Just as Sara Zapata believes in doing good, no matter the cost, her brother Emiliano believes in the need to do something good with his life. Because of their convictions, they are forced to flee from Juarez, Mexico, to escape persecution and retaliation from human traffickers. Seeking asylum, they cross the border into the United States, but an attack ensues. Afterwards, Sara finds herself in the Fort Stockton Detention Center; however, her brother has escaped with the contraband that put their lives in jeopardy in the first place: Leopoldo Hinnjosa’s phone. Hinojosa is the man responsible for the enslavement and abuse of multiple women, andRead More →

Although Leah Johnson is a writer and editor, You Should See Me in a Crown is her first novel. Set in Indiana, the story features seventeen-year-old Liz Lighty whose life has been derailed by her mother’s death to complications with sickle cell disease (SCD).  Living with her grandparents where money is tight and taking care of her brother Robbie who has Acute Chest Syndrome, an inherited form of SCD, keeps Liz on edge. Because she feels like everything about her makes her stand out, Liz has mastered the art of being a wallflower.  On the fringes and out of the spotlight, Liz hopes to hideRead More →

We Unleash the Merciless Storm is Tehlor Kay Mejia’s sequel to We Set the Dark on Fire.  It picks up the story threads of Carmen Santos and Daniela Vargas, the two brides of Mateo Garcia.  In the upper class society of Medio, marriages are composed of one groom and two brides: a Segunda to nurture a man’s passions and emotions and a quick-witted and loyal Primera to nurture his logical and discerning nature. In this world, the power structure prioritizes the wealthy and leaves the rest to suffer.  Although the wealthy share a narrative about privilege and destiny, Dani knows their narrative is a lie,Read More →

The balance between humans and nature is a recurring theme in The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco.  In her cautionary tale about the long-lasting and detrimental consequences of man-made climate change, Chupeco also includes hope and redemption.  Furthermore, she poses the question: What if the world didn’t tilt?  Although the book is targeted more towards young adults than fifth graders, that’s an awesome inquiry question since fifth graders would soon discover that without Earth’s tilt, humanity would be in a sorry state. Set in both the sand-locked Golden City—where the sun is relentless and resources are scare—and in Aranth—where ignorance is a strength andRead More →

Despite there being few absolutes in this world, the human brain finds comfort in its ability to classify something as good or evil, right or wrong.  The unfamiliar or mysterious makes humans uneasy and fearful.  Shelby Mahurin explores this truth in her recent book Serpent and Dove, a story that takes place in a world of shadows, rituals, and magic. The characters that populate this setting in seventeenth-century France include Coco Monvoisin, a Dames Rouges—a red witch whose blood is a powerful ingredient in most enchantments. Wild, unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous, their magic is not bound by any laws or rules, unlike that of theRead More →

Because authors bravely explore controversial topics and ask important what if and why questions and then explore their potential results explains one of the reasons I love reading.  Authors who tackle bioethics are especially intriguing—perhaps because they ask significant questions before the moment when the decision seems like it has already been made.  With progress in life science, technology, and medicine, bioethical issues are increasingly confronting us on the evening news, in social media, and even in our own lives.  Books like Nina Varela’s Crier’s War not only open the topic of bioethics for young adult audiences but make it accessible. In this debut YARead More →

At eighteen years old, Selah is the seneschal-elect of Potomac, which implies that she will soon be the steward of her province’s resources, as well as the person to oversee its courts, its militia, and its administration.  However, as a woman in the historical time in which the Anna Bright’s novel The Beholder is set, Selah will need a man by her side to help her rule, despite her keen mind and kind heart. As her fiancé, Selah has chosen Peter Janesley, who is brilliant at math and at sports.  However, this smart, earnest, and kind young man rejects the extended marriage proposal.  Given Selah’sRead More →

Dressed in a disguise, the Queen of Mynaria plays the cello with passion and life as her ten-year-old daughter Princess Amaranthine sings in the ale houses.  But mothers die, and Mare becomes a different person after donning a surly personality, wearing it like a suit of armor.  Bold and brazen, she is vakos, a girl without magic and one with an affinity for trouble and without a knack for social pleasantries.  More comfortable in communities where horsemanship is a measure of rank, Mare falls in love with Dennaleia, Princess of Havemont who was betrothed to Mare’s brother, Thandi, and groomed to be a queen.  ButRead More →

With the writing of her debut novel, We Set the Dark on Fire, Tehlor Kay Mejia set out to begin an answer to some questions: What do we lose when we are forced to subjugate our desires for our drive?  How long can we keep ourselves in the cages in which society is so fond of locking us?  As she chips away at the answers, she actually asks more questions, as all good research will do.  The promised second book in the duology will certainly answer and ask more.  This daring and romantic fantasy will likely be appreciated by fans of The Handmaid’s Tale byRead More →