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YA Book Reviews by Amy

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YA Book Reviews by Amy: Books I Have Read When I was a Teen

I have discussed in previous blogs about books I have read as a teenager, but I wanted to talk about the ones that made me into the reader I am today. I did not read much in middle school until two things happened: my 8th grade English teacher told me that I needed to work harder in her class, and my friend had handed me my first Tamora Pierce novel; after that I was hooked on reading. I began reading for school with a new fervor, and I began reading for fun too for the first time in years!

These are the books that I read, some I was anxiously awaiting the rest of the in the series, and others were some great standalones. I truly devoured these books, and I think about them all the time.

Here are some books that I enjoyed when I was a teen!

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Beka Cooper is in training to become a law-enforcing officer of the Provost Guard known also as a “Dog” because once someone has gotten their teeth in deep, they will not let go. When Beka gets assigned to Mattes and Clary, two of the best Dogs around, she is pleased that she will learn a lot and get chances to prove her worth. Beka has a secret ability to hear voices of the dead through the lower side pigeons that lead her to some mysterious deaths that must be solved. Can Beka stay alive long enough to find out the who-what-when-where-why-and how of the mysteries encompassing her city?

Tamora Pierce was and probably still is one of my favorite authors of all time. In middle school, I read every book that she had written up to that point, and without sounding too dramatic, I believe it is her books that lead me to my love of reading and working at a library. The Beka Cooper series is near and dear to my heart since I remember having to wait for each book and was super excited to see what would be written next. I read this book when I was a freshman in high school and continued to reread Pierce’s other books! Beka is such a strong character and role model that  is easy to root for. Plus, the mystery was entertaining!

Available on Overdrive.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The original, and many suggest, the first YA title. Ponyboy is a Greaser and an orphan that is raised by his older brothers Darry and Sodapop. When he is jumped by the richer and more privileged Socs (socials), Ponyboy knows that he must stay out of trouble. One night after a fight with his brothers, Ponyboy and Johnny, a fellow Greaser and friend, find themselves in a situation with deadly consequences.

I read this book when I was a freshman in high school, and I was addicted to reading it because I just had to know what would happen to our band of greasers. This was the first book that I read for school that I completely connected to and remember the details to this day. The relationships and brotherly love between all of our main male characters was incredibly heart warming and remains a fond memory.

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

Shadowland by Meg Cabot

Suze moves in with her mother after the death of her father. Now living in an old house with three new stepbrothers, a cute ghost from the 1800’s, and having to keep her sixth sense a secret, Suze must learn that her powers have consequences, but also could be a gift to help the ghosts to be able to move on. Part mystery, part humor: this series is a lot of fun.

This is one of my favorite series when I was a teen. Suze is such a smart and tough character that all readers can do is root for her. It may have some jokes and references that are a little dated, but the premise is still strong. There are five more books in this series and they are so short that you can easily devour it within a day or two.

Available in Overdrive.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa believes that she has been graced, or has the innate ability, to kill. In her kingdom, she is used as a tool to hurt, torture, and kill those that oppose their King, her uncle. When she meets Po, a graced prince from another kingdom, she is intrigued by him and is given the task to learn about the mysterious leader of Monsea. Can Katsa and Po work together to save the kingdoms from an unknown evil and work out their differing points of view? And will they learn about their different graces and use it to their advantage?

This was the first fantasy book that I absolutely adored that wasn’t written by Tamora Pierce! The premise of the graces is so cool to think about that I have pondered more than once what I would like mine to be. Katsa and Po are so swoon worthy that it made me ship them harder than I ever did for Bella/Edward. I loved Fire, a companion to Graceling, just as much! A solid YA fantasy series that I recommended to so many friends over the years. Plus, it just became a graphic novel too!

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

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

The first in the Morganville Vampire series, Claire is a freshman at college and she has horrific experiences at the dorms, so she decides to answer a roommate ad to live at the Glass House; it is said to be haunted and the entire town seems to have a deadly secret as well. She meets her new roommates: Eve, the resident goth but a total softie, Michael the sensitive musician with a secret, and Shane, the boy with a past. Ghosts and Vampires and other paranormal creatures seem to have a hold on Morganville, but will it get a hold of Claire?

This short and sweet story (the first of 15 books!) that was definitely written during “the vampires are cool” era of YA, but I found the characters to be so likable and their relationships (romantic and platonic) to be fantastic. I just wanted to live in the Glass house with Claire, Shane, Michael, and Eve. I read this as a freshman in college and could relate to Claire a lot.

Available in Overdrive and as an eAudiobook in Hoopla.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

When the Earth is taken over by aliens, Melanie is just trying to survive with her younger brother and Jared, a man she meets during these trying times that she falls in love with. These aliens are able to snatch the bodies of humans, and the only tell is a ring of silver around the pupil. When Melanie is taken, an alien known as Wanderer is inserted into her body, but Melanie is not dead, she is able to communicate with Wanderer. The two begin to work together to find what happened to Melanie’s brother and Jared.

Actually, considered an adult novel, I read this book my senior year of high school. I was totally into Twilight, but I infinitely loved this book more. This is one of the few books that I feel was a truly great standalone book, and the ending still gives me goosebumps. I haven’t reread this book in probably a decade, but every time I think about it, I think about it fondly.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Cammie is unable to have a normal life since she attends the Gallagher Academy, a school teaching their students to be spies. Learning self-defense, to hacking, to dangerous field work, Cammie does not feel like your average teen. When she meets a cute boy that just assumes that she is normal, she pretends to be someone who she isn’t. Can she escape her unconventional life or will she learn that she can never truly have the normalcy she craves?

This series was one that I am glad I stuck with because I think that each book just gets better and better. The premise is sort of cheesy, but after reading it, I couldn’t help but like our main characters. I read this during the beginning of my freshman year of college and continued reading throughout the next few years. This series is a lot of fun!

Available on Overdrive.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary lives a regular life until her mother goes missing and she witnesses a group of heavy tatted and attractive people murder someone out in the open when it appears no one else notices. She learns that this group of people are Shadowhunters, a group of humans that have heightened senses due to their birth right and through their tattoo; they kill demons and other terrible supernatural creatures. Jace, Isabelle, and Alec decide to help Clary find her mom as they believe a demon might be the cause.

The beginning of Cassandra Clare for me. While this isn’t my favorite series by her, it is the first. Clare’s books contain the most drama of any books that I have ever read! Love triangles galore, misunderstandings between characters—all the time, and some of the most frustrating tropes imaginable, but Clare makes it appealing and fun to read. This book begins the shadowhunter world.

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.