Account Login Winnipeg Toll-Free: 1-800-561-1833 SK Toll-Free: 1-877-506-7456 Contact & Locations

Reviewed Be First Books

Sunday, Jun 11, 2017 at 2:24pm

Here is the listing of our past Be First Reading Club books our teens have reviewed. These are now available at a McNally's near you!

If you are interested reading more soon-to-be books, check out the Two Thumbs Up program.

Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani
 Cover image for Seven Deadly ShadowsSeventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s bullied by the popular girls in school. Her parents ignore her. And she’s also plagued with a secret: She can see yokai, the ghosts and demons that haunt the streets of Kyoto. But things accelerate from bad to worse when she learns that Shuten-doji, the demon king, will rise at the next blood moon to hunt down an ancient relic and bring the world to a catastrophic end. Not exactly skilled at fighting anything, much less the dead, Kira enlists the aid of seven powerful death gods to help her slay Shuten-doji. They include Shiro, a kitsune with boy-band looks who is more flirtatious than helpful, and O-bei, a regal demon courtier with reasons of her own for getting involved. As the confrontation with Shuten-doji draws nearer, the fate of Japan hangs in the balance. Can Kira save humankind? Or will the demon king succeed in bringing eternal darkness upon the world?

"Unfortunately this book fails in the writing style, as well as getting the Japanese cultural aspect understandable for the western audience." -Sontaye

"I thought this book was cute and fast paced, but the story was fairly messy and inconsistent." -Kristy

"The idea was ok but felt it would have been better as a graphic novel or show because the story was very busy with expressions and ideas that were hard to nderstand." -Alyssa

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera (discussed January 15th, 2020)
Cover image for Infinity SonGrowing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures. Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day. Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be. 

 "Adam Silvera brings an interesting modern take on a classic chosen ones' fantasy journey. The idea was great but the book didn't quite do justice for me." -Jessica

"Brighton can fall off a cliff." -Darrah

"Good idea but an okay execution. I loved the LGBTQ+ representation in Emil and the rest of the cast of characters. I can't wait for the sequel." -Annabel

"An interesting book, with a great plot and characters. I will definitely read the rest of the series." -Dillon

"Unfortunately not Adam Silvera's best work, It's kind of confusing with too many plot twists." -Teddi

"An exciting new fantasy world with a nice mix of modern and magic. A fun, though mildly confusing adventure, but overall a great read. I can't wait for the sequel." -Ruby

"This is an amazing book that really takes you on a journey with Brighton and Emil as they explore powers, heroes, rivalry, and social media." -Addie

"I thought that this was a pretty good book. There were places where it wasn't clear which character was which, but I would definitely read the sequel." -Sarah

Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson (discussed November 20th, 2019)
 Cover image for Sisters of Shadow and LightZuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world—including their Paladin father the night Inara was born. On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out—leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother. For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.

"I thought the book was very tten and the concept was executed well. The writing was easy to read and descriptive but not to the point of being too much. The title of the book fit in well with the story and the characters." -Alyssa

"I felt like although the book started off a bit slow the world building and characters personalities really took off by the end." -Kristy

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (discussed November 13th, 2019)
 Cover image for WinterwoodRumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing. But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

"Magical and mysterious, the dark woods of Fir Haven are intriguing and I would gladly revisit them anytime." -Ruby

"I loved this book! The spells and Walker biography were so cool!" -Annabel

"I really enjoyed this book, especially the spell book chapters. I found them nice and quick to read." -Darrah

"I really enjoyed this book. I could remember the foreshadowing which came in handy later." -Schalin

"This is an amazing piece of literature! You need to read this if you enjoy mystery and suspense!" -Addison

"The book was good and enjoyable, although sometimes a bit unclear about things, but the ending was good." -Matteus 

"This was a great read, perfect for a winter night at the cabin. I loved this one, it is magical, dark, and mysterious." -Jessica 

"This is an exciting book if people aren't looking for a mystery but are getting more of a mystery then they expect. It's good for people (like me) who aren't big magic and fantasy fans but enjoy this mixture." -Sophia 

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring (discussed October 23rd, 2019)
Cover image for Tenth GirlA haunted Argentinian mansion. A family curse. A twist you'll never see coming. Welcome to Vaccaro School. Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist. At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored... and one of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence.

"I thought the story about the school and the history behind it was good although the author could have made a lot of things clearer. It's a short good story minus the execution." -Alyssa

"I felt like it was confusing and difficult to get into. I love that the author tried to break the genre rules and think outside the box but this book just wasn't for me." -Kristy

The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer (discussed October 16, 2019)
 Cover image for Speed of Falling ObjectsDanger “Danny” Danielle Warren is no stranger to falling. After losing an eye in a childhood accident, she had to relearn her perception of movement and space. Now Danny keeps her head down, studies hard, and works to fulfill everyone else’s needs. She's certain that her mom’s bitterness and her TV star father’s absence are her fault. If only she were more—more athletic, charismatic, attractive—life would be perfect. When her dad calls with an offer to join him to film the next episode of his popular survivalist show, Danny jumps at the chance to prove she’s not the disappointment he left behind. 


"This book has you on the edge of your seat for most of the time. It is adventurous and realistic so I found it really enjoyable." -Arianna

"This book isn't really my genre but it was pretty good. I felt some of the relationships were unrealistic." -Sophia

p>The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams (discussed September 25th, 2019 at the Saskatoon store)
 Cover image for Babysitters CovenSeventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it's kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she's good at it. Then she meets Cassandra Heaven. She's Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria cooking. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme's babysitters club? The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra's mother left her: "Find the babysitters. Love, Mom." Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they're about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

"I loved the characters and all the pop culture references." -Danika

"I liked the concept of the book, magic, etc..." -Liara 

"I thought there was a good balance between real life and magic, and the characters were complex." -Norah

"I really enjoyed the complex characters, exciting twists and well planned plot. I would definitely recommend this book for people aged 12-18. It was a perfect mix of magic and fun with a sprinkling of romance!" -Isabelle

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi (discussed October 9th, 2019)
Cover image for War GirlsThe year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they're willing to fight an entire war to get there.

"This book was a good read for people who enjoy Hunger Games and other dystopian novels." -Addison

"It was a painful read. I could not relate to any of the characters and found myself reading to finish the book and not for enjoyment." -Jessica

"I found the mix of sci-fi and historical fiction really fascinating and interesting." -Ruby

"I enjoyed the writing style of this book, but the plot and story-telling wasn't the best." -Darrah

American Royals by Katharine McGee (discussed September 18, 2019)
 Cover image for American RoyalsWhen America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America's first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she's breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn't care much about anything, either, except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.


"Daphne was an interesting character, the most interesting character in the story."- Ella

"I overall really enjoyed this book. I thought it was sophisticated but also fantastical at the same time. I recommend it to anybody who likes romance, drama, and fantasy." -Arianna

"I liked how the author dug below the picture-perfect image of the monarchy we always see. It showed us how the monarchs are real people with problems that are heightened as there lives are devoted in America. It also shows how the monarchs want their own lives opposed to one that belongs to million of others." - Sophia

"What I liked about this book is the characters. I think it was a very character driven book with contrasting personalities. I loved reading about the interactions between every character. I also enjoyed how I was truly able to see the ins and out and flaws of almost every character, it made me feel somewhat of a connection to all of them." - Rayhona 

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young (discussed September 11, 2019)
 Cover image for Girl the Sea Gave BackFor as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. When two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when they look to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

"Creative story line but I felt there was a lot of key information missing about the raiders, how Tova came back to life... etc" -Jessica 

"Overall, fun fantasy read! I really enjoyed the runes and the Nordic feel. Also the cover was beautiful!" -Ruby 

"Good read for fantasy fans, not a fan of the romance it felt too sudden and forced." - Amy

"This book was a fast-paced masterpiece! I would totally recommend!" - Addie

The Candle and The Flame by Nafiza Azad (discussed May 8, 2019)
Cover image for Candle and the FlameThere the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population - except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

I think this book is very interesting, but I would change the amount of characters and their roles." -Schalin

"The Candle and The Flame is a very unique writing style, with some good potential." - Amy

"I really enjoyed the story, however I was very confused by both a few plot holes and the vocabulary. I would have appreciated if the glossary was mentioned at the beginning so I could have referenced it." -Darrah

I enjoyed the world building and the story is also really awesome. There are a few small plot holes and confusing bits, but I love the characters." Ruby

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (discussed April 10, 2019)
Cover image for Wicked SaintsA girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war. In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

"Good plot, enjoyable character dynamics, and build up to possible scenarios in future books." -Rhiannon

"An exciting high-fantasy adventure, with plot twists that will keep you on your toes." - Ruby

"I think this is one of the best books I've read in this genre. Overall I would give it a 8 out of 10!" - Schalin

With magic, action and drama set in an expansive world, Wicked Saints is a great read for anyone who enjoyed The Crown's Game, Three Dark Crowns, and the Grishaverse books." - Maddy

Chicken Girl by Heather Smith (discussed March 6, 2019)
Cover image for Chicken GirlPoppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she's having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present.

"A quick, fast-paced read of diverse characters with their own unique stories." -Maddy

"A bit fast-paced, but overall a very interesting story that I really enjoyed reading!" -Darrah

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller (discussed February 6, 2019)
Cover image for Warrior of the WildHow do you kill a god? As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

"Warrior of the Wild is an exciting adventure set in a expansive world of creatures and adventure." -Maddy

"Good book. Lovable characters and very funny." -Amy

"I really loved the world building in this, it resembled The Hunger Games or How to Train Your Dragon. If you like fantasy dystopian you'll like this book." -Anna

"I really like this book as I really enjoyed the world building. However, I was a bit confused with the logic." -Darrah

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (discussed January 9, 2019)
Cover image for Two Can Keep a SecretEcho Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something.

"A mysterious mix of teenage drama and suspense. Good for fans of Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and similar series!" -Maddy M.

"Filled with mystery until the last possible moment, Karen M. McManus does a beautiful job recreating all of the qualities that had readers of One of Us Is Lying hooked." -Lauren

"Very interesting book! Characters are a bit 2-D, but overall a good read." -Amy

"If you like a short, cliche, twisty, kind of a mess, mystery; then this book is for you!" -Anna

Skyward by Brandan Sanderson (discussed November 7, 2018)
Cover image for SkywardSpensa's world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what's left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa's dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father's--a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa's chances of attending flight school at slim to none. No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

"I really liked this book, although I was left with a lot of questions at the end. I would definitely read the next book." -Darrah

"It was okay. I'm not sure I would read the second, but definitely worth checking out." -Amy

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (discussed October 3, 2018)
Cover image for Boneless Mercies Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere. Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling.

"Super good for anyone who loves mythology and women representation in it!" -Amy

"The Boneless Mercies is kind of boring at the beginning, but it gets a lot better. I enjoyed the ending, but I think the author should have stuck with the names from the original norse mythology." -Darrah

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (discussed September 12, 2018)
Cover image for Spark of White FireIn a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back. Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali. It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart. A Spark of White Fire is inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories.

"Full of twists and turns, guaranteed to keep you guessing until the last page." -Amy

"Exciting, fast paced, and dramatic, A Spark of White Fire is a short, enjoyable read for any lover of space, royal drama, and adventure." -Maddy

"I really liked this book and can't wait for the next one. It was very well-written and I cried when a certain character died." -Darrah

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (discussed May 16, 2018)
 Cover image for Monday's Not ComingMonday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

"This book will help you to remember how important friendships really are." -Callie

"I really enjoyed this book, as I reread it I noticed a bunch of 'breadcrumbs', as Claudia called them. Very well written!" - Darrah

"Beautifully written and enthralling, Monday's Not Coming is a heartbreaking story of two girls ripped apart by unimaginable terrors and the determination of one girl to find the other." -Maddy

"A book that'll keep you on the edge of your seat." - Emma

"A rollercoaster of emotion. A must-read!" -Michael

Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge (discussed April 11, 2018)
Cover image for Verdigris Deep Ryan feels invisible: At school, he's in a class with students older and cooler than him, and at home, he's largely ignored during his parents' petty arguments. And then he meets Josh. Josh is popular in the way that only beautiful boys can be-he's almost electric. Both Ryan and his chatterbox sidekick, Chelle, fall under Josh's spell, and the three soon become inseparable. One summer afternoon, they sneak off to the troubled town of Magwhite. Trapped without bus fare for the ride home, Josh convinces his less mischievous companions their only solution is to steal coins from the infamous wishing well. Soon after, each develops a unique, sinister power. When the will witch appears, she gargles demands of her three new servants.

"This book is timeless and unrustable! Just the right dose of creepy." -Ola

"A novel about an average British town through a different, upside-down way of seeing things." -Maddy

"Eye did not see that amazing twist coming!" -Lauren

"Frances Hardinge again comes out with a descriptive masterpiece that'll keep you itching for more." -Emma

"An eye-opening tale that takes the saying 'be careful what you wish for' to a whole new level." -Catarina

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (discussed March 14, 2018)
Cover image for Wicked DeepWelcome to the cursed town of Sparrow, where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under. Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into. Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. Only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

"Just like the Swan sisters, The Wicked Deep lures you in and doesn't let go." -Lauren

"It leaves you wondering if magic is real until the very last moment." -Ola

"A wicked tale of secrets and revenge." -Maddy

"I thought it was a compelling story that sixed reality with believable supernatural events." -Aidan

"Took my breath away, and what an amazing cover." -Sarah

Tess of the Road  by Rachel Hartman (Discussed February 21, 2018)
Cover image for Tess of the RoadIn the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy. Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret.

"A feel-good book where the journey is more important than the destination." -Ola

"Had some funny moments, but very confusing at times. I couldn't really picture the world, but I did appreciate the humorous moments." -Leah

"An exciting story filled with metaphors set in an odd, confusing world." -Maddy

"An adventurous journey of the soul and a magical realm." -Lauren

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi (Discussed January 17, 2018)
 Cover image for Land of Permanent GoodbyesIn a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future. In the wake of destruction, he's threatened by Daesh fighters and witnesses a public beheading. Tareq's family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey. But while this is one family's story, it is also the timeless tale of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss.

"A deeply harrowing novel about love and loss and the unconquerable human spirit." -Maddy

"A relentless book telling the story of refugees and their struggles. I can't help but stress that you MUST read this book. -Emma

"An eye-opening and honest look at the horrible issues at hand." -Lauren

"This book is well-suited for classroom discussions and deeper research." -Sabrina

Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller (Discussed November 8, 2017)
 There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it—you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality, there are no laws to break or rules to obey. You can live your best life. Indulge every desire. It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played. Welcome to Otherworld, where reality is dead. Step into the future. Leave your body behind. The frightening future that Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have imagined is not far away. Otherworld asks the question we'll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?

"It would make a great film!" -Ola

"This book was out of this world." -Katie

"This book had a lot of potential, but a lot of plotholes too. It's like a poorly written Ready Player One." -Chloé

"An EXTREMELY fast paced book with an interesting concept that could have been thought out and planned a lot better." -Maddy

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (Discussed October 11, 2017)
Cover image for All the Crooked SaintsAny visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars. At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo. 

"I like Stiefvater's writing style and how it shines through in the characters." -Chloé

"Darkness, romance, miracles, family... Reading this book will be your miracle." -Emma

"It's more of a road trip than a book, but it's the best one I've ever gone on." -Ola

"A book filled with plenty of miracles that started out from the darkness." -Shaylyn

"A tale that leaves you reflectiong on the darkness within yourself and the miracle needed to be its light." -Catarina

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Discussed September 13, 2017)
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with an administration at her high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv's mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

"This book will make you angry at some characters but also extremely proud at the amount of MOXIE girls can have to change the world." - Maddy

"Moxie will take you back to the revolution that was the Riot Grrrls with modern twists added." -Sabrina

"It's really cool to see a book like this get published. It shares an important message and I hope I see more stuff like this make waves." -Chloé

"A very empowering book about feminism that makes you feel inspired." - Callie

"It's the best feminist novel about standing up for yourself and others that I've read in a long time!" - Lauren

"I found the book to be a fairly accurate representation of feminism in the teen world. It was a refreshing take to view the main character as someone not already a feminist but someone learning and going through what feminism is with little to no exposure previous." -Mily

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Discussed June 8, 2017)
Cover image for Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueHenry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores

"Witty banter, pirates, and gay romance. What more could you want?" -Sabrina

"This makes me want to run off and become a fake pirate, so if that happens, I blame Mackenzi Lee's work of art." -Chloé

"A must read of 2017, filled with "pirates," inside jokes, and an interesting perspective on life in the 1700s." -Lauren

"Best friends turn to drinks, pirates, and love to survive a tour full of danger and promises." -Sabrina

"An abso-bloody-lutely amazing story with a creative and diverse cast." -Maddy

"Not for fans of Richard Peele." -Stephanie

"An inspirational novel that touches on the silent struggle of the LGBTQIA community and racial groups in the 1700s." -Callie

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Discussed May 11, 2017)
Cover image for Face Like GlassIn the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies and enchantments beyond compare. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell's expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed.

"This book will make you go cartographic." -Lauren

"A dark trip through a fantastical underground world." -Katie

"Cheese,fine wines, and tasteful lies." -Sabrina

"A Face Like Glass is an amazing, dark, well-paced adventure. Cheese will never be the same for me." -Chloé

"A dark Wonderland-type book with thorough characters and an incredibly well-thought out plot. " -Maddy

"This book will bring out many different emotions in whoever reads it." -Callie

"Spellbinding and original, readers are in for quite a treat." -Sabrina

Bang by Barry Lyga (Discussed April 13, 2017)
Cover image for BangSebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun. Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this. Now he needs a gun to get out. 

"Very good, very sad, very intense." -Maddy

"This book brings you on a journey of thought, with the knowledge of impending doom. It wavers your typical joyful resolution, and reminds you that happy endings are not always happily-ever-after." -Kaily

"Bang gives us the perspective of Sebastian Coby, a boy who accidentally killed his sister when he was four. It gives a good outlook on what it could feel like living with such a dark past." -Shaylyn

"A book that touches upon many important topics of today." -Callie

"Bang was a fascinating, intense read that left you wondering about the impact of others and forgiveness." -Lauren

"I found the subject matter of this book really relevant, especially considering how American culture currently feels about guns." -Chloé

"An intense look into the psychology of smalltown USA." -Katie

"Bang is a poetic and fascinating look at the psyche of a young person coping with the effects of shooting his sister. I loved how the author took us through his attempts at being a kid compared to his suicide attempt. It also tackles multiple heavy issues within our society today. I highly recommend!" -Emily

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (Discussed March 16, 2017)
Cover image for Blood Rose RebellionThough Anna Arden's family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren and unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s native Hungary. There, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, not the society she’s known all her life, and not her lack of magic. As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power, or embrace her ability and change the world forever.

"A wonderful tie-in of magic and Hungarian history. Beautiful world-building. Strong lack of puns." -Ola

"Luminate your way to the truth in this misshapen society of a misshapen girl." -Emma

"Interesting world and plot. Main character, not so much." -Maddy

"The author keeps you in the circle of the story.' -Shaylyn

"Not too shabby. A lot of interesting aspects, but it didn't blow my mind or anything. I will read the next book to see where it goes." -Chloé

"An interesting retelling with many love interests and monsters." -Lauren

"Anna may have been dull, but the setting was enticing." -Sabrina

"While the character development leaves something to be desired, Blood Rose Rebellion is set in an unconventional time and location. The journey of the main character from Victorian England to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was interesting. I was not a fan of the bland main character, but the author somewhat makes up for it with a richly depicted, lush world and fascinating political structures. Think Marxism with magic, told through the eyes of a very boring lady and you've got it." -Emily

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (Discussed February 16, 2017)
Cover image for Dreamland BurningWhen seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present.
Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns. 

"An awesome commentary on historical and present day racial bias', with a mystery to boot." -Katie

"You have a voice, use it." -Alexandra

"This novel will help you realize that our reality may not be the 'Dreamland' you think it is." -Lauren

"A very well-written books which shows the parallels of institutionalized racism form the 1920s to current time." -Shaylyn

"A great book to learn about lesser known historical event that more people should know about." -Callie

"A mystery set through time that will keep you guessing." -Emma

"An amazing read comparing racism from 100 years ago to today." -Maddy

"A unique murder mystery that also brings forth the truth of the past and present when it comes to the history of the United States." -Stephanie

"The duel POV guides the story along to show the cruel reality of today." -Sabrina

"This books is well-structured and well-written, and maybe most importantly, relevant, especially in lieu of America's political climate and the effect it's had on the rest of the world." -Chloé

"A fascinating novel that links the past to the future. Dreamland Burning centres on the racism of the past and connects it with modern events in Southern USA. Latham not only offers an exciting story with interesting themes, but also teaches valuable lessons about racism and prejudice in a unique and effective way." -Emilly

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (Discussed January 19, 2017)
Cover image for Edge of EverythingIt's been a shattering year for Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods - only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X. X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, each begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.

"The Edge of Everything will keep you on the edge of your seats." -Maddy

"Very interesting 'set up' of the story in the first chapter. Overall, the book is very X-citing." -Shaylyn

"A very fast-paced love story with just a bit of the supernatural." -Callie

"With badass characters and an original plot, it's a good one-time read. Warning: Contains insta-love." -Lauren

"A fantastic dark fantasy love story without a triangle." -Katie

"I liked this book overall, but it felt too focused on the romantic plot, and didn't talk enough about the weird supernatural stuff (which I wanted to know more about). So, if you enjoy intense stories about teen romances with a supernatural/fantasy subplot and great comedic moments, I'd recommend this to you." -Chloé

Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly (Discussed November 24, 2016)
Now that the infuriating Philip Digby has left town for a lead on his sister who disappeared years ago, Zoe Webster is looking forward to a quiet spring semester. She's dating a cute quarterback, hanging out with new friends, and enjoying being "a normal." Which is of course when Digby comes back. Zoe can either choose to stay on her current path toward popularity, perfect SAT scores, and Princeton, or she can take a major detour with Digby, and maybe find out what that kiss he stole from her really meant. Digby and his over-the-top schemes always lead somewhere unexpected and Zoe's beginning to learn she might just like jumping into the unknown. When it comes to Digby, the choice might already be made.

"A well-written comedic and mysterious novel with an intriguing, apathetic undertone." -Shaylyn

"Well-paced, funny, and entertaining. It's like Sherlock and Watson, but as hormonal teenagers." -Chloé

"Trouble makes a comeback, and there is lots of trouble." -Callie

"Think Sherlock Holmes, but with typical high school drama." -Maddy

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (Discussed October 27, 2016)
Cover image for Darkly Beating HeartNo one knows how to handle Reiko. She is full of hatred; all she can think about is how to best hurt herself and those people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko's parents send her to spend the summer with family in Japan, hoping she will learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping backward in time into the nineteenth-century life of Miyu, a young woman even more vengeful than Reiko herself. Reiko loves escaping into Miyu's life... until she discovers Kuramagi's dark secret and must face down Miyu's demons as well as her own.

"Edo era Japan mixed with modern day crazy." -Ola

"A haunting story of revenge." -Katie

"Filled with hatred and revenge, A Darkly Beating Heart makes you consider how far you'll go to seek vengeance and get what you want." -Lauren

"A rocky time travel experience through modern and old time Japan." -Shaylyn

"It was good." -Emma

"A very creative way to showcase two different, but similar people's lives." -Callie

"A Darkly Beating Heart will take you through a twist in time." -Alex

"A different book with a twisted ending." -Maddy

Replica by Lauren Oliver (Discussed September 22, 2016)
Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida. Behind the locked doors and military guards, Haven is actually a research facility where thousands of replicas are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. After she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven Institute. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

"No other HUMAN could REPLICATE this book." -Shaylyn

"This is a great book that you will want to read every way you can." -Callie

"This book will keep you guessing." -Emma

"Replica is full of unique, beautiful, sharp-edged characters. Just reading about them tosses you into another world." -Bethel

"A great book filled with twists and turns." -Maddy

"You just can't replicate a book like this." -Ola

The Graces by Laure Eve (Discussed August 25, 2016)
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. But what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident. After all, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it... no matter who has to pay.

"Sometimes the villain isn't always who you think it is..." -Stephanie

"2 spooky 4 me." -Ola

"With each new revelation, you begin to question just how thin the line between normal and supernatural is."  

"'You killed my love!' Dramatic much?" -Bethel 

"The Graces will leave you questioning until the very end." -Maddy

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye (Discussed May 19, 2016)
With the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening the Russian border, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death. Raised on the tiny Ovchinin Island, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

More articles from