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YA Book Reviews by Amy

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YA Book Reviews by Amy: Books Our Librarians are Thankful For!

This is the time of year that everyone tends to think about the people and things that they are grateful for. This year I have talked to my friends and colleagues and asked them to share a YA book that they are thankful to have read.

Their responses were a mix; some titles I have read alongside with them, and others are titles that I need to add to my ever-growing list.

The really cool thing is that all the books are different, some are newer releases and others have been out for a little while, and each book is a different genre, from contemporary, to mythology, to graphic novel, historical fiction and more.

These are the books that some of the PLYMC librarians are thankful to have read!

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Grace begins searching for her biological family after giving her own child up for adoption. Grace, who was an only child, finds out that she has an older brother and a younger sister, both whom are less than thrilled diving into the past and learning any more truths about their biological family or the mother that gave them up. Will Grace find a new piece of her family?

Far From the Tree - Benway, Robin

YA reader and librarian Beth said, “I am so thankful for this incredibly honest book and its beautiful characters. It delivers powerful and poignant messages of love, hope, and family.” I have read several books by Robin Benway, but I have yet to read this one. This contemporary sounds incredibly powerful, and I cannot wait to read this and share my feelings with Beth!

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


Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Zeus cursed the gods with a game with deadly stakes called Agon. During one week every seven years, the Greek gods and goddesses return to earth as mortal beings, and different families are tasked with the goal of killing them; if they do they inherit the godly status. Lore knows of her family’s history and does not want end up murdered like they were seven years previously. When Athena appears on her door step asking for help, Lore knows that she must play in the games.

Lore - Bracken, Alexandra

Fellow YA enthusiast and librarian Sarah is thankful for Lore because “I loved this one because it took me back to being a kid obsessed with Greek mythology but gave me a great YA story, too.” It has been described as a mix between Percy Jackson (because of the Greek mythology aspect) and The Hunger Games (due to the competition to high stakes). This is one that I have been meaning to read soon!

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

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Ostertag

Morgan has a lot of secrets that distance herself from anyone getting to know the true her; secrets like having a divorced mother that is constantly sad, friends that don’t know who she really is, and the need to escape the island she lives on to start anew. Maybe someday she can let the people around her know that she is attracted to girls and thinks about kissing them. When Morgan meets Keltie, and they become friends and there is potential for something more, but Keltie has her own secrets.

The Girl From the Sea - Ostertag, Molly

My friend and librarian, Taylor, is thankful for this graphic novel because its “about a girl who gets saved by (and subsequently falls in love with) a selkie. I think it does a great job at showing the complex feelings surrounding coming to terms with your romantic interests and the coming out process. I think it also does a great job at showing the environmental effects of the cruise ship/tour boat industry on small seaside communities.” This is a must read for me now! This sounds like an amazing tale.

Available as an eBook on Overdrive, 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?

Early Departures - Reynolds, Justin A.

Alex, my friend and fellow Book Banter host, stated that she’s thankful for Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds because life is short, and you never know what tomorrow may bring. Hold those you love close, cherish the time you do have with them, and live all your tomorrows, today.” I am incredibly happy that I got to read this book alongside Alex and Sarah for a Book Banter we did a year ago, and got to meet Justin A. Reynolds through Zoom! What an amazing experience that I am also thankful for.

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

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

In this historical fiction novel that is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, tensions run high in 1926 Shanghai. Juliette returns home after four years in America; as the rightful heir to the Scarlet Gang, Juliette must be strong enough to become the stone-cold leader even when her heart was broken by the rival gang heir, Roma of the White Roses. With a deadly sickness running rampant and people are witnessing a monster, Juliette and Roma must put their past and prejudice behind them and work together to save Shanghai.

These Violent Delights - Gong, Chloe

Librarian John was grateful to read this book because “It is a perfect blend of historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, commentary on political and cultural issues, and thriller.” I could not agree more! It was also a lot of fun to have read this book alongside John, and we discussed how much we both enjoyed it. We will both be reading the sequel, Our Violent Ends, soon!

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

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & 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?

My Contrary Mary - Hand, Cynthia

This series (especially starting with the My Lady Jane books) are part of the reason why my book club with my coworkers and friends came to be. I am incredibly thankful for the Lady Janies and Mindy McGinnis because if it wasn’t for either of them, who knows where we would be?! (My guess is that we would still be reading YA and talking about books with each other, but not reading them together in an official book club). And Sarah said, “I’m thankful for this book because I’ve been waiting for it.  For. Ev. Er.  Plus, it brought back some of my favorite characters from their previous series!”

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.