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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: Traveling Around the World Through Reading

I love a book in which the location reads like another character in the story. The setting has the ability to reflect the mood of the characters; the setting can cause joy or pain to the characters. The setting can be comforting or be the reason why a character struggles for survival. The location should be an integral piece in the book.

Another reason why I enjoy reading books with distinct settings is that it may be a new location I have yet been to. I like reading different settings from my own typical spots (i.e. library, school, Ohio, United States, Earth!), and I love seeing how the authors describe the setting through the eyes of our character. Many times, I would like to travel to these locations in the future, but for now, reading YA books will have to do!

Let’s travel through reading!

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

When Alaine finds herself suspended from her private school after a class presentation gone wrong, combined with her mother’s very public ‘scandal’ both decide to spend the next several months in Haiti until things cool down. Living with her Aunt Tati, Alaine works with her at the non-profit helping children receive a good education and meets new friends to explore her parent’s home city. Alaine begins to learn of her family’s connection to Haiti’s history and learns about her distant mother in the process.

This was truly an original read! I loved all the different aspects of writing (letters, emails, texts, and more) that made this book so much fun. Alaine is such a strong character and I loved that we—the readers—learn about her culture and her family’s past with Alaine. My favorite scenes were learning about her mother’s teen years through journals and letters. This is a contemporary read with a magical realism twist!

Available on OverdriveHoopla, and at the library* for checkout.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy is moving from the west coast to the east, and must drive her mother’s car to Connecticut. Amy has not gotten behind the wheel since her father’s death, and she is forced to face her fears. Along for the ride is Roger, a family friend, that will be joining Amy. During their many stops, both Amy and Roger will learn about themselves and each other. Will this trip heal both of their pain?

I can honestly say that I am not too keen on traveling across the country in a car (I most definitely get carsick) this book made me want to. Seeing some of the most beautiful and peaceful sites with a friend sounds like fun. This was an emotional read that Morgan Matson is so good at writing.

Available at the library* for checkout.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Lina travels to Italy to meet her absent father after the death of her mother. Lina has no want of bonding with her father, but after she finds a secret journal of her mother’s, Lina learns that there is a lot that she does not know. Lina will spend the summer learning about Howard (she refuses to call him her father), enjoying the company of cute-boy Ren, and discovering her mother’s past.

This was a cute and heart-touching tale about love and family. I really loved the setting (which makes me jealous because I would love to travel more in the future) and the events never felt like anything, but authentic. A rom com with some sadness!

Available at the library* for checkout.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius knows little of his Persian ancestry and culture, but all that will change when he and his family and travel to Iran. Darius meets his mother’s family in person for the first time and becomes immersed into the culture with the help of his new friend and neighbor, Sohrab. He begins to feel like he can be his true self; will this feeling continue even when he returns home?

Darius is such a relatable main character that struggles with his own identity which I feel like many readers will feel. This is a tale about family and the setting sets the tone for this book. Darius begins feeling like a tourist, but ends up feeling like Iran is home and becomes a piece of himself.

Available in Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

When Theodora’s father goes missing on a dangerous treasure hunting mission, Huck, his assistant and Theodora’s former flame, enlists her to help find him. With only her father’s journal and the knowledge that he was looking for a cursed jewel that was once owned by Vlad the Impaler, they travel across Europe to retrace his steps. Will they find her father alive? And is that ring truly cursed? All Theodora and Huck know is that their time is limited.

This was a fun adventure book that reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie. The artifacts, the history, and the chase seemed to make this book fly by. I love seeing author writing in new genres; Jenn Bennett is known for her contemporary works, but this is a historical fiction with some fantasy elements. Bennett is clearly able to write both genres well.

Available as an eBook on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

For Emoni life is like a recipe:

1 cup of responsibility taking care of her abuela and her daughter

2 teaspoons of passion for cooking, which she is now in a culinary class in high school.

1 heaping worry for raising money to go to Spain.

With a pinch of magic!

I loved that this book had actual recipes between sections of this book and Emoni’s passion for cooking was felt so strongly though the pages. Elizabeth Acevedo writes beautifully and since I listened to the audiobook, I really enjoyed the performance. This is another book that makes me want to travel!

Available on Overdrive, Hoopla, and at the library* for checkout.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Audrey Rose has been learning behind her father’s back about the new science of criminology with her uncle. Along with handsome student, Thomas, she learns about the gruesome events that are plaguing London: particularly the White Chapel murders done by the infamous Jack the Ripper. Audrey thinks that she might be close to finding the true identity of Jack the Ripper, but she may be closer than she likes, especially when it becomes clear her life may be in danger.

A first book in the series, this book starts off with an exciting plot that explores one of the biggest who-done-its in history. You can continue with Hunting Prince DraculaEscaping from Houdini, and Capturing the Devil. Each book has Audrey traveling to different locations around the world.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

*check the link for available copies or to place on hold


Hello everyone! I’m Amy and I am a Youth Services Librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. When I’m not trying to reach my reading goal for the year, I like to talk about what I’m reading to my family, friends, and coworkers. You could say I am a little obsessed with reading Young Adult books. I enjoy most genres, but my favorites include: Westerns, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Mystery. I am always looking for the next great book that makes me connect to its characters and hits me in the feels.