The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron joins the ranks of a long line of stories like Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1998), My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith (2015), Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (2016), and Don’t Tell the Nazis by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (2017).  Such novels capture the youth experience during the era of World War II.  Cameron’s, though, is based on the true story of the remarkable heroism of the Podgórska sisters, Stefani and Helena, two Polish Catholics who defied the law and safe-guarded several Jews.  Of her brave but risky behavior, Stefani asks, “Who else isRead More →

Set in 1941 in Viteretz, Ukraine, Don’t Tell the Nazis is a historical fiction account of events during the Soviet Occupation of Ukraine, the few days of “freedom,” and the German infiltration that followed.   Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch frames her story around real people and events so as to be true to the history but takes liberties to humanize it. Readers follow the heroism of Krystia Fediuk, a twelve-year-old girl wishing to bring the hope back to her mama’s eyes after Tato’s death from cancer.  Krystia steps in to take on the tedious tasks that could wear her mama down, but she feels powerless against Ukraine’sRead 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 →

Jessica Khoury’s science fiction novel Last of Her Name features sixteen-year-old Stacia Androva and Clio Markova, two girls who are like sisters.  Possessing an instinctual urge to keep Clio safe, Stacia trusts Clio even when she can’t trust herself.  Their existence is mostly idyllic until the threat of rebellion comes knocking. A vintner’s daughter on the planet Amethyne, Stacia lives in Afka, a valley town huddled between the hills.  Stacia is a tenacious young woman with a muscular build and mechanics certification.  Appollo Androthenes, aka Pol, is Afkan’s wrestling champion and Stacia’s protector.  The three friends share multiple memories, a trio against the universe.  ButRead More →

With tears in her eyes and her best friend’s blood on her hands, at age 14, Androma Racella is banished from her home planet, Arcadius.  Although a freak accident accounted for Kalee’s death, Andi had taken a vow to protect General Cortas’ daughter, a vow that she failed to keep. While alone and fighting to survive, Andi meets Dextro Arez, a Tenebran Guardian and the most notorious bounty hunter in the Mirabel Galaxy who teaches her the art of combat.  When Dex chooses duty over his heart, Andi steals his starship in an act of revenge.  Living for the thrill of a life dangling on theRead More →

Sometime in the future, when nearly everyone uses a “comm” to watch shows, read books, and communicate, Danny Wright drives a badass truck he has named the Beast.  The torque of the 340 horsepower 350 V8 shakes his body, and she growls “like a chained animal waiting to be released, with the power to claw through anything” (7).  Danny, who plays football and dates the darling JoBell, seems to live an idyllic life as a senior in Freedom Lake, Idaho, but his life is anything but typical. At seventeen, he joins the Army National Guard, mostly because the Guard will pay for all the autoRead More →