Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Genre: Realistic Fiction

A 2013 Americas Book Award Commended Title

A 2013 ALA Notable Book for Children

I’m going to divide my review into two sections – one without spoilers, one with – because I can’t really say what I want to say without giving the end away.

No spoilers:

This book has been winning awards left and right and the author just won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, which is pretty prestigious. I know  it’s getting a lot of attention because it’s a young adult book about homosexuality – the only YA novel I know of that has this as a main plot point, although there are others? probably? just not as prominent? – but that kind of cheapens it. That’s the great part about it – it’s a book about discovering/coming to terms with being gay (yourself or a loved one) but it’s a complete story that’s about a lot of other things too. That’s just one of its topics, just like in life. Gay people are not one dimensional, and neither are these characters or this story. (I apologize if my language in this review is imprecise. I know some people say being gay is something they always know, while others have to discover it as they mature.) Continue reading »


Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

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Genre: Realistic/historical fiction

A 2012 Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Honor Book

Jasper Jones was one of those books I wanted to start recommending before I had finished reading. This is what young adult fiction should be.

Jasper Jones is the store of Charlie, a teenage boy growing up in a small Australian mining town in the 1960s (of particular interest to me as my sister currently lives in a small, rural Australian mining town). When the town delinquent, Jasper Jones, shows up at his window one night, Charlie makes the pivotal choice to follow him, and as a result becomes caught up in…well, a lot. A town scandal/mystery. A personal and moral crisis. A search for justice on many levels. The solution to the book’s mystery won’t leave anyone reeling, but by the end, everything has come together so gracefully it feels satisfactory. The writing is beautiful, descriptive and readable. Continue reading »


Fuse by Julianna Baggott

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image_126Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Dystopian

Sequel to Pure

Spoilers for Pure may be contained.

The story starts right where it left off, with Pressia, Bradwell and El Capitan working together at OSR and Partridge and Lyda with the Mothers. Before long, Partridge is headed back into the Dome, leaving the others behind to deal with the Dome’s newest threats and try frantically to decipher the information contained in the black box they acquired in the last book. Continue reading »


The Kill Order by James Dashner

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The following review contains spoilers for the Maze Runner series.

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian

The Kill Order is the fourth book in the Maze Runner series and a prequel to The Maze Runner itself. It could be read without reading the other books but I think there are slights spoilers just in the prologue.

The Kill Order takes place 13 years before The Maze Runner began. It tells the story of Mark, a teenage boy living through the aftermath of the sun flares (a phenomenon we found out about in The Scorch Trials, the second books in the series) which ravaged the earth.  When Mark and his friends are attacked by people wielding the darts laced with The Flare (a virus we also learned about in The Scorch Trials), they begin a quest to confront those who are behind the attacks. The story also tells in flashback about Mark’s experience surviving the flares. Continue reading »


Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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Genre: Fantasy

I recently reread Graceling in preparation for reading its sequel, Bitterblue. It’s still one of my favorite young adult books.

Graceling takes place in a fictional kingdom in which certain individuals have “graces” – a grace being a special ability of some sort. Heroine Katsa has such a grace – she is graced with a talent for killing. Forced to act as a tool for her uncle, the king, Katsa acts out behind his back as part of a council she has formed to bring justice to the kingdom – and those kingdoms around her – with the help of friends and allies. Continue reading »