The plot of One True Loves by Elise Bryant revolves around the life of smart, capable, artistic, and driven, Lenore Bennett. Each time she has a relationship with a boy, Lenore feels chosen and treasured—only to realize she has been nothing more than a chick on the side or a stepping stone to another relationship. Intent on protecting herself from the pain of such hurt, Lenore decides to live with her guard up and her heart on lockdown. However, “rooting out fuckboys and exposing their crimes against womankind” (29) proves to be a difficult mission with a friend like Tessa who is intent on writingRead More →

A junior at Willoughby High School, Eliza Quan is an ethnic Chinese girl who is smart although a bit prickly. A thinker who is passionate about facts and journalism, she doesn’t believe in self-aggrandizing or otherwise drawing attention to herself. In fact, she isn’t here to be liked. Similar to the attitude of her best friend Winona Wilson, Eliza doesn’t want to get noticed for the wrong reasons. However, Eliza does have one dream: to make it on the Wall of Editors. At Willoughby, the editor in chief of the school newspaper, the Bugle, is chosen by popular vote, and given that she’s the mostRead More →

The Shattered Castle is Book Five in the Ascendance Series by Jennifer Nielsen, and it is as rich with action and adventure as it is filled with lessons for living an honorable life. When Jaron Artolius Eckbert the Third defeated the Prozarian Army, he stole the Devil’s Scope and kept the secret for himself. Now he must not only defend Carthya from the vengeful Prozarians and protect his kingdom and his throne from the power-hungry Castor Veldergrath but win back the trust he lost from Imogen, who is furious with him for this betrayal. Nielsen weaves her plot with mastery and creates her characters withRead More →

Not just another Holocaust survivor’s story, Bluebird by Sharon Cameron is both fascinating and horrifying.  It prompts readers to consider along with Cameron’s protagonist: “Is this the world? Where nothing is fair? Where it is impossible not to cry? Where wars are not glorious or noble, just dirty and blood-soaked” (94)? It also prompts us to ask: Is it always better to know the past and the things that have happened? Cameron’s protagonist decides, “If you don’t know, then you can’t understand what justice is” (105). After experiencing the atrocities in Berlin during Hitler’s reign, Inge von Emmerich concludes that she has survived for aRead More →

Like the Fleetwood Mac Song “Go Your Own Way,” Eric Smith’s protagonists Adam Stillwater and Whitney Mitchell—in his novel You Can Go Your Own Way—must decide whether love and sharing their worlds is worth the risk or whether divisiveness and potential loneliness is their reality. Set in Philadelphia, Smith’s novel alternates between the two lead characters in its telling, giving readers insight and perspective.  A lover of old movies, music, and pin ball arcade games, Adam is struggling to let go of his father’s dream in exchange for his own since he feels as if giving up on the dream would mean he is alsoRead More →

With its first line: “The prison is always quiet but never still,” I suspected The River Has Teeth would be suspenseful and riveting. Erica Waters did not disappoint.  Her novel joins the ranks of good psychological crime thrillers like Silence of the Lambs or the television series Criminal Minds. Besides the main plot thread of girls going missing in The Bend and the mystery of who is murdering them, the book carries several other threads to keep the reader engaged. One thread follows Della Lloyd and her family’s magic, murders, and infinite crimes in brewing potions for customers with vengeful thoughts. The Lloyds live inRead More →

Set on Wilneff Island in Nova Scotia, Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel The Girl from the Sea revolves around the life of fifteen-year-old Morgan Kwon.  Morgan likes to keep her life tucked neatly into boxes, but she finds that plan unraveling when she meets Keltie. Keltie brings a sort of wild, chaotic, fairy-tale magic to Morgan’s otherwise grounded life. Keltie is a selkie, a seal who transforms into a human to walk on land for a period of time.  It is Morgan’s kiss that provides the magic for the transformation. But Morgan wants to keep that part of her life hidden from her friends Serena, Lizzie,Read More →

Seventeen-year-old Hannah Ashton is poised, disciplined, and focused.  Because her audition is approaching for the Corps De Ballet with the South Texas City Ballet Company, Hannah is relentless in her practice sessions. With its structure and predictable patterns, dancing keeps her panic under control.  To review her choreography when she can’t actually perform the steps, Hannah uses her hands as proxies for her feet. While engaged in this silent performance, Hannah’s best friend for twelve years, Astrid describes Hannah’s hands as looking like they are performing some kind of “badass sign language.” The only other pastime that consumes Hannah and can make her forget life’sRead More →

A senior at Grove Hill High School in Michigan, Aubrey Cash aspires to be a veterinarian, but her best friend Reese is cursed with a romantic streak.  As a cheerleader, she is constantly encouraging Aubrey to date. Using her “Disney Princess Face,” she plays matchmaker. But in Aubrey’s scientific mind, “The whole concept of true love is inherently flawed” (45). Basketball star, Webster Casey is new in town after his parents’ recent divorce. Because he lives across the street from Aubrey, the two form a connection until Webster inexplicably fails to take her to the homecoming dance as promised. After getting close to a boyRead More →