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YA Book Reviews by Amy

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YA Book Reviews by Amy: Royal Reads

It seems like many people are invested in royal families; whether it was the millions who stayed tuned in for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, watching television shows like The Crown or Victoria or The Great, or grew up watching Disney because of the princesses and princes. And I am no exception, I enjoy reading books about real royal and fictitious royalty.  

Why do we like to read about royalty?   

While I cannot speak for anyone but myself, I like to read about the difficult decisions, the political intrigue, and the romance.  

I may do a part two to talk about some of my favorite fantasy royals, but this list mostly contains real royals (with a twist) or dystopian societies with competitions to win the hearts or avoid deadly plots.  


The Seventh Sun by Laini Forbes 

Mayana is the daughter of Chicome family, a group of people that are able to control the element of water after sacrificing blood. Mayana does not have faith in in the sacrifices even though it is a part of her people’s belief system. Having to hide her opinions while showing off her abilities to be in contention to be Prince Ahkin’s wife, Mayana must compete against other girls with powerful elemental magic. Some of these girls will become friends and allies, while others will become enemies. Will she win Prince Ahkin’s heart while still being true to herself? 

Laini Forbes does a great job incorporating Mesoamerican history (particularly Aztec culture) with fantasy to create an original plot and setting that makes me want to learn more about ancient Central and South American cultures. Her main characters are compelling and I was left interested in the side characters’ stories as well. 

Available on Hoopla 


American Royals by Katharine McGee 

In this alternate history, George Washington accepted the position of King of America instead of a democracy; current day, the Washington family is still in power and Princess Beatrice will be the first Queen to lead America instead of her younger brother. Beatrice must prepare to be Queen and that includes finding a suitable man to be her husband. Samantha feels that as a younger sister to Beatrice and the twin of the beloved prince, she is the spare so she acts up and parties instead. Samantha falls for one of Beatrice’s suitors and two other girls, one willing and one unwilling, vie for the prince’s love.  

Filled with family drama, American Royals was a fun read with strong messages mixed into the plot. While each one of the four main characters of this book are flawed, the readers still will root for them to get their “happily ever after.” 

Continue reading about the Washington family in the newly released sequel: Majesty 

Available on Overdrive  


My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton 

This is a hilarious reimagining of the events that transpired after the reign of Edward VI, in which Lady Jane Grey was crowned Queen of England for only nine days before she was beheaded. But what if Edward VI did not really die? And Jane did not have to meet her dastardly end? What if the romance between her and her husband became a little more magical? 

This book is so much fun and had moments in which I was laughing out loud. If you like a spin on historical events, but still able to learn about the past, these stories are for you. Pick up the companion books: My Plain Jane which is about Jane Erye and Charlotte Bronte and the newly released My Calamity Jane. 

Available on Overdrive and Hoopla 


The Selection by Kiera Cass  

In this dystopian tale, America is chosen to be one of thirty-five girls to try to win the prince’s heart and become the future queen. She must compete against the other girls against her will to save her family and the boy she loves that she had to leave behind 

The Selection reminds me of The Bachelor combined with ‘old school YA’ with the main female protagonist up against a dystopian society, and she is mixed in a love triangle. While this book is cheesy at moments and frustrating at others, I found it completely addicting and difficult to put down. This is definitely a guilty-pleasure read, but I thought it was so much fun.     

If you enjoyed this first book in the series continue reading with The Elite and The One. Also, Kiera Cass wrote a duology about Maxon’s daughter going through her own selection process in The Heir and The Crown.   

Available on Overdrive and the audiobook on Hoopla 


Fatal Throne by M.T. Anderson 

Told by various YA authors, each of King Henry VIII’s six wives get a voice to tell the story about their life and love before the marriage ended either in divorce or death.  

This is a well-researched historical fiction book; told through the eyes of each wife, it was entertaining and educational. This would be a great book for anyone who wants to read more about King Henry VIII and that time in history.  

Available on Overdrive 


And I Darken by Kiersten White 

This is a reimagining of the life and infamy of Vlad the Impaler, only genderbent; what if Vlad the Impaler was really Lada Dragwlya, a girl that was raised to be ruthless and seemingly uncaring, but with a need to be a ruler to help her people of Wallachia. Her brother, Radu, does not have the concerns that Lada does and only wants to love and be loved. They both must grow up with their enemies and learn to become rulers. 

This was a powerful read; this entire series had me emotional and ended up being my favorite books that I read last year. Continue with Lada and Radu’s story with Now I Rise and Bright We Burn. 

This title is available on Overdrive 


Romanov by Nadine Brandes 

In this fictitious retelling of the last royals of Russia, Anastasia, also known as Nastya, is the last remaining Romanov princess. She is tasked to carry the only salvation of her family to Siberia. During her journey, she meets Zash, a Bolshevik solider that might be the only person to help her. Can she trust Zash with her mission and her heart?  

Any fans of the movie Anastasia will enjoy this reimagining of the fate of the Romanov family. This novel was well paced with an adventurous plot. This book was a nice surprise!    

Available on Hoopla  

For a more historical accurate depiction of the Romanov family, check out The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia on Overdrive  


Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte 

Keralie receives deadly visions of the separate deaths of all four of her country’s queens; the only problem is that she sees the deaths through the eyes of the murderer. Each death is as gruesome as the next. Keralie and Varin find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that can potentially leave all four of the Quadara’s queens dead. Can Keralie and Varin find the reasons behind these deadly attacks and who is committing these crimes? With many twists and turns, you are left wondering who, what, when, where and why? 

This is a Young Adult fantasy that has dystopian and mystery elements. This book was so entertaining and well-written. A truly original tale that will leave you breathless.  

Available on Overdrive   


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.