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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: Throughout Time and Space… Historical Fiction Edition

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I continue to come back to this genre throughout the year. I love reading about a past time and a location different from my own. Historical fiction is two-fold reading for me: entertainment, since I find the characters entertaining, the plot intriguing, and the setting interesting! But I also read historical fiction for the educational value; I love learning about things that I did not know before, or learn more about.

Here are some of my favorite YA historical fiction books that I read this year so far! I hope to read more before this year ends!

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Valora Luck is always planning for the future and dreams about reuniting with her twin brother, Jamie. She believes she can do anything if she sets her mind to it, including her and her brother performing in a famous circus in America. The only catch is that she only has a limited amount of days to convince her brother to join her while the are the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Not knowing the fate of this deadly trip, Valora will do anything to keep her family together.

The themes in this story about family were so important and well-written. Luck of the Titanic also taught me about how important it is to not live in the future, but to live more in the present. If you are a fan of the Titanic or would like to learn more about the disastrous journey, this is a great book. Stacey Lee is such an amazing author, who clearly has done her research.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Fallon is a princess of her Celtic kingdom, but after she is kidnapped by Roman soldiers, she is stripped of any control of her future and the things she once thought was true. She does not want to fight for the awful Caesar, the man who invaded her lands and played a part in killing her sister. Fallon is a fighter and when she is sold to become a female gladiator, she will do everything in her power to fight for her freedom.

This was really an intriguing story, and I was unaware of much of this history of the Roman Empire. I liked how strong Fallon was physically and mentally; plus, I enjoyed reading about the deadly competitions of being a gladiator. I listened to this book as an audiobook and found it to well-read and kept my attention throughout.

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

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

14 stories about 14 teens placed in a Japanese internment camp after the events of Pearl Harbor during World War II.

I do not want to write too much about this book other than I found this book to be incredibly powerful and important to read these stories since I knew very little about the Japanese interment camps. This is not only a must read because of the beautiful writing and the collage novel aspects (i.e. paintings, maps, letters, and more), but I also listened to the audiobook and that was beautiful.

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

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Mary Queen of Scots has a secret, she is an Eðian, a person that has the ability to turn into an animal magically. In a world that is persecuting Eðians, Mary is not safe, and if anyone were to find out about her, it could mean death. Mary is set to marry childhood friend, Frances (the future king of France). Will they have a happy marriage? Are they ready to rule France during turmoil in Europe? Will a local psychic help or hinder their plans?

This story is so much fun, and I find the authors to be hilarious. The authors started writing these books to rewrite tragic histories into something happier. Like most authors that write historical fiction, a lot of research went into this book. While I have yet to listen to the audiobooks, I have heard they are delightful!

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

The first in a series of reimaginings of Jane Austen’s works as murder mysteries; this story follows Elizabeth Bennet, and her journey of becoming a lawyer in the 1800s and her dream to work at her father’s firm. When she hears of a murder and Mr. Bingley is accused of the crime, can Elizabeth find evidence that Mr. Bingley is being framed and is innocent? Will Mr. Bingley’s friend and own layer, Mr. Darcy, allow any outside help? Can they work together and set aside their differences to save Mr. Bingley?

This was a lot of fun! I love reading retellings, I love Jane Austen, and I love murder mysteries… so, count me in! This had enough of the original tale, but with twists and turns to still surprise readers.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

In an alternate history, Hitler is still a powerful dictator in 1956. Every year he has a competition for people to ride across the world on motorcycles, the winner brings pride to their country and wins the prize of meeting Hitler himself. Yael has trained to impersonate last years winner, Adele Wolfe, and win a dance with Hitler and assassinate him. Yael will face deadly competition, vast lies, and may lose who she truly is in the process.

This was an entertaining read; I really enjoy reading alternate history and seeing how an author portrays the past, present, and future. This was a tight competition that had me sitting on edge. Definitely check out this book if you like a spin on history.

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

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Spetys

Set in Spain in 1957, American photographer, Daniel, travels there with his family to learn about the secrets that Spain has kept. Ana has secrets of her own that are threatening her position at the ritzy American hotel. She meets Daniel and they begin a working relationship that begins to turn into something more. During the reign of Fascist Dictator, General Francisco Franco, Spain and its people are hiding a secret, and this could become dangerous for Daniel and Ana if they dig any further.

This is a great, well-researched historical fiction. I learned so much about that time period and about Spain under Franco’s dictatorship. The air of mystery that surrounded Daniel and Ana was very suspenseful and to learn that the conclusion of the mystery really happened was shocking. A must read if you enjoy a good historical fiction with a bit of romance.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Baun Murphy

It is 1800’s Denmark and Marit possesses magic, a known ability that is not discussed within society. Marit was orphaned years earlier when her father died in a mining accident, and while she was never adopted, her young friend Eve has the chance to be taken in by famous dancer, Helene. Marit wants to watch over Eve, but also learn of the events that led to her father’s death, so she becomes Helene’s seamstress. Helene pushes Marit to do magic, but there is a deadly limit. Marit learns that her father’s death might not have been an accident after all when she comes into possession of a mysterious jewel. Will she discover the truth behind those deadly mines before it costs Marit her life?

This was such a great historical fiction that had magical realism elements and a compelling mystery. This was the first book in a long time that I was so surprised about a revelation that I actually gasped out loud while reading! I read this book in less than 24 hours and it was so difficult to put down. I also really enjoyed Marit and her relationships with the other secondary characters. I will definitely read more by Emily Bain Murphy.

Available on Overdrive and as an audiobook on Hoopla, 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.