pick up and enjoy. 

 

Review by Gretchen