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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: Tails & Tales Part II

Summer Reading is here! Our theme this year is Tails & Tales.

While last week’s blog focused on books that featured characters with tails, this blog will be about characters that tell tales or stories. All authors are storytellers and sometimes their characters embody that trait. I tend to enjoy when our characters are creative and love to read and write as much as I do.

Here are some tales about storytellers, letter writers, and fanfiction enthusiasts!

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Weird things always seem to happen to Alice, but when a fictitious world comes into the real world and steals her mom, the only clue she is left with is a page out of Tales from the Hinterland, a book written by her estranged and dead grandmother. Alice thinks that if she is able to find this rare cult-classic story collection, it may lead her to her mother. Alice goes on a journey finding the impossible and trying to escape from deadly creatures.

I loved the stories within a story! While reading this book, I was almost more interested in the fairytale-like and cult-classic stories than Alice’s own story. Tales from the Hinterland is more than just an object, its an obsession. Plus, I think it is really fun that Melissa Albert published the 13 tales under the same title and made it into its own book.

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

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

When Wendy Darling was thirteen years old, she went missing and returned six months later without any recollection of what happened to her or her two younger brothers, John and Michael. Both brothers are still missing. On her eighteenth birthday, Wendy runs into a young man who looks like the boy she has been drawing and that she believes to be the boy from her stories: Peter Pan. But Peter Pan is just a story and a myth, he could not possibly be real, can he? Wendy begins to question what really happened five years ago.

This was a darker and more mature version of Peter Pan; the mystery kept me interested and questioning until the very end. Wendy is seen as a storyteller to both her younger brothers and the children she works with at the hospital. The adventures she makes up about Peter Pan just may have a grain of truth in them.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

When a girl enters the palace of the monstrous king, Khalid, she never returns. Every night Khalid takes a new bride and every morning the brides are dead. Shahrzad just lost her best friend at the hands of Khalid; she decides to seek vengeance by offering herself to him. But Shahrzad has a plan; she begins telling him irresistible tales that intrigue Khalid until he falls asleep. Unable to kill her, Shahrzad survives the first night and lives for another day to learn of his weaknesses and plans to destroy him. She learns more about him than she imagines and begins to understand him—feel sympathy for him. Will she seek out revenge or will she fall in love?

Shahrzad is a fantastic storyteller that is proven to keep Khalid interested in keeping her alive. I love that she is a strong female character that embodies justice. This is such a fun retelling of One Thousand and One Nights. I really enjoyed this reimagining!

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

After the suicide of his best and only friend, Charlie begins to write letters about his freshman year experiences. He finally meets some cool upperclassmen who become his friends, has a teacher that he can confide in, falls in love for the first time, and tries to heal from his past traumas.

A short read that packs a punch. Charlie is very relatable by the way he views his high school life and his surroundings. Charlie is writing to an unknown person about his life and struggles. This style of writing made the reading experience that much more realistic.

Available as an eAudiobook on Overdrive 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.

This book is inspired by Jane Austen and Victoria imagines her life like the novels she has read. 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.

Available on Overdrive and Hoopla.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Xochitl 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, Xochitl 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. Xochitl must travel through the harsh landscape of the hot and lonely desert to learn about her abilities and herself.

This book was 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. Xochitl is gifted with a magic that is related to storytelling. The layers of storytelling are incredibly rich from our character and our author.

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

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Four sisters live together with their mother while their father is off fighting in the Civil War. Meg, the oldest, is kindhearted, but vain at times; she would like to live more like their family did before the war, but they are falling onto hard times. Jo, tomboyish and a creative writer, finds ways to gather her sisters together (even if it’s just to preform one of her plays). Beth, sweet and quiet, tries to help those less fortunate than the her. And youngest, Amy, is spoiled and stuck up but has moments of compassion when needed. When Meg and Jo meet their new neighbor, a boy named Laurie, their little family grows.

Jo is very imaginative and is the storyteller of the sisters. She is constantly trying to put on plays and one of her favorite past times is reading. When she becomes an adult, she wants to become a successful writer and is willing to place that in front of any other goal. This classic story reads like little vignettes of lessons and character growth.

This title is available on Overdrive and Hoopla and at the library* for checkout.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is beginning her freshman year of college; without her twin sister, Wren, by her side, Cath must navigate this new world of writing professors, snotty classmates, an out-going roommate, and trying desperately to step out of her comfort zone. If it was up to Cath, she would spend the entire year locked in her dorm without having to socialize and focus on writing her semi-famous fanfiction of her version of the conclusion to the popular fiction series Simon Snow. Can Cath finish her story before the actual canon version is released? Will she make new friends and potentially have a date?  Will Cath reconnect with her sister and find some common ground?

Rainbow Rowell is able to capture what it is like to be a teenager that is a part of a fandom perfectly. Simon Snow is basically this world’s Harry Potter and Cath’s fame from writing fanfiction is a large part of this story. Cath is socially awkward and anxious and many will be able to relate to her, I know I did.

Available as an e-audiobook on Overdrive and at the library* to 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.