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January 19, 2021 | Caroline Few

What to Read: YA Edition

What are your winter reads? Teen volunteer Caroline has volunteered some reviews of YA books available in the library and through the Libby and Hoopla Apps. If you are looking for some great YA reads for winter, these Young Adult (and some Adult/Crossover fiction) books might be just the cozy escape you need!

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro


A Study in Charlotte is the first book in a YA mystery series following the descendants of Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless Sherlock Holmes saga. Jamie Watson finds himself and his destined counterpart, Charlotte Holmes, framed for the murder of one of their classmates at Sherringford Prep. We follow both Jamie and Charlotte as they try and solve the murder themselves while also being the top suspects of the police. I thought this book was nice; our main characters were perfect opposites of each other and mimicked the behavior of their famous ancestors. My main problem with this book was the pacing. At some points, the story moves very fast and we are consuming new information very quickly, but at other times, we are left with long strings of unmoving plot that moved very slowly. Overall, it was a short, enjoyable read that is very easy to get wrapped up in.

Librarian note: Young Adult novel

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson


Truly Devious is the first book in another YA mystery series following Stevie, a young and brightly intelligent girl who has just been accepted into the prestigious Ellingham Academy. Stevie is there to study crime, and her project is to solve the murder/kidnapping case that happened at the school in the 30s. This book was absolutely phenomenal. The setting is eerie and atmospheric, perfectly describing the ambiance of this school that is cloaked in mystery. The characters are extremely well-crafted, being so different from one another with various distinct interests and personalities. There was the perfect balance of romance, humor, and suspense while simultaneously being drenched with beautiful and descriptive writing. I found myself immediately reaching for the next book in the series. I would highly recommend that you pick this book up.

Librarian note: Young Adult novel

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans


The Office of Historical Corrections is a novella and short story collection that tackles the themes of race and U.S. history through various stories rooted in reality. This is the first short story collection I have ever read, and while I learned that I much prefer long-form stories, I was still able to enjoy and learn a lot from this collection. I found that the stories got better as the book went on, with each one being better than the last. Some of the stand-out stories for me were “Boys Go to Jupiter”, “Anything Could Disappear”, and“Why Won’t Women Just Say What They Want”, which was my absolute favorite. I was able to take a lot of important lessons and information from these stories and would recommend that you pick it up as well.

Librarian note: This collection of short stories is considered Adult Fiction.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Great Gatsby is a classic published in the 20s that describes the lives of various well-off characters living in New York and the relationships that form between them. We follow Nick Carraway, our objective and unbiased narrator, as he describes the lives of Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan mainly. This was a classic that I had to read for school, and I’m so glad I did because I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. The writing was very fluid and easy to understand, despite what I would’ve expected from a classic. The story also is very timeless; the themes of the American Dream, love and loss, social norms and stereotypes, and various others are still very prevalent today. If you are wanting to get into classics, this is a great book to start with.

Librarian note: This classic title can be found in both the Adult and Young Adult sections at our library.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


We Were Liars is a YA suspense novel following our main character, Cadence, as she tries to piece together the mystery surrounding an accident that happened at her family’s private vacation island that she can’t seem to remember. This book was hauntingly beautiful. The writing style was very mysterious and will have you asking questions. The pacing of this book was extremely fast; I was able to finish this book in under 24 hours because I could not put it down. This book also has an infamous plot twist that completely turns the story on its head and explains the plot with something you wouldn’t have thought of before. The only issue that I had

was the characters. It was very hard to care and sympathize with them in the very short amount of time that we are reading about them. Overall, this is a great short and quick-paced group that will leave you feeling emotional.

Librarian note: Young Adult Novel

A Blade So Black (The Nightmare-Verse #1) by L.L. McKinney


A Blade So Black is the first book in a YA fantasy series that reimagines the story of Alice in Wonderland. We follow Alice as she tackles the job of fighting and expelling Nightmares (monsters that have been created through the accumulation of human fears) in the dream realm before they cross over into the conscious world. I am very glad I picked this book up. I instantly fell in love with the characters and was hooked on the mysterious and whimsical nature of the dream world, Wonderland. There is quite a large cast that you get introduced to over the course of the novel and I found each of them to be very distinct from each other with very different personalities, which I enjoyed. The pacing was a bit all over the place, but I was able to overlook that because of the characters and setting. I would highly recommend this series, as the third and potentially last book in the series comes out later this year.

Librarian note: Young Adult novel.