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Young Adult Fiction

  • The Third Coin

    by J.A. Howard

    Rating: 9.50

    Plot: Howard offers up an expertly woven fantasy adventure that is well structured, moves along at a good pace, and brings together all the plot threads in an appropriate way.

    Prose: This is a very well written novel featuring great descriptions, smooth prose, and realistic dialogue.

    Originality: Some of the set pieces will be familiar to readers, but the book brings Arthurian legend into modern times in a way that is interesting, effective, and fresh.

    Character Development: The characters here are very well crafted, have distinct voices, and will feel real to readers. The relationships between the main characters—as well as their relationships with their peers—are believable and relatable.

  • Faithful And Devoted: Confessions Of A Music Addict

    by Jenna Rose Robbins

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot: The book is well plotted and moves along at a good pace. This makes for an engaging and entertaining read.

    Prose: There is a relaxed, friendly tone to the prose, as if the author has always known the reader. This pulls the reader into the author's journey.

    Originality: This memoir is original. The author's story seems fresh and will stick with the reader.

    Character Development: The author does an excellent job of turning herself and Marta, her pen pal from Spain, into a well developed characters. The two are funny and believable.

  • Secrets Return (Leftover Girl Book 2)

    by C.C. Bolick

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: This novel is well plotted and well paced, intriguing, and will hold readers' attention.

    Prose: The prose is well crafted, appropriate to the material, engaging, and will keep readers turning pages.

    Originality: The story is told in such a way that the reader is convinced of its authenticity. This telling is original and gives strength to the story.

    Character Development: The development of characters are excellent. They are layered, flawed, and complex.

  • The Night People (Book One)

    by Lane Alexander

    Rating: 9.00

    Plot: Alexander's novel is fast-paced and features an energetic and engaging storyline. The author provides readers with ample and logical backstories, while the plot rapidly unfolds, hooking readers and not letting go.

    Prose: Alexander's prose is clear, concise, and beautifully eloquent during the most nightmarish scenes.

    Originality: Alexander's work is certainly inspired by classic science-fiction and contemporary series. But despite these nods to other works, Alexander's voice remains fresh and original. Each horror and phantasm that the author brings to life is more gruesome and haunting than the one preceding it.

    Character Development: Alexander 's characters are well developed and believable. The author deftly provides creative backstories for each of the major players, which helps readers engage with them.

    Blurb: Alexander's novel will have fans of horror and sci-fi squirming in their seats with both enjoyment and fear.

  • Firebrand

    by Sarah MacTavish

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: While an intriguing, fresh look at an important period of American history, the book takes a long time to coalesce. However, the depth of research is evident and the story speaks to the heart.

    Prose: The prose is crisp and clean. The book features a fine balance of description and dialogue. Each phrase seems chosen with care for maximum impact.

    Originality: The wholly original plot and examination of slavery and the abolitionists in the United States is absolutely fascinating. Of particular delight is the frank look at the plight of Irish immigrants and the moral questions that arise when one is faced with a choice between family and faith.

    Character Development: Each of the characters is well developed with a clear voice. The character voices will likely speak quite well to any audience -- from young adult to adult.

  • Water Ghosts

    by Linda Collison

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: Collison’s energetic, fast-paced, twisty plot is pleasantly full of gruesome surprises and revelations about characters, the true history of events, and the power of dreams.

    Prose: The prose here is engaging and smooth. The author gives readers insight into the characters and moves the story along at a good pace.

    Originality: Collison’s vivacious and determined narrator will remind readers of books like American Gods and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. However, the novel’s intense plot and memorable cast of characters is wholly unique.

    Character Development: Collison treats readers to a colorful cast of well rendered characters, both sticking to and straying from popular genre tropes

  • The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards

    by Steve LeBel

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot: At times the story bogs down in details that do little to advance the plot or characters, but overall the story is interesting and well constructed. The author does a good job of throwing believable obstacles at the protagonist.

    Prose: This novel is well written, though the prose feels somewhat basic when when compared to that of other books in the genre. Some of the character interactions are awkward, but descriptions and actions are handled well.

    Originality: The Universe Builders is a master class in world-building. The plot centers on building—and fixing—worlds, which is an original and entertaining concept that readers will enjoy.

    Character Development: Some awkward interactions aside, the characters in this novel are believable, well-developed, and likeable. For all his power, Bernie is wonderfully unequipped to handle the problems facing him.

  • My Life as a Country Album

    by LJ Evans

    Rating: 8.00

    Plot: Evans's coming of age novel is fast-paced, stirring, and leaves the reader engaged and eager for more.

    Prose: This book is beautifully written and a pleasure to read.

    Originality: While the novel tells a familiar story, the details and characters make for a fresh and original tale.

    Character Development: The main two characters, Jake and Cam, are well developed throughout the novel. Both of their struggles feel real—and readers will be engaged by their story.

    Blurb: In this tragic love story you will root for Jake and Cam, while reaching for your Kleenex.

  • The Sailweaver's Son

    by Jeff Minerd

    Rating: 8.00

    Plot: This novel's plot is solidly constructed, interesting, and engaging from the very beginning. The story will definitely keep readers turning the pages.

    Prose: The steampunk style is well done and fits with the story. However, the use of Tak's name is oddly excessive -- in a lot of cases the pronoun could be used without losing clarity.

    Originality: What makes this novel original is the fabulous world building. The descriptions of this steampunk world is flawless and engaging.

    Character Development: Tak's character is very well developed. He all but jumps off the page, grabbing the reader early in the book and never letting go

  • Riding with the Hides of Hell

    by Stacia Leigh

    Rating: 7.50

    Plot: There are a lot of moving parts to this love story between Will and Miki, each of which has the potential to be fascinating. But perhaps because there are so many moving parts, none of them are explored in much depth, which will disappoint readers.

    Prose: The descriptions are on point and beautiful at times. Also, the author has found some effective voices for her characters. However, there is some clunky dialogue, and the perspective shifts between Will and Miki at times work to pull readers out of the story.

    Originality: At its essence, this book tells a familiar story: two kids finding their places in the world and falling in love. However, Leigh mixes that straightforward YA structure with motorcycle gangs and a fair amount of gender role reversal with the protagonists. And this works to create a book that is anything but standard fare.

    Character Development: Will and Miki both have strong voices and clear motivations for their actions. As with all good YA protagonists, readers will root for them to stop being such drama queens. And readers will root for them to finally figure out their issues with one another.

  • Plot: The plot scampers along at a good pace, providing background information and only a touch of tension, until the predictable conclusion.

    Prose: Werlinger's deft and skillful prose features vivid descriptions that place the reader in the story.

    Originality: The narrative, while enjoyable, employs tropes that will be familiar to fans of the genre.

    Character Development: Readers get a thorough sense of Caymin, who feels real and well developed. Supporting characters could use more background, motivation, and overall development.