Category Archives: Young Adult

Fiction traditionally written for ages ranging from twelve years up to the age of eighteen. The terms young-adult novel, juvenile novel, young-adult book, etc. refer to the works in the YA category. The vast majority of YA stories portray an adolescent, rather than an adult or child, as the protagonist. Includes stories about the challenges of youth or coming-of-age novels. Age-wise this is a step beyong traditional Teen Fiction and may include adult themes not suitable for some teens.

The Book of Deacon by Lallo

bookofdeaconOrphaned, homeless, and alone, Myranda is a young woman who is just trying to stay alive. The Perpetual War has been raging across the land for years now, and Myranda is one of the few people who sees the constant bloodshed as a waste of life. Her views make her unpopular, and she is forced to wander from town to town seeking shelter. Her life is completely changed, however, when she finds a dead soldier in the frozen wastes and ultimately takes his place in a prophecy that might just save the world.

The Book of Deacon
The Book of Deacon #1
Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
March 18, 2012

Before diving too deep into this book, it should be noted that this is the first in a trilogy. However, unlike a traditional trilogy, the books aren’t self contained stories. Instead, the narrative in the first two books simply drops off and is immediately picked up in the sequels. This makes it a bit difficult to get a clear picture of the overall story from just one book.

As for the characters, themselves, they’re rather poorly designed. Myranda is hopelessly passive and spends the majority of the book being tossed from plot point to plot point. The fact that she has all the personality and bearing of a sack of grain makes her a poor protagonist. She isn’t so much a part of the story as the story happens to her.

Leo/Lain might as well have truly been two completely different characters as his entire nature changes halfway through the first book. We aren’t really given an explanation for his sudden shift in personality, except that the story seemed to call for it.

The rest of the characters randomly appear and disappear, all for the sake of moving the scenes along. Their personalities are little more than archetypes to the point that they might as well have been named like the seven dwarfs in Snow White (Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, etc.).

And then the book ends. Where we’re going and why we’re going there is never really explained beyond a few vague references to a prophecy. The story does pick up and improve as we move to the second and third book, but it still has a tendency to drag.

If you’re looking for something fantasy based that is light, fluffy, and doesn’t require too much thought, the book isn’t too bad. But if you’re not willing to read through all three books to get the whole picture, I’d advise you not to even start.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

The Woodcutter by Danley

woodcutterThe Woodcutter is a man of legend. He is the keeper of peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie. So when a young woman is killed under mysterious circumstances, it is up to the Woodcutter to discover the cause. However, a dark new force is moving through the Twelve Kingdoms, and the stories of legend are changing. Magic, itself, has been perverted, and a war between the Realm of the Faerie and the Twelve Kingdoms is imminent. All that stands in its way is the Woodcutter.

The Woodcutter
Kate Danley
November 6, 2012

Imagine every fairy tale you’ve ever read. And not the modern versions that are all about happy endings, but the dark, original tales where men and women were maimed, blinded, and killed. Then roll them all together into one story, a fairy tale that combines them all, and you might come close to describing The Woodcutter.

The entire story is written in the same, almost lyrical style of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which was initially a bit off-putting for me. But once I became accustomed to the writing, I barely noticed it, as I was completely enraptured by the story.

Despite the book drawing heavily on famous tales like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood, the story itself is wholly original. The ease with which the writing slips between and combines these classics is amazing.

But even if the book hadn’t drawn on these time-honored tales, the core story would still strike me as belonging with those favored classics. Honestly, I loved how intricate the writing was.

The Woodcutter is definitely going into my list of favorites, and I encourage anyone who loves those old fairy tales to read this book.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Abhorsen by Nix

Abhorsen2Concluding the Abhorsen Trilogy and picking up where Lirael left off, Abhorsen details the final battle between our heroes and Orannis, the Destroyer. With an evil necromancer and a Greater Dead manipulating Nicholas Sayre, the problem of Orannis’s resurrection has been solved by an unlikely fusion of magic and science. To make matters worse, the current Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are no where to be found. Lirael and Sameth must stop the Destroyer and save Nicholas, but neither are experienced enough to carry out such a monumental task. But if the Destroyer awakens, all their lives will be lost.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #3
by Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

Abhorsen brings the events of Lirael into fresh light and finally reveals the truth behind Lirael’s past, Sameth’s skills, and the origins of the Disreputable Dog and Mogget.

Much of the history of the Old Kingdom is explained, and we learn just how this strange and complex world was originally created. Of course some mysteries still abound, but answers to the larger questions are finally revealed.

Nix skillfully ties together the various threads of plot, and brings the story to a satisfying climax in which good and evil, life and death, and creation and destruction must battle to win. Of course no victory is assured without sacrifice, and Nix does well to draw the reader in with the promise that not all of our heroes may survive.

Looking back over both Lirael and Abhorsen, a lot of information and quite a few events are thrown at the reader. By the time I got to Abhorsen, I found myself in need of a refresher, having long forgotten some of the smaller details and side characters presented in Lirael.

With that in mind, I would strongly recommend anyone interested in the later story to at least start off with Sabriel as a way of easing into the more complex landscape of Lirael and Abhorsen. As far as good fantasy books with a touch of darkness go, I definitely recommend all three books.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Lirael by Nix

liraelpbFourteen years have passed since the events of Sabriel, but all is not well in the Old Kingdom. In the second book of The Abhorsen Trilogy, we are introduced to Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr. However, unlike most Clayr with their dark skin, blond hair, and light eyes, Lirael is pale to almost white and her hair and eyes are black. Even more troubling is that Lirael has never once shown any sign of possessing the Sight, the ability to see into the possible futures and the birthright of the Clayr. But Lirael may be more than she imagines, and her life among the Clayr may soon be coming to an end. Something more terrible than the Greater Dead is coming and Lirael’s unique heritage may make her the only one able to stop it.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #2
Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

As is the case I find with the second book of many trilogies, Lirael doesn’t have a true ending. Instead it suddenly cuts off and is picked back up in the third and final book, Abhorsen.

The content of Lirael is much more in depth, however, and we are introduced to a host of new characters and dynamics. Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget all return, but they are no longer the central characters. Instead we meet Sabriel’s children, Ellimere and Sameth (although not much focus is given to Ellimere), as well as Sameth’s friend from Ancelstierre, Nicholas Sayre.

Part one focuses mainly on Lirael and her adventures with The Disreputable Dog, whereas part two switches to Prince Sameth, who struggles with his title of Abhorsen-in-waiting and the knowledge that he must one day take over for his mother.

Part three, brings Lirael and Sameth together, but ends with Nicholas missing and a terrible, ancient force threatening to be released.

Since much of the book is effectively just build up and only half of the whole story, it’s hard to really judge the book or its content. Nevertheless, I will say that the book did a wonderful job of immersing me back into the world of the Old Kingdom. Divided into three parts, each sub-story has it’s own mini-plot and challenges, while slowly introducing us to the characters.

The pacing is quite a bit slower than in Sabriel, but the story is just as captivating. It’s definitely worth a look.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Sabriel by Nix

sabriel_coverSabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a man tasked with ensuring the dead stay dead and are not left free to feast on the living. But Sabriel has been going to school in the non-magical land of Ancelstierre, where magic doesn’t exist and few believe such a thing even exists. However when her father goes missing, Sabriel must travel past the Border into the Old Kingdom and take up the title of Abhorsen for herself. The Greater Dead are stirring and something very old is threatening to break free past the gates that separate Life from Death.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #1
Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

The story of Sabriel is a very simple one, yet Nix weaves a very complex world of ancient magic and necromancy. The author doesn’t waste time with history or back story, and instead dives head first into the action. What little we do learn about the magic, necromancy, and the Old Kingdom is slowly pieced together through information spread out through the story.

Yet Nix’s easy going pace and simple prose doesn’t require the reader to understand more than the basic of concepts. At it’s heart, this is really a story about a young woman growing up, experiencing love, and finding her place in a confusing and troubled world.

If I had one complaint about Sabriel, it is that there wasn’t more. While Nix’s approach is sure to make the reading more palatable for those not wishing to be bogged down with the finer details, I found myself utterly swept away by this amazing and complex world. But the author expertly slips us only a taste of the Old Kingdom’s history and never tells us more that we absolutely need to know.

Fortunately, Sabriel is only the first in the Abhorsen trilogy. The book stands alone quite well, however, and even those not interested in continuing to the sequels are sure to enjoy this remarkable tale.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Destiny Binds by Tammy Blackwell

Scout Donovan’s world has just been turned upside down.  Her calm Kentucky life is no more, and she’s been thrust into the world of Shifters and Seers without warning.  And it started with a boy.

Destiny Binds
by Tammy Blackwell
Createspace Independent
March 2011

Scout is entering her Senior year when Alex Cole saunters into her AP Calculus class at Lake County High School.  Having run across Alex and his older brother the day before, Scout isn’t in any mood to deal with the cute new guy.

When Alex tries to get closer to Scout, she does her best to push him away.  And that works…temporarily.

A few months later, Alex and Scout are teamed together on a writing assignment, much to the chagrin of  her bother Jase and lifelong friend Charlie.   The more time they spend together, the more she likes him, and the less her brother and Charlie seem to resemble to easy-going guys they used to be.   Scout asks questions,for which she never receives answers.

And then, on a school trip, Scout gets an answer that she wasn’t expecting.   The class gets stuck in Nashville during a trip to watch The Taming of the Shrew.   It’s that night that changes everything, because Alex changes…into a wolf.

As their relationship deepens, Scout begins to learn more and more about shifter dynamics and surprises are around every corner.

As the story continues, Tammy Blackwell takes you deeper and deeper into the world of The Timberwolves.  You learn about their culture and their hierarchies in a story that builds their world without the drudgery that exists in the debut novels for some writers.

Blackwell’s writing is amazing.  It is apparent that she has experience with the age group about whom she is writing.  Scout is witty and snarky, exactly what you’d expect from a girl her age.  She is in turn experienced and naive, never sounding like she’s just a vehicle for an adult voice.

Blackwell is also adept at building the environment in her story as well.  Even if you aren’t a Kentucky native (as I am), she easily transports you to the state.  You feel as though you are an active particpant in her story, not just an observer.

Strong characters and a strong story leave the reader wanting more; luckily, this is the start of a series that has been written and for which there will be further installments.   This novel lands solidly on the repeat read list.

Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at and has generously supplied this review. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

Unlike most of my review books, Destiny Binds was purchased by me and was not provided as a review copy.  It’s that good. 

UnEmbraceable by Precarious Yates

Leonardo, a godly man, is with friends ministering to people on the street when he sees Tamar, a prostitute, and the thought that crosses his mind is that she will be his wife.

Precarious Yates
Self Published
June 2013

UnEmbraceable by Precarious Yates brings to mind the story of Hosea and Gomer found in the Bible in the first chapter of Hosea. Leonardo is a computer programmer with a salary that allows him to have the best of all materials things and he also donates a large sum of money to a charity every month.. He is suffering from guilt because of the death of his twin sister for he was driving recklessly at the time of the accident. He and friends are on the streets ministering to people about God when he meets Tamar. The first thought that runs through his mind when he sees Tamar is that she will be his wife. There is a new drug on the streets and when there is an earthquake, the ozone from the quake combined with the drug turns the kids who take it into growling, biting, scratching, and dangerous individuals. Leonardo seems to have a God given gift for with just words he can calm violent people and this saves the day several times when a group of teenagers start to attack people around them. Tamar has had a very terrible upbringing being forced into prostitution when she was only eleven years old and she feels as if no one in the world cares for her. Now as an adult she is prostituting herself and picking pockets to provide for herself. Tamar also notices Leonardo but tells herself that a godly man like him would never care for a woman like her.

This was an excellent story but it was also somewhat depressing. The author did a great job of bringing all the characters to life and had me cheering for some and feeling fear of others. All the action that took place in the book was vividly portrayed and I felt every rumble of the earthquakes. Descriptions of Leonardo’s and Tamar’s escape from different places when an earthquake would hit had me holding my breath and covering my eyes for the scenes felt so real. There were several times when Leonardo spoke to the demons in the teenagers or an angel appeared that I stopped and wondered if that could really happen. Then I felt ashamed of myself for being a Christian I know that such things can happen if God wills it and it makes me wonder what great things we could accomplish as Christians if we would only believe enough. I said the story was depressing but it was also scary for so many things in the fictional story are already happening in this country and around the world. The story did have a happy ending.

I recommend this book to all who enjoy a great Christian story that makes you think and also makes you want to live a better life.

Deanna Love Gottreu is a 74 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at

This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

The 5th Wave by Yancy

The 5th Wave by Robert Yancy is a summer blockbuster type YA novel. It is the book to put in the hands of teens this summer, especially fans of dystopian and alien attack stories. The dystopian genre which is the new in genre at the moment is full of clones of the novel that started the craze. (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) With so many wannabes out there what sets this book apart? For me it was the alien attack scenario.

The 5th Wave
By Robert Yancy
Putnam Juvenile
May 2013

Most YA dystopian books like The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch or Divergent by Veronica Roth take place with a society that has blown itself up. This time the collapse was caused by an alien invasion. After four waves of the attack The 5th Wave starts with the final phase of the attack. The humans don’t know who to trust and desperately need to find safety in numbers.

When Cassie (our heroine) watches her brother Sammy bussed off to safety, she knows she must stay alone to stay alive but do anything she can to find her brother. Desperate and alone she begins her quest.

There were many things about this book that I really liked. I liked the action, fast pace, and the fact that the romance did not overpower the action. I was not crazy about the multiple narrative style. It took time to adjust to this style of multiple narrators and figure out who was telling the story.

Overall, I would say that this is still a good book to put in the hands of Avid readers as the multiple narrators and at times slow pace will discourage reluctant readers. This is definitely a book for fans of Divergent and The Darkest Minds.

Patrick Tierney is a school librarian in an elementary school in Providence. Reading is his passion. He loves reading new books and sharing with his students. Getting a good book into the hands of someone and seeing them excited to read is what he lives for. He posts reviews of new and interesting Children’s and YA books at his blog.

This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Doll Bones by Black

Doll Bones by Holly Black is a spooky ghost story. This is the type of book that I think kids will be clamoring for.

Doll Bones
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry Books
May 2013

Holly Black writes with a style that creates a spooky atmosphere. The story is that three children Polly, Zach and Alice are all best friends. They have been playing a make believe game with figures and dolls for years. When it seems like the game might end forever, the trio embark on a quest, one last game. Polly says she had a vision of a ghost possessing the doll they had dubbed the Queen. Now they are on a quest to bury her with her family.

This book is aimed at the upper elementary level ( grades 4 and up). As far as ghost stories goes this book is good for that level. It is spooky but not extremely scary. I think that the story is more interesting than the typical Goosebumps book. This book differs from a Goosebumps book because it is well written. The characters are developed and you care about all of them. None of the three main characters seem like cardboard cutouts. I would recommend it to very imaginative children between grades 4 and 6 because they would appreciate the game that the characters play.

I rate this book 5 stars for being a spooky well written ghost story.

Patrick Tierney is a school librarian in an elementary school in Providence. Reading is his passion. He loves reading new books and sharing with his students. Getting a good book into the hands of someone and seeing them excited to read is what he lives for. He posts reviews of new and interesting Children’s and YA books at his blog.

This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Louder than Words by Plissner

This is a story of an underage high schooler who learns to speak again after a terrible tragedy through intense physical contact. Read: sexual acts.

Louder than Words
by Laurie Plissner
Merit Press
December 2012

The young lady loses her whole family in a car accident, loses her memory and loses the ability to speak. A young man who can actually read her thoughts comes along and wins her heart and in the end her ability to speak back for her. Along the way, she also learns about the truth of the accident.

This isn’t your normal love story. This is smut with under age characters.


This is not a book for teens. Not only does it have violence (Sasha is saved from imminent sexual assault), and massive quantities of cussing (including all the way up to many, many F words), but also includes explicit sexual activities up to and including oral sex. In the end, she learns to speak BECAUSE of the sex. This is an awkward chapter of the current sex-solves-everything book fad, along with the 50 Shades series, Twilight’s non-stop lust-a-thon in books 3 and 4 and so on. Sex is so degraded by the way it is inappropriately lifted up that readers can’t possibly be satisfied with real world love. When you find that sex is abusive, like in 50 shades, or doesn’t heal all wounds, like in this book, you are left more empty than before.

This book is smut. Teens should not read it because the violence, language and sexuality is inappropriate for their age and adults should not read it because reading about two under age lovers is also inappropriate.

This is the second book I’ve read from Merit Press and it’s clear to me that they are interested in pushing the boundaries of books about children and teens. The language, sexuality, and violence in the books they publish are simply unexplainable. I recommend you keep your teens (and yourself) far away from this publisher.

Arieltopia, Young Adult Editor, is an 12 year old avid reader – usually going through a book a day – who gives readers a unique perspective on Young Adult, Teen Fiction, along with adult fiction: an actual teenager’s perspective.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.