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YA Book Reviews by Amy

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YA Book Reviews by Amy: Books that Should Get More Hype  

Have you ever read a book, and after finishing it, you were like “How have I never heard of this book before? It was fantastic and should be talked about just as much (and sometimes more) than other popular books.” And after checking online or with you friends, you realize that it is an under hyped book. It has few reviews online or your favorite reviewer/BookTuber/book TikToker has never covered the book or author.  

I read books that feel like hidden gems, but after reading and loving the stories, they should not be hidden, they should be loved and enjoyed by more than just me! 

These are books and authors that I think deserve more recognition and more hype because these are well written characters, original plots, and atmospheric stories that I adore.  

 

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro 

Xochital has the gift of easing the minds of the people around her with her magical abilities; she is a storyteller that can take painful memories from her village and releases them without memory. One night Xochital decides to keep the memory instead of releasing it, betraying her people in the process, and she is unable to look at her people the same way. Xochital must travel through the harsh landscape of the hot and lonely desert to learn about her abilities and herself.  

This book was absolutely stunning. The poetry of the words Mark Oshiro has written (both the poetry and the descriptions) were magical. This book deflected from any obvious plot points or tropes and was a completely original fantasy that will make me remember it for a life time.  

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

 

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee 

Samantha must escape the only home she has ever known when the authorities are after her. While on the run, Samantha meets Annamae, a runaway slave. It is difficult enough being Chinese-American and African American, but they are also female in 1849. For their safety, they masquerade as boys while they travel west on the Oregon Trail. They cross paths with cowboys that end up becoming great allies. Can they keep the charade? Will the law catch them? 

Stacey Lee is one of my favorite authors of all time and I think she is an amazing writer. I will read any book that she writes. This is the book that started my journey to loving Westerns. I think what sparked my interest is that it has my all-time favorite trope: woman disguises herself as man, but also the grit and strong female characters.  

Available as an eAudiobook on Hoopla and at the library* for checkout.  

 

The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes 

Mayana is the daughter of Chicome family, a group of people that are able to control the element of water after sacrificing blood. Mayana does not believe in in the sacrifices even though it is a part of her people’s faith. Having to hide her opinions while showing off her abilities to be in contention to be Prince Ahkin’s wife, Mayana must compete against other girls with powerful elemental magic. Some of these girls will become friends and allies, while others will become enemies. Will she win Prince Ahkin’s heart while still being true to herself? 

This book was amazing. Lani Forbes does a great job incorporating Mesoamerican history (particularly Aztec culture) with fantasy to create an original plot and setting that makes me want to learn more about ancient Central and South American cultures. Her main characters are compelling and I was left interested in the side characters’ stories as well. This book needs to be talked about more! 

Available on Hoopla. 

 

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok 

The year is 1887 in Paris France; Nathalie Baudin writes for the daily newspaper; the specialized column she writes about is the new arrivals at the morgue. One day Nathalie accidently touches the pane of glass dividing her from the body on display. All of a sudden, Nathalie’s mind is transported to the scene of the crime where she witnesses the cruel murder of the young girl that was on the morgue’s table only moments before. Played backwards and silently, Nathalie only has a little to go on with a costly consequence. 

This was such an amazingly original concept that was executed to perfection. Historical fiction mixed with some supernatural elements, this novel will make you suspect everyone Nathalie knows. Be sure to check out Spectacle’s sequel, Sensational, in this duology. 

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

 

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne 

Zivah was born a healer, but when a deadly plague ravishes through their land, Zivah ends up becoming ill and her days are numbered. When she meets a solider, Dineas, she believes that they can help each other learn about the past and about their country. Full of political intrigue, Zivah and Dineas will spy upon their people to find the truth.  

Livia Blackburne is an author that I will read anything that she will ever write; her characters are strong and likable, with a well-developed world surrounding them. This book was emotional and really tugged on my heartstrings. I will warn readers that there is a plague plot line and could be triggering for some readers.  

Available as an eAudiobook on Hoopla and at the library* for checkout.  

 

Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney  

Lizzie Lavenza is enrolled as the first female medical student in the 1800’s. When she isn’t busy trying to prove her worth, Lizzie finds a Bio-mechanical creation that has thoughts and emotions. This Bio-mechanical used to be prized student Victor Frankenstein. Lizzie must figure out how Victor ended up losing his humanity and if this shady plot extends to her position at school. This is a historical retelling of Frankenstein with a science fiction twist and a bit of romance. 

I absolutely love retellings of classics because I find them clever and fun, Cadaver & Queen is no exception. This was a romantic story with a strong main character. Alisa Kwitney needs to be on the YA map for readers that enjoy historical fiction, science fiction, romance, or classic retellings.  

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

 

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson 

Historical fiction with a slight fantasy twist; Lee Westfall is looking for a better life and she believes she will find it journeying westward during the Gold Rush. She decides to disguise herself as a boy to follow her best friend, Jefferson, to California and find riches with her uncanny ability to find gold. She bands with a large and unique group of travelers on the Oregon Trail. Her journey is plagued with sickness, fighting within the group, and death is constantly surrounding Lee. 

I believe that Rae Carson’s fantasy series (A Girl of Fire and Thorns) was quite popular when it came out, winning the 2012 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults. While I really enjoyed that series, I love this one even more. A tough read at moments but it is completely rewarding.  

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

Amy

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.