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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: The Books We Banter 

I read a lot of Young Adult novels, and it is truly one of my greatest passions! One thing that I love most about reading is sharing the experience with friends. I am so incredibly lucky that most of my friends enjoy reading, as well as all of my coworkers! I love discussing with someone what I am reading, what it is about, and how I feel about it… now that I think about it, that’s what I do here! But a conversation between you and a person that has also read it has its own merits.  

The reading experience is different when reading it along someone else; when you agree: you can fangirl or fanboy about the plot and characters, you have someone to help make the time go a little faster if you are waiting around for the sequel that always feels too far away, and someone that can open your eyes to a new way of reading the book.  

When you both dislike like a book, you can rant and vent in an equally bonding way.   

Or when you have differing opinions, entirely new discussions will arise about why you both had different feelings about a book  

Earlier last year, my colleagues have made it part of our job to read the same book and talk it in video format for the library. Librarian Sarah called it Book Banter! We would rate the book without the other knowing how we felt about it and discuss (without spoilers). This has been so much fun! 

This week are some of the books that were made into Book Banter and maybe you will give it a watch and read the book! 


Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby 

Two seemingly different life-stories come together in the 1940’s Chicago when Frankie and her siblings are left in an orphanage after her father cannot provide for them anymore. Frankie will deal with the hard truths of life without support and comfort living in the strict and unforgiving institution during WWII. The narrator must come to the terms of her death and learn how to move on. In the stunning conclusion our narrator’s mysterious past is revealed and Frankie learns from the past several years to become the person she was meant to be. 

This was our first book banter! Sarah and I had both read it for a book club. I personally enjoy book clubs because it forces me to either read some TBR (To Be Read) books off my list sooner, or I discover books that I normally would not read; this book was the later! I would not have originally read this book, but I am so glad I did.  

Watch our Book Banter! 

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


Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis 

Ashley was looking forward to spending the night under the stars with her friends and boyfriend in the Smokey Mountains, but when Ashley confronts her cheating boyfriend, she drunkenly runs away and ends up away from the trail. Ashley wakes up in the middle of nowhere and is completely lost. She must use her survival skills if she wants to return to civilization before it is too late. 

As I mention in this book banter, it was a tough read! But a good read none-the-less. I found that this book always had me engaged on what was happening physically and mentally to our main character. This book is one that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys survival stories. 

Watch our Book Banter! 

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


Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen 

Victoria finds herself in the situation that she must marry or her family will become destitute and she would be shamed. Vicky meets three viable suiters, each with a secret that could be disastrous. Vicky wishes her life could play out like one of her beloved Jane Austen novels, but with scandalous and mischievous actions surrounding her family, her goal is to just survive the season.    

I love reading about history during the Regency time period or as I like to call it, the Jane Austen times! Jennieke Cohen plays with many of Austen’s themes and character types, but Cohen makes it her own. Victoria was such a sassy character that will make readers easily want to root for her and her happiness. If you love historical fiction with romance, you should give this a try.  

Watch our Book Banter! 

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


Spectacle by Jodi 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. 

I will always speak highly of this book and its sequel. Nathalie was a fantastic character to follow and the mystery surrounding her story was compelling. This book has it all: historical fiction, mystery, and some supernatural abilities! 

Watch our Book Banter! 

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


Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds 

When Jamal tries, but ultimately fails to save his former best friend’s life, he is offered a second opportunity for Quincy to live. Q’s mother and Jamal agree to get Q back, even if it is for a limited time. Jamal decides that he must understand and forgive the situation surrounding this friendship break-up, but this opens up old wounds in Jamal and Q is not so easy to forgive. Will these two become friends again? Or will it just end in heartbreak and death? 

No one balances humor and sad situations like Justin A. Reynolds. We were so lucky to be able to discuss with Justin his writing process, his emotional connections to the characters he writes, as we share with him our thoughts. This was such an amazing experience and I believe it shows in our Book Banter.  

Watch our Special Edition of Book Banter with Justin A. Reynolds! 

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


Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly 

In this Snow White reimagining, Sophie will some day become the Queen of her harsh country; her stepmother believes that Sophie’s too kind-hearted and will not make the difficult choices that must be made to rule. Feeling like she must protect her people and her spot on the throne, the stepmother sends a hunter to remove Sophie’s heart. When Sophie survives the attack, she connects with the kind and unfortunate locals that will help teach her what it truly means to be a just ruler.  

This was so much fun to read and very funny; there were moments that I was laughing out loud at the situations that Sophie would find herself in and the dialogue. This was a very smart retelling of the fairytale that most everyone knows with witty twists and some old and new characters. Sarah and I had so much fun filming this Book Banter! 

Watch our Book Banter! 

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


I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan  

Dee has been into true crime since she was young and survived a potential kidnapping while her childhood friend was not so lucky; Dee had to watch as Sibby was taken by a masked person never to be found. While she refuses to investigate that old case, she anonymously records and produces a podcast about missing people (even solving some cases along the way). Dee’s identity is hidden, for now, but when a young girl goes missing in the same area as her past incident, Dee must look into the possibility of a copycat or the return of the person that took Sibby. Will Dee come to terms with her past?  

I was so excited that another librarian enjoys YA mysteries as much as I do! Taylor and I recently got to film this Book Banter while discussing our love of mysteries. This was a interesting case, with a likable main character, and a podcast atmosphere.  

Watch our Book Banter! 

Available as an eBook 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.