Category Archives: YA

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

book coverA modern retelling of Peter Pan, the book focuses on Wendy, who went missing with her two brothers in the woods, only to return months later by herself (and with no memory of what happened). Now five years later as other kids are starting to go missing, Wendy has a chance to get answers when she runs into a boy in the road, a boy Peter who she thought lived only in stories. The book is incredibly interesting as it combines the childhood story we know with a sinister mystery. Both the characters and the relationships are good, and it’s definitely a book that will keep you on your toes and eager to find out what happens next.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Esther Markov
Rating:  Highly Recommended

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

book coverI wasn’t ever going to read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on the assumption that, like many books written as late additions to an already stellar series, it wouldn’t hold up. I decided to give it a try and this book is a wayyyy better end than Mockingjay. I 100% recommend this book to anyone who liked the Hunger Games, since previous knowledge gives you more of those “omg I get what’s happening!” moments, but honestly you could read this as a solo book as well. Totally gripping and creepy.

Availability: USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Izzy Lott
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: YA with diverse cast of characters

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan

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When twins Jack and Jill were 12, they found a stairwell while seeking refuge from their overbearing parents who tried to fit them each in neat boxes. There they found the Moors, a place of the undead, werewolves and Drowned Gods. In order to survive the harsh world they found themselves in, they learn they need to embrace their true natures which their parents tried to stifle. After all, doors lead to where children need to go.

If you enjoyed the first novella in this series, Every Heart a Doorway, then you will enjoy this sequel. I liked this one more than the latest released and standalone book in the series, Across the Green Grass Fields.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Highly Recommended

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

book coverThe Black Flamingo is a coming-of-age novel written in verse centered around a mixed-race, gay teen exploring his identity and finding his place in the world of drag.

This was such a refreshing and sweet read. I share little in common with the main character, but I found that he was still very relatable. I felt like I was rooting for a friend and sharing in their joy and their journey of discovery throughout the book. It was an uplifting and wholesome read. Since the book is written in verse, it was also super quick to get through. Even though this is a young adult book, I recommend this to readers of all ages.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jamie Ourand
Rating: Recommended
Challenges: YA book with diverse characters, book with a color in the title

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

book coverAcross the Green Grass Fields is the latest and sixth installment of the Wayward Children series (the first being Every Heart a Doorway). It is a stand alone and can be read without any prior knowledge of the series. After mistakenly revealing a secret about herself to the wrong person, Regan discovers a door that leads to a world of centaurs and other magic equines. There she learns to accept herself and that she is destined to save the Hooflands.

This book has LGBTQIA and lovable characters, and is set against an interesting world. However, even for a novella I found the ending a bit abrupt and sometimes a bit slow. However, if you are looking for a fast, easy read and to scratch your inner horse girl itch, then this book is for you.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Recommended
Challenge: Book with a color in the title

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

book coverChildren often go missing. Sometimes, they reappear as mysteriously as they vanished, telling stories of the world they went to through a magic door that appeared just for them, clearly a figment of their wild imagination…or is it? Nancy is one such child. After returning from her world of the dead, she is sent to a boarding school, Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, that specializes in helping other children with her same “condition”. However, when she arrives she discovers all the students, and even the headmaster, have all gone through their own doors and are learning to cope with being back in this world in which they feel they don’t belong to any longer. Soon after Nancy’s arrival, students start to be found dead, and as the new girl suspicion against her starts to mount.

This book was a very enjoyable and fast read. While only 169 pages, interesting characters against a mysterious backdrop. This is an excellent start to a series of novellas that explore other characters and their world.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Highly Recommended

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

book coverEvelyn Caldwell is at the forefront of her field… of human cloning. She has recently divorced her husband after discovering he was having an affair with a clone of herself. As Evelyn is attempting to adjust to her new life, she receives a call from Martine, the clone, asking to meet where Evelyn discovers that the clone is pregnant, something that should be impossible. Later, not knowing who else to turn to, Martine calls Evelyn asking for help disposing of her ex husband’s body.

Sarah Gailey is very good at crafting interesting, believable and flawed main characters. The Echo Wife is no exception to this and through Evelyn, Gailey explores what makes us human, our relationships and decisions, and self-actualization.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Must Read

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

book cover(Deathless Divide is the sequel to Dread Nation.) After surviving their ordeal in the failed utopia of Summerland, Jane and Katherine have been separated and are on diverging paths. Jane, consumed by her need for revenge starts to lose herself as she hunts down the man responsible for so much death in his effort to cure the zombie outbreak. Katherine, believing Jane is dead, seeks out to start a new life in the reported zombie free California.

While I personally am not drawn to zombie books, I find myself thoroughly enjoying this series because the characters are vivid and interesting. This book is set in a post civil war America, where schools have been set up to teach Indigenous and African American children to slay the dead to keep white Americans safe. This series features diverse and lovable characters, with a dark and adventurous plot.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Highly Recommended

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

book coverI remember my best friend in 6th grade reading A Wrinkle in Time and absolutely LOVING it. She would carry it around and try to convince me to read it. When I saw the audiobook available on Libby I decided to finally give it a try. With grand depictions of other dimensions and creatures throughout, this would have been a good first introduction to science fiction. I am happy that I was able to listen to this book in audio format because it had a afterward read by Madelleine L’Engle’s granddaughter. It was nice to hear her speak about the author’s thoughts on the book and how she would brag in her classes that her grandmother wrote the book they were reading. Honestly, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I read it as a kid, but it was still fun to listen to as an adult. It’s a fairly quick read (or listen) and I recommend it to anyone like me who felt that they missed out on something big as a kid.

Availability: COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Erin Crawford
Rating:  Recommended
Challenge: Book to Film and Audiobook

Lumberjanes, Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

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I love the Lumberjanes comics, they are fun, exciting and great representations of different types of gender expression. This is a great read for the whole family. Gets me in the mood for summer, camping and adventure. A great read for the eve of the summer solstice!

Also definitely reminds me of the high jinx that my gang of friends and I got up to at SMCM. It did sometimes feel like we were at summer camp! In the sage words of the lumberjanes, “Friendship to the max!”

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Emily Nelson Ringholm, ’07
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: YA Graphic novel with diverse characters

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

book coverOne night, while a young witch Nova Huang is investigating a strange occurrence in the woods behind her grandmothers’ bookstore she runs into a childhood friend, Tam, a werewolf. Together they work to solve the strange events that have started in their small town while exploring their feelings for each other.

This graphic novel cute and cozy (both the writing and artwork), and features a romance between a non binary character, and an Asian character who wears hearing aids. I recommend this graphic novel for people who want a relaxing and sweet story, and especially for young adults who are looking for more diverse stories.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: YA book or graphic novel with diverse characters

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

book coverI loved this series, but I admit the first book was the best. The third installment was very good, but it really stretched the imagination. I enjoyed the simplicity of the first book more, but was glad to have some closure to the series. Snyder did eventually write 3 additional books for this series, but the first 3 can be read on their own. The end of the story was relatively dark, but very interesting. I highly recommend for an easy summer read.

Availability:  COSMOS, SMCM
Review Submitted by: Julie Hamilton
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: A YA book with diverse characters