Library Blog

YA Book Reviews by Amy

Spread the love

YA Book Reviews by Amy: The Books We Banter III

Teentober has been in full force for the last couple of weeks, I wanted to discuss a teen focused program we do weekly all year long: Book Banter! This brain child of several librarians in our system was a way to connect not only to our teens and anyone that enjoyed reading YA, but it was to connect to each other. Librarians that love reading Young Adult… UNITE!

Book Banter is a discussion between two librarians that have read the same book; we give a quick summary, without spoilers, and give a rating between a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Then we discuss characters, the plot, the writing, and so much more. I hope it is as fun to watch as it is creating.

Book Banter premieres every Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. on our social media:

Let me give you some of the inside scoops about the why the book was chosen and what happened during our filming!

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Willowdean does not believe she fits into the societal standards of beauty due to her weight, which causes tension between her and her mother, the former beauty queen of their town. Willowdean is finding her own confidence in herself and her body when co-worker, Bo starts showing interest, and Willowdean’s confidence starts wavering. To prove to herself and the world that she is worthy of love, she decides to enter into the Miss Clover City beauty pageant. There she and her ragtag group of friends will find the true meaning of individuality, friendship, girl power, and self-acceptance!

I read this book quite a few years ago and the sense of positivity and the amount of self-worth that I felt when finishing this book was incredibly powerful. We were so excited to have Julie Murphy be a virtual guest here at The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County that Sarah and I had to do a Book Banter based on one of her books. Getting to talk to Julie was such an amazing experience and getting her insight about her writing was truly special. This was such a positive Book Banter experience that I think if you watch it, you will be able to see Sarah and I’s grins throughout.

Watch our Book Banter!

Watch our visit with Julie Murphy!

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

The Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea & Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Lila’s life has fallen apart: her beloved abuela has passed away, her boyfriend has broken up with her, and her best friend has been incredibly distant. Lila has not been handling things healthily, and her parents decide she needs a break; for the three months of summer before the start of college, Lila is sent to live with her aunt in England. Her family hopes that this new location will be freeing of her burdens, and that she will find her love and passion in baking again.

Book Banter wanted to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and we wanted to read a wide variety of choices; this book was a contemporary book that focused on self-discovery. This is one of the more recent recordings, and it was fun recording this talk. We had quite a bit to say, and it was an entertaining book that I think if you enjoy books about traveling, food, and a cute romance, you should give this book a try.

Watch our Book Banter!

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

The Girl in the White Van by April Henry

Savannah is always the new girl—moving town to town with her single mother and living with her mom’s new boyfriends. When the latest boyfriend and Savannah get into a fight before she leaves to attend her only sanity: kung fu class, Savannah disappears after her class, some assume that she ran away and others suspect the truth—she was kidnapped. A man in a white van stole her away, and she meets a girl named, Jenny, that was taken ten months earlier. But Savannah is a fighter, and she knows that the first 48 hours are the most important.

Taylor and I never expected to continue with the theme of kidnapping themed books, but we are both into the Thriller/Mystery genre, and we kept coming across new books that we wanted to read. This book was one that I decided to listen to, and I remember spending the entire night, in one sitting, just enraptured by the plot and just having to know how it ended. Taylor and I always have a fun time filming since we have not seen each other in real-life for years. Book Banter has been a great way to connect!

Watch our Book Banter!

Available at the library* for checkout.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Chiamaka and Devon are both prefects at their prestigious high school; for Chiamaka it is not a surprise because she has always excelled in class and with her peers. Devon, on the other hand, is a good student but blends into the background and never thought he would be chosen. After becoming prefects, they are blackmailed by an unknown person named Aces; their secrets are exposed, and other untrue rumors are circulating the school. Not only are these posts harmful to their scholarships but endanger their lives. Can they work together to find out who Aces really is? And will the truth be too painful?

This book was on my highly anticipated new releases list, and I knew that Alex would be up for anything! I found out that Ace of Spades was also on her list that she wanted to read. I remember feeling so strongly about this book; I felt all the emotions, and I was so glad I got to talk to someone about it. Most of the time for Book Banters, we do not talk before hand, we are genuinely surprised when we reveal our rating and the discussion flows pretty seamlessly. I loved how passionate we felt about this book; Alex and I had one of our best discussions with this book, and I think it shows how powerful this story is.

Watch our Book Banter!

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Daunis lives several lives: the one in which she stays behind and decides to go to a local college instead of her dream college to stay with her sick grandmother; the life of living as an Ojibwe girl (her father’s side of the family) and her mother’s wealth and privilege that was marred by a scandal. The life in which Daunis refuses to be interested in any hockey player because they are trouble, but begins to fall for new boy, Jamie. When Daunis witnesses a murder, her life will never be the same.

This was a very tough but important read. I remember hearing Sarah talk about reading this book, and I wanted to join her because I read through the first 100 pages or so before life got in the way, and I needed a reason to come back to this book. Book Banter pushed me into not dnf-ing (did-not-finish) this book. I am so glad that I finished this book; This slow burn of a book has a huge payoff in character development and relationships between the characters and the past.

Watch our Book Banter!

Available 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 am so grateful that Alex chose this book for Book Banter; it was on my radar of books that sounded interesting, but I don’t think that I would have picked up the book this year if it wasn’t for Book Banter. I love that Book Banter provides an opportunity to read something that I was not originally going to read at this time or maybe ever. We Are Not Free is such a powerful read that I had to read both the book and listen to the audiobook. Alex and I have read  some very impactful reads together. This is a Book Banter you should not miss.

Watch our Book Banter!

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

The Ivies by Alexa Donne

Five girls are known as the Ivies, an elite group that will attend the Ivy schools of their choice by being ruthless and cut-throat. Olivia wants to be seen more than the charity case of being one of the few scholarship students and by applying to Harvard, she is secretly stepping on the toes of her friend and queen bee, Avery. When Avery does not get into Harvard, and other Ivy, Emma, does, friendships are ruined, and Emma ends up dead. Why was Emma killed and can Olivia find out who committed the murder before she is framed?

This Book Banter was a lot of fun because Sarah and I disagreed on how we felt about The Ivies. I will not give any spoilers, but this mystery caused me to defend my opinion, but also see from a new perspective. I like that the viewers get two opposing point of views, and then they can read this book and form their own opinion. This is a fun addition to the YA mystery genre and will be liked my many.

Watch our Book Banter!

Available 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.