Library Blog

YA Book Reviews from Amy


Do you love reading YA (Young Adult) books?  Our youth librarian from Boardman, Amy, runs our Teen Advisory Board group at the Library and she suggests the following books.  She’s shared a brief review for each title.  Happy Reading!

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds  

For Jack, life begins with meeting Kate— a smart, kind-hearted girl that will die within the next four months—every time. How does Jack know this? Because Jack is stuck in a time loop, one that begins with his meet-cute with Kate and ends with her death. Each attempt to save her life Jack risks his friendships with Jill and Franny, the two best friends a guy could need, his relationships with his supportive parents, and even his heart.

After a couple small attempts to change things, Jack decides that nothing is off limits; he becomes a different person and is willing to do anything all in the name of love. After underage gambling, breaking and entering, and one horrific night under arrest, is Jack even Jack anymore?

Recommended for teen readers who enjoy time loops, fruit loops, and a main character that knows all relationships are important in this contemporary novel with a sci-fi twist.

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao 

Lan believes her destiny is with Tam, a wealthy boy that her family approves of and the boy who has serenaded her every night with his music and poetry. Bao, a healer’s apprentice and orphan, only wants to find a family of his own. Bao has been in love with Lan for years and has been secretly the one playing the flute, wrote beautiful poetry about her, and kept the discarded heirlooms that Lan gifted to Tam.

After Lan finds out the truth, she accidentally sends Bao spiraling to find a new life without her; thinking it would be easier to forget Lan, he seeks out the river witch. Instead of helping Bao, the witch curses him. Now he is set out on a quest to save his home from an impending war with a Lan by his side.

Recommended for teen readers who enjoy fantasy books (and it reads like a fairy tale), with a strong sense of romance with political intrigue. This is a companion book to Dao’s other series, Rise of the Empress:  Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix which is a Vietnamese retelling of Snow White.

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely 

A futuristic dystopian that has the grit of a classic western; Gunslinger Girl follows Serendipity, Pity, escaping the confines of societal life at the commune and escapes  into an impressive town ran by constant façades and revenge.

One thing she has to offer is her services as a sharpshooter; with her mother’s pair of six shooters and an impeccable aim she will be the newest star of the show and even performs in the deadly finale.

But not all the drama in on stage, when Pity finds herself in the middle of a political turmoil when she is placed between the corrupt and threatening Mayor of Cessation and an up and coming Politian who has goals of becoming the President of this second Civil War-torn United States; she finds out not everything is black and white. Everyone has a motive, everyone has a past, and everyone can’t be trusted.

Recommended for teen readers that enjoy a strong female main character, multidimensional side characters, and not ever knowing who to trust.


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.