Middle-Grade Review: The Invisible Spy (Forgotten Five #2) by Lisa McMann

January 27th, 2023 by


About This Book:


X-Men meets Spy Kids in the thrilling second installment in The Forgotten Five fantasy/adventure series that began with the instant New York Times bestseller Map of Flames.


The forgotten five have made it to Estero to search for their missing supernatural criminal parents. With the help of their new allies, Lada and The Librarian, they’ve managed to find Birdie and Brix’s mother, Elena, and free her from captivity in the presidential palace. Now the president’s henchmen are searching everywhere for the children who broke out Elena, driving the group into hiding in the ancient underground tunnels beneath the city.

Meanwhile, President Fuerte is making headlines for his nighttime flights to other countries accompanied by an invisible man. But why would the president who outlawed supernaturals be working with the people he supposedly hates? And could it be that some of the five’s own parents are helping him?

The fantasy adventure that began with the New York Times and Indie bestseller Map of Flamescontinues as the five join the fight against the oppression of supernaturals in Estero, face off against an unexpected enemy, and undertake a new mission that will put all of their abilities—and their loyalties—to the test.


*Review Contributed By Jan Farnworth, Staff Reviewer*


Unique Skill Set


What I liked:
Invisible Spy is the second book in the Forgotten Five Series. This one is unique in focusing mainly on our supernatural catalog character and his relationships with his father or nonrelationship. Trapped on an airplane, hoping not to be discovered, unexpected information is revealed about President Fuerte.
Final Verdict:
This action-packed sequel does not hold back on the emotional punches as the forgotten five learn more about their parents and who is aligned with the president. The kids want to believe their parents all left for good reasons, but that gets harder to think about as they learn more about life in Estero. Hard choices are made about who to trust, who to stay with, and why things are playing out the way they are. If you enjoy spy novels that are great for this age group, buckle up for a great story.


*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

What New In YA? January 03, 2023

January 3rd, 2023 by



January 03, 2023


  • Publisher: ‎Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
  • Reading age: ‎14 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎9 and up
Return to the opulent world of Elfhame, filled with intrigue, betrayal, and dangerous desires, with this first book of a captivating new duology from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black. 

A runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both.

Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.

Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world. There, she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years.

Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful, and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she left behind.

  • Publisher: ‎Delacorte Press 
  • Reading age: ‎14 – 17 years
  • Lexile measure: ‎870L
  • Grade level: ‎9 – 12
In a fallen kingdom, one girl carries the key to discovering the secrets of her nation’s past—and unleashing the demons that sleep at its heart. An epic fantasy series inspired by the mythology and folklore of ancient China.

“Perfect for fans of The Untamed. I loved it!” —Shelley Parker-Chan, bestselling author of She Who Became the Sun

Once, Lan had a different name. Now she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and her days scavenging for what she can find of the past. Anything to understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother in her last act before she died.

The mark is mysterious—an untranslatable Hin character—and no one but Lan can see it. Until the night a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life.

Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. Their magic was rumored to have been drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Now it must be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.

When Zen comes across Lan, he recognizes what she is: a practitioner with a powerful ability hidden in the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it—but he knows that if there are answers, they lie deep in the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, with an order of practitioning masters planning to overthrow the Elantian regime.

Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within—secrets they must hide from others, and secrets that they themselves have yet to discover. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world.

Now the battle for the Last Kingdom begins.

  • Publisher: ‎Disney-Hyperion 
  • Reading age: ‎12 – 18 years
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 12
Fate does not choose the weak. Fate chooses the ready.

Illustros is a cursed realm ruled by the ruthless Gods of Fate, and no one understands the Fates’ wrath more than Calliope Rosewood. Blessed with unspeakable powers that terrify even the most dangerous witches and fae, Calla hides her forbidden magic in shame and fear that one wrong touch could send her to her death. With only her two best friends in tow, Calla deserted her coven and has been on the run ever since.

Worse, Calla is concealing an even darker secret: fate has chosen her as the final prophesied Blood Warrior, the being destined to start the Fates’ War, which will decimate her people and eradicate their magic.

After a betrayal from her infuriating ex Ezra leads her one step closer to fulfilling that age-old prophecy, Calla is desperate to do whatever it takes to reset her fate. So when a mysterious and charming witch offers to help Calla do just that, she immediately agrees to his plan. Only catch? That plan includes journeying into the deadly Neverending Forest with Ezra and said witch, who just so happens to be Ezra’s tempting older brother. Torn between her past desires and alluring new possibilities, Calla brings along her best friends to fight what lies ahead.

As the group ventures into the enchanted woods together, they’ll all soon learn that choosing your destiny comes with dire consequences . . . and the Fates are not to be tested. Calla believes the Fates have it out for her, while others believe they have chosen her for a reason. But in the end, Calla will have to fight to forge her own destiny and decide if the risk of choosing herself is worth the possibility of damning everyone else.

  • Publisher: ‎Inkyard Press
  • Reading age: ‎13 – 17 years
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 9
The start of a swoony, high-energy duology that Emily Lloyd-Jones, author of The Bone Houses, calls “reminiscent of classic fairytales yet brimming with a charm all its own.”

“A world of glimmering fae that sparkles with mystery, adventure, and enchantment.” —Andrew Joseph White, New York Times bestselling author of Hell Followed with Us

Iselia “Seelie” Graygrove looks just like her twin, Isolde…but as an autistic changeling left in the human world by the fae as an infant, she has always known she is different. Seelie’s unpredictable magic makes it hard for her to fit in—and draws her and Isolde into the hunt for a fabled treasure. In a heist gone wrong, the sisters make some unexpected allies and find themselves unraveling a mystery that has its roots in the history of humans and fae alike.

Both sisters soon discover that the secrets of the faeries may be more valuable than any pile of gold and jewels. But can Seelie harness her magic in time to protect her sister and herself?

“Housman’s stunning debut is the sort of love letter only an autistic author could write. Fae canon has been waiting for this one.” —H.E. Edgmon, author of The Witch King

  • Publisher: ‎Joy Revolution 
  • Reading age: ‎12 – 17 years
  • Lexile measure: ‎HL720L
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 9
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Brown Sisters trilogy, comes a laugh-out-loud story about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors—and each other.

Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He’s a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine.

Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption—yet, she’s still not cool enough for the popular kids’ table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that’s how Celine sees it.)

These days, there’s nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she’s surprised to find Brad right beside her.

Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?

  • Publisher: ‎Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
  • Reading age: ‎12 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 9
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Pride and Prejudice in this delightful and heartfelt rom-com about a Bangladeshi American teen whose meddling mother arranges a match to secure their family’s financial security—just as she’s falling in love with someone else.

Zahra Khan is basically Bangladeshi royalty, but being a princess doesn’t pay the bills in Paterson, New Jersey. While Zahra’s plans for financial security this summer involve working long hours at Chai Ho and saving up for college writing courses, Amma is convinced that all Zahra needs is a “good match,” Jane Austen style.

Enter Harun Emon, who’s wealthy, devastatingly handsome, and…aloof. As soon as Zahra meets him, she knows it’s a bad match. It’s nothing like the connection she has with Nayim Aktar, the new dishwasher at the tea shop, who just gets Zahra in a way no one has before. So, when Zahra finds out that Harun is just as uninterested in this match as she is, they decide to slowly sabotage their parents’ plans. And for once in Zahra’s life, she can have her rossomalai and eat it too: “dating” Harun and keeping Amma happy while catching real feelings for Nayim.

But life—and boys—can be more complicated than Zahra realizes. With her feelings all mixed up, Zahra discovers that sometimes being a good Bengali kid can be a royal pain.

  • Publisher: ‎Sourcebooks Fire 
  • Reading age: ‎14 – 18 years
  • Grade level: ‎8 – 12

When a secret society has you in their sights, it can lead to power, privilege… or death.

It’s been two weeks since Polly St. James went missing. The police, the headmistress of Torrey-Wells Academy, and even her parents have ruled her a runaway. But not Maren, her best friend and roommate. She knows Polly had a secret that she was about to share with Maren before she disappeared― something to do with the elite, ultra-rich crowd at Torrey-Wells.

Then Maren finds an envelope hidden among Polly’s things: an invitation to the Gamemaster’s Society. Do not tell anyone, it says. Maren is certain her classmates in the Society know the truth about what happened to Polly, though it’s no easy feat to join. Once Maren’s made it through the treacherous initiation, she discovers a world she never knew existed within her school, where Society members compete in high-stakes games for unheard-of rewards―Ivy League connections, privileges, favors.

But Maren’s been drawn into a different game: for every win, she’ll receive a clue about Polly. And as Maren keeps winning, she begins to see just how powerful the Society’s game is―bigger and deadlier than she ever imagined. They see, they know, they control. And they kill.



  • Publisher: ‎HarperTeen 
  • Reading age: ‎13 – 17 years
  • Grade level: ‎8 – 9


Fans of Undead Girl Gang and The Babysitters Coven will love Breakup from Hell, a witty YA rom-com with a supernatural twist, starring horror novel obsessed Mica Angeles, who discovers the guy she fell for comes straight out of one of her beloved books.

Miguela Angeles is tired. Tired of her abuela keeping secrets, especially about her heritage. Tired of her small Vermont town and hanging out at the same places with the same friends she’s known forever. So when another boring Sunday trip to church turns into a run-in with Sam, a mysterious hottie in town on vacation, Mica seizes the opportunity to get closer to him.

It’s not long before she is under Sam’s spell and doing things she’s never done before, like winning all her martial arts sparring matches—and lying to her favorite people. The more time Mica spends with Sam, the more weird things start to happen, too. Like terrifying-visions-of-the-world-ending weird.

Mica’s gut instincts keep telling her something is off, yet Sam is the most exciting guy she’s ever met. But when Mica discovers his family’s roots, she realizes that instead of being in the typical high school relationship, she’s living in a horror novel.

She has to leave Sam, but will ending their relationship also bring an end to everything she knows and everyone she loves?

Clever, hilarious, and steeped in supernatural suspense, Breakup from Hell will keep you hooked until the last page.



  • Publisher: ‎Inkyard Press
  • Reading age: ‎13 – 17 years
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 9


Sweet, snarky, and delightfully dorky.” —Elise Bryant, author of Happily Ever Afters

Cameron Carson has a secret. A secret with the power to break apart his friend group.

Cameron Carson, member of the Geeks and Nerds United (GANU) club, has been secretly hooking up with student council president, cheerleader, theater enthusiast, and all-around queen bee Karla Ortega since the summer. The one problem—what was meant to be a summer fling between coffee shop coworkers has now evolved into a clandestine senior-year entanglement, where Karla isn’t intending on blending their friend groups anytime soon, or at all.

Enter Mackenzie Briggs, who isn’t afraid to be herself or wear her heart on her sleeve. When Cameron finds himself unexpectedly bonding with Mackenzie and repeatedly snubbed in public by Karla, he starts to wonder who he can truly consider a friend and who might have the potential to become more…



  • Publisher: ‎Delacorte Press 
  • Reading age: ‎12 – 17 years
  • Lexile measure: ‎HL720L
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 9


It took all of two paragraphs for me to fall head-over-heels in love with this story. Naive, plucky Margot was perfection, New York City brimmed loud and clear from the pages, and I absolutely adored the love story. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.”Jenna Evans Welch, New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato

A charming, high-energy romance in the city that never sleeps about a girl who can’t wait to be a part of Manhattan’s restaurant scene—and find the boy she fell for last summer. Perfect for fans of Emily in Paris!

Welcome to New York. . . . He’s been waiting for you.

Margot hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Zach, the dreamy American boy she met one magical night in Paris. In an instant, they fell head over heels in love and spent the perfect evening ensemble—sealed with a kiss and a promise: if the universe wants them to be together, fate will find a way.

Flash forward one year later: Margot has finished high school and is newly arrived in New York, ready to roll up her chef’s-coat sleeves in Manhattan’s bustling restaurant scene, celebrate her father’s upcoming wedding . . . and reconnect with Zach.

But a lot can happen in a year, and promises made in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower look different in the neon glow of the Big Apple. Margot spends the summer desperate to find Zach and enlists the help of Ben, the sweet line cook at her restaurant. Margot is convinced she found her soul mate that night in Paris . . . but what if the universe has a different plan?

Anything’s possible in New York City. Especially l’amour, American-style.



  • Publisher: ‎Amulet Books 
  • Reading age: ‎12 – 17 years
  • Grade level: ‎7 and up

A charming YA novel about a family who puts on an immersive, interactive play to save their historical home

Finn lives in a family of theater lovers. His older brothers are both actors, and one of his moms is an actor and the other one is a director. They even live in an enormous historic mansion owned by the Beauregard, Minnesota’s largest regional theater. Finn is desperate to be an actor, too, despite the fact that he can never seem to remember his lines. When a new artistic director threatens to sell the Jorgensen house and kick his family out of the only home he’s ever known, his family puts on a show—an immersive 1890s experience unlike anything else out there. But will it be too much for his mom Lula, who is recovering from cancer? Will Finn connect with his crush and deal with his long-time rival, Jade? Will saving the house save Finn’s acting career? Funny, warm, and full of Victorian hijinks, this is a novel for anyone looking for a place to belong.



  • Publisher: ‎Chicken House 
  • Reading age: ‎12 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 9


This is the story of sixteen-year-old Khadija, who flees her home in a stolen hot air balloon to escape life in an arranged marriage. A deeply relevant, commercial fantasy adventure by an enthralling new talent, exploring prejudice, the deep roots of hatred, and the reality of the world that this heroine hopes to save.


Khadija loves the ancient tales of jinn and renegade princesses… but real life is closing in and her destiny as a ghadæan girl is marriage and boredom. When her father arranges a match, Khadija leaps at the chance of escape – a rogue hot air balloon fighting its ropes for the sky. Soon, Khadija is flying over the desert sands, away from everything she knows.Khadija finds an unlikely ally in a poor young glassmaker’s apprentice, Jacob.

But soon, a deadly revolution threatens their friendship and their world. The oppressed, pale-skinned hāri are restless – their infamous terrorist group, the Hāreef, have a new, fearsome leader. And the ruling ghadæans are brutal in their repression. As the Hāreef exploit forbidden magic – summoning jinn to aid their fight – Jacob and Khadija must choose what kind of a world they want to live in and how to make it a reality.

2022 In Review, Connie Reid, Staff Reviewer’s Top 5 Picks

December 23rd, 2022 by
2022 in Review
The Team at have worked hard all year reading wonderful books and creating insightful reviews to help readers find their next great read. 
The staff has reflected on their top 5 favorite books of 2022.  We hope you are inspired to check out these great books too! Feel free to share your Top 5 books in the comments as well!
Today we are featuring Connie Reid. She is the Site Manager and Staff Reviewer at YABC. 
Here are her Top 5 books of 2022 (In no particular order):
Title: Only a Monster (Book 1) by Vanessa Len
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 22, 2022

About This Book:

The sweeping romance of Passenger meets the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song in this stunning contemporary fantasy debut from Vanessa Len, where the line between monster and hero is razor thin. Don’t forget the rule. No one can know what you are. What we are. You must never tell anyone about monsters. Joan has just learned the truth: her family are monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And the cute boy at work isn’t just a boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to destroy her family. To save herself and her family, Joan will have to do what she fears most: embrace her own monstrousness. Because in this story…she is not the hero. Dive deep into the world of Only a Monster: hidden worlds dwell in the shadows, beautiful monsters with untold powers walk among humans, and secrets are the most powerful weapon of all.


*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

She is not the hero
What I Loved: Only a Monster warned us that Joan was not the hero of this story. She was the monster, yet it was the hero that massacred her whole family. The Oliver family captures her and Nick when they stay late after work at the museum. They looked into her eyes and saw a monster that shouldn’t live. She tries to save her human crush, Nick, who turns out to be the fabled Monster hunter. His people have orchestrated a massacre of all monster families, including hers.
She had tried to save him from the Olivers, so he lets her go with a promise to kill her if she ever uses her powers. With her family dead, how can she not try altering the timeline and try to save them?
She saves Aaron Oliver’s life during the fight. As they hide in 1993, he tries to teach her to be a monster. She meets up with her cousin, Ruth, who survived the massacre and has searched for two years to find her. She should be enemies with Aaron, but feelings emerge as they try to survive being hunted by Nick. Her heart aches for Nick whom she feels a soul-deep love connection that she doesn’t understand.
It is common knowledge among monsters that the timeline will protect itself from interference. Aaron wearily helps her try anyways because every monster goes through the temptation. Then they hear rumors that the Liu family has the power to remember. They have family stories of an alternate timeline. What should be impossible leads them to uncover terrible secrets about how the hero was made into the Monster hunter. Joan is the key to stopping him. They say the timeline will try to repair any anomalies. Joan wonders if that is why Nick and her keep crossing paths. How can they ever be together when her family’s deaths lay at his feet?
What Left Me Wanting More: As events unfold, we learn of a woman in the shadows whose intentions are terrible. The reason she orchestrated these events is unknown. I also want more about Aaron at the end and to find out the trouble in his past.
Final Verdict: The ending was gripping and heart-wrenching. It was terribly perfect, yet I hope there is a sequel and this is not how she has to live her life now. It is easy to forget who the monster in the story truly is. It was unique and hard to put down from beginning to end.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*


Title: Furysong (The Aurelian Cycle, Book 3) by Rosaria Munda
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 9, 2022

About This Book:

In this explosive conclusion to the epic trilogy that began with Fireborne, Annie and Lee are fighting for their lives—and for each other—as invading dragonfire threatens to burn their home to the ground.


A new revolution is underway, and nobody will emerge unscathed.

In New Pythos, Griff is facing an execution by the dragonborn, who are furious at his betrayal. He has allies on both sides seeking to defy his fate, but the price of his freedom might come at a dear cost. And Delo will have to make a choice: follow his family, or finally surrender to his conscience.

Meanwhile, Annie must race home to hatch a plan to save her Guardians and their dragons. With Callipolis on the brink of collapse and the triarchy set to be reinstated, she may be the one person who can save the city—if she can overcome her own doubts about her future.

Lee is a revolutionary at heart, but now he’ll have to find a way to fight with diplomacy. Going up against the dragonborn court and a foreign princess, he faces a test of loyalty that sets his head against his heart.

As the fate of Callipolis darkens, Annie and Lee must determine what they are willing to sacrifice in order to save each other, defeat their enemies, and reclaim their home.


*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

Audiobook or Print, the book is Amazing!
What I Liked: Rosaria Munda delivers an intensely engaging third and final book to the Fireborne trilogy. This world is so richly detailed and the characters well developed that it is hard not to be sucked into this fantasy world and worry about these characters’ plight as you would dear friends. I thought (erroneously) that if I listened to the audiobook while carrying out other tasks my heart wouldn’t hurt so much for these characters’ trials and tribulations. However, the voice cast does an amazing job bringing this story to life and probably made me even more emotionally invested.
The bond between dragon and rider is richly established and helped me to remember that it is indeed a fictional world and the characters have a decent chance of surviving. My heart ached so intensely for the strife separating Annie and Lee as well as Griff and Delos. Over the course of the series, they have all become dear characters with solid backgrounds. With each book, we have added the perspective of a character and it was nice that this one added Delos’ perspective.
The political situation in Callipolis and New Pythos was thought-provoking. There were good and bad points about the revolutionary government. It is up to our characters to uphold the good and fix the bad after the glaring differences in the counter-coup. Griff’s change in status and in attitude to Delos was very surprising although grief can change a person. I did want to shake him a few times though.
What Left Me Wanting More: Annie and Lee’s tricky plan to resolve things left me scratching my head a bit. I am not sure that I agree that was the best way to resolve the dilemma they faced. It did guarantee to be quite a tearjerker because it led to several poignant deaths that I didn’t expect. There was a surprise reveal of the life of a character that I also questioned. If his dragon plummeted to his death upon feeling his riders fall then how is he alive from a height so grave and now important to this plot’s resolution? That was a plot point that didn’t feel as smooth in an otherwise tightly woven narrative.
Final Verdict: The cover instantly drew me to this series. Dragons are always a bonus when done well. It is a rare thing that speaks volumes about how much I liked this series I went from the library copy to the bookstore to buy the first two books to go with the review copy of the third book that YAbookscentral received. I highly recommend this book to all who love deeply emotional books that feature dragons, fantasy, and political drama with an undercurrent of profound love and friendship.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*


Title: The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games, Book 3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 30, 2022

About This Book:

Avery’s fortune, life, and loves are on the line in the game that everyone will be talking about.


To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake—and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning.


*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

She is the Shield and Sacrifice, A VERY RISKY GAMBLE
What I Loved: It was wonderful to return to the world Jennifer Lynn Barnes paints of Avery Kylie Grambs and the Hawthorne family in the mysterious Hawthorne estate. Avery is just weeks from living a year in Hawthorne House and gaining full access to the astronomical amount of money left to her by Tobias Hawthorne. However, a disturbing number of changes and job offers are afoot in any organization that has a connection to the Hawthornes. This unseen maneuvering undermines the power the Hawthornes have in protecting Avery and the estate.
Then Eve shows up at the estate with news that her father, Toby has been kidnapped. This leads Avery and the brothers down a dark riddle to uncover the man who taught the original Tobias Hawthorne everything he knows about strategy and riddles. This was a much darker addition to the series as they uncover the past and all the wrongful deeds Tobias was involved in to become the rich and powerful person that raised the boys.
They finally learn why Avery was put on the board. There were reasons before that were all good but she is the shield and sacrifice to protect his family from this man lurking in the shadows with more power and reach than even Tobias Hawthorne had. From beyond the grave, Tobias Hawthorne has set up a final riddle for Avery to solve to warn and guide her in her slim chance of winning this final gambit. Avery’s greatest asset is that she is young and female and therefore underestimated by old men who only think of her as a little girl.
Grayson finally reaches his breaking point with his guilt over Emily’s death. Avery is there to help him hold on. Jameson struggles to establish a relationship with Avery where they enjoy being partners in the game but don’t use each other as pawns. Alexander meets his father and learns the part Tobias played in keeping a father away that wanted him.
Final Verdict: This book delivers all the mystery and cleverness established in the previous books. The stakes are higher and the characters have never seemed more human with their struggles. This is a more mature story reflecting how Avery has changed from a wide-eyed girl to the smart strategist that is Tobias’ “very risky gamble” that can save his family once he can’t. Avery makes some very big decisions about what to do with the fate of her wealth. After reading the book I took some time to think about what would I have done in her place if I had the wealth that she does. This book and that question would make an excellent book club discussion.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*


Title: All Of Our Demise (All of us Villains, Book 2) by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 30, 2022

About This Book:

All of Our Demise is the epic conclusion to Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman’s New York Times bestselling All of Us Villains duology.


“I feel like I should warn you: this is going to be absolutely brutal.”

For the first time in this ancient, bloodstained story, the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city of Ilvernath and the arena have fallen. Reporters swarm the historic battlegrounds. A dead boy now lives again. And a new champion has entered the fray, one who seeks to break the curse for good… no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process.

As the curse teeters closer and closer to collapse, the surviving champions each face a choice: dismantle the tournament piece by piece, or fight to the death as this story was always intended.

Long-held alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale as wicked as this one was never destined for happily ever after.

The All of Us Villains Duology:
#1) All of Us Villains
#2) All of Our Demise


*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

Suspenseful conclusion
What I Liked: This second part of the duology was so suspenseful! This is one that will captivate you and keep you turning pages until you know if everyone will survive the end of the curse. With alliances and reasons changing, it is hard to predict which side the characters will continue to be on.
In the last book, Isobel and Alistair were the couple I was rooting for as a romantic interest. However, their equal actions to hurt each other take them each in unexpected directions. Once I wiped away tears of disappointment, I did like how their conflict was resolved.
So many things happened because of Reid McTavish’s interference in the last book. It was satisfying to see him get dragged into the terms of the curse and have a powerful stake in helping it end with them alive.
With the curse being dismantled through traditional and untraditional actions, it starts to act in unpredictable ways. For the first time, the shield keeping the participants confined to the killing grounds is broken and now the townspeople, media, government, and families can all interfere and make it even harder to seek a resolution where our characters might survive.
Final Verdict: This story is sure to be one of the must-read books this year. It has action, suspense, and unpredictability. The characters show a lot of growth as they try and seek the best solution amidst a lot of challenges. It is so interesting to know intellectually that if they worked all together it would go faster and be easier to get a good outcome. Yet, the setting and personal interactions are so well done that it is completely understandable that it doesn’t become the easy solution for our characters to navigate through.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*


Title: Seasparrow (Graceling Realm, book 5)by Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 1, 2022

About This Book:

Make the harrowing journey home with Queen Bitterblue’s sister and spy, in the fifth novel in the bestselling Graceling Realm series.

Hava sails across the sea toward Monsea with her sister, the royal entourage, and the world’s only copies of the formulas for the zilfium weapon she saved at the end of Winterkeep. During the crossing, Hava makes an unexpected discovery about one of the ship’s crew, but before she can unravel the mystery, storms drive their ship off course, wrecking them in the ice far north of the Royal Continent. The survivors must endure a harrowing trek across the ice to make it back to Monsea. And while Queen Bitterblue grapples with how to carry the responsibility of a weapon that will change the world, Hava has a few more mysteries to solve—and a decision to make about who she wants to be in the new world Bitterblue will build.


*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

Fabulous Continuation of the Series!
What I Liked: This fifth book in the Graceling Realm series starts seven weeks after the events in Winterkeep, where we came to know a little about Queen Bitterblue’s half-sister, Hava. We know that Hava’s grace is the ability to blend into her surroundings and that came in handy growing up when her mother kept her existence a secret from everyone, including her sadistic father, King Leck. He killed her mother when she was eight years old and she led an existence fending for herself until Bitterblue learned of her and welcomed her into her life as her spy and secret sister.
Hava is a fascinating personality that is both innocent and extremely knowledgeable of the depravities the world offers. Staying hidden means she has spied her whole life on others interacting and living while never learning how to do it herself. Now at twenty-one years old and living in a confined space where people see her, she is slowly starting to learn who she is. Most don’t know her background so they don’t understand her reactions which makes her a magnet to them.
Her socially awkward encounters with the other crew are endearing and make this chunky book hard to put down. She has never had a friend before and getting a nickname from the captain, having the crew take her interest seriously and teach her about running the ship, and engaging her in the conversation has her constantly questioning their motives and their intent. Then there is Linny. He is kind to her and after a while, she realizes she thinks he is handsome. They have a slow friendship and he gives her the space and time she needs to learn how to open up and trust him. The parts where they are interacting were always the parts I couldn’t put down.
Much of this book takes place in Hava’s head as she is growing and learning about how she feels and thinks about her surroundings. The ship wrecks in the polar north and the book becomes a story of survival. She is now part of a close-knit unit that is always together and must trust and rely on each other to survive. The situation is challenging and will stretch everyone to the edges of their endurance mentally, physically, and emotionally. For a person like Hava who only knows the outlines of other people’s lives, having them next to her and every action exposed makes her thrust into humanity in a very visceral way. Being in Hava’s head as the reader allows us a front-row seat in seeing her mature and her edges filled in from a periphery character in Bitterblue’s story to her own unique person.
The role the blue foxes filled in the story at first seems a fun and whimsical decision. However, the plot keeps coming back to Hope and her babies. In a very real way, the babies allow the others to endure their northern ordeal because they bring joy and the responsibility to survive in a desperate landscape. They bring the senses to life as I can picture how their coats smelled unwashed as they bundled the un potty-trained babies in their coats for weeks. It allowed Hava to show her growing maturity to share the care of the kits and her empathy with others when she knew care of the kits would help others endure their pain. Then there is the subplot of why Hope was stolen and their work to unravel her past self that was engrossing.
I enjoyed that the story didn’t end with their emergence into civilization. We were with Hava every step of the way and could appreciate her difficulty as her group starts splitting apart. Her feelings of being overwhelmed when she is seen by everyone and the world isn’t just stark white and cold but colors and noise. How she returns to her life so changed that she needs to explore how to be back at the castle. Hava is like a caterpillar that is emerging from her cocoon of trauma to learn how to be an adult.
Final Verdict: I could keep going on how much I enjoyed the book. However, I think it is really telling that I read this 602-page book in 24 hours. Hava evolved from a periphery character to a fully fleshed person that now takes up residence in a corner of my heart. This book took the time and care for us to see her evolution and it was wonderful.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*



We would like to take a moment to thank all the wonderful authors, publishers, and publicists out there that have so graciously sent these books to our review staff. We would also like to thank all of our YABC community members who visit our site each day. 

Kids Review: Santa Mouse Bakes Christmas Cookies (A Santa Mouse Book) (Michael Brown)

December 22nd, 2022 by

About This Book:

Santa Mouse becomes Santa’s littlest helper…in the kitchen! Join Santa Mouse and the elves at the North Pole as they bake Christmas cookies in a sweet holiday tale.

When Santa Mouse wakes to the delicious aroma of cookies on Christmas Eve, he finds the elves busy baking for Santa’s big day. Always ready to lend a helping paw, Santa Mouse joins in to bake and decorate a surprising plate of cookies for everyone at the North Pole, including Santa’s hardworking reindeer.

This stocking stuffer–sized board book with a padded cover is the perfect celebration of the classic Christmas cookie tradition.

*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

Tender Christmas Mouse book
The pocket-size board book will be easy for young children to hold as their grown-up reads them this story. The pastel colors and gentle phrasing lend a feeling of tenderness to the story. This book is short as it celebrates aspects of Christmas such as baking yummy cookies. This might lead the young reader to have ideas for holiday baking as well. This is a positive tale that would be a fun read for those who enjoy reading about Christmas.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

2022 in Review: Mark Buxton

December 21st, 2022 by
2022 in Review
The Team at have worked hard all year reading wonderful books and creating insightful reviews to help readers find their next great read. 
The staff has reflected on their top 5 favorite books of 2022.  We hope you are inspired to check out these great books too! Feel free to share your Top 5 books in the comments as well!
Today we are featuring Mark Buxton. He is a Staff Reviewer at YABC. 
Here are his Top 5 books of 2022 (In no particular order):

Title: This Last Adventure by Ryan Dalton

Publishing Date: 2/1/22

About This Book:

When Archie’s beloved grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Archie desperately wants to slow the progression of his grandpa’s memory loss.

Using Grandpa’s old journal entries as inspiration, he creates shared role-playing fantasies with epic quests for them to tackle together―allowing Grandpa to live in the present and stay in touch with his fading memories. But as Grandpa’s condition gradually worsens, Archie must come to terms with what’s happening to his hero. The limits of the fantasies, revelations about Grandpa’s past, and a school project about the future force Archie to grapple with what it truly means to live a life worth remembering.


*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

A special, loving bond spanning generations
What worked:
Illness, injuries, and death are parts of young people’s lives, and this book focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease. Archie looks up to his grandfather and loves him with all his heart, but Archie worries about the times when his grandfather’s memory slips. His grandfather forgets to use Archie’s nickname during their daily greetings, and he doesn’t remember he’s living with Archie and his mom. The author skillfully expresses the frustration, anger, and fear of watching a loved one’s mental capacity slowly deteriorate. He also addresses how the loved one experiences those same emotions to demonstrate how Alzheimer’s affects the entire family. You’ll go through the same range of despair. However, the story leads to a tender, emotional resolution that will bring you to tears.
The characters create subplots that mesh into an overall engaging book. Archie and his best friend Zig work in a school group with Archie’s crush, Desta, and the school’s top jock, Spencer. Zig adds humor to the story, and he’s truly a loyal friend. Desta is pretty, intelligent, and the most popular girl in school, and she’s equally kind to everyone. Archie manages to help the others in his group improve their projects, but he’s frustrated and embarrassed that he can’t think of a career for himself. Becoming an author is the obvious choice, but does it reflect his passion? Maybe there is something more important than asking a seventh-grader what he wants to be when he grows up.
The grandfather has good days, bad days, and really bad days. On the good days, he enjoys time with Fletch, his nickname for Archie, and he offers life lessons to his grandson. He’s kept a journal of happy and sad memories and shares it with Archie. He marks the pages Archie’s allowed to read, and Archie uses those moments to create fantasy adventures with his grandfather to stimulate positive thoughts. However, Archie and readers will wonder about the forbidden pages in the journal. Grandfather is Archie’s hero, so it’s impossible he could have done anything too terrible to share. The truth is revealed in the end and forces Archie to reflect on his expectations of others, and himself.
The final verdict:
A special, loving bond spanning generations. This book shares an emotional roller coaster of adventure, heartbreak, and affection. The curse of Alzheimer’s is a ruthless enemy, but pleasant and passionate memories must not be forgotten. This book will appeal to a wide range of readers, and I highly recommend you add it to your list of must-reads.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*





Title: The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace

Publishing Date: 2/25/22

About This Book:

Matt Wallace, author of Bump, presents a personal, humorous, and body-positive middle grade standalone about a fat kid who wants to stop his bullies . . . and enlists the help of the world’s most infamous supervillain. Perfect for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan, Julie Murphy, and John David Anderson!

Max’s first year of middle school hasn’t been easy. Eighth-grade hotshot Johnny Pro torments Max constantly, for no other reason than Max is fat and an easy target. Max wishes he could fight back, but he doesn’t want to hurt Johnny . . . just make him feel the way Max feels.

In desperation, Max writes to the only person he thinks will understand: imprisoned supervillain Master Plan, a “gentleman of size.” To his surprise, Master Plan wants to help! He suggests a way for Max to get even with Johnny Pro, and change how the other kids at school see them both.

And it works! When Master Plan’s help pays off for Max in ways he couldn’t have imagined, he starts gaining confidence—enough to finally talk to Marina, the girl he likes in class who shares his passion for baking. With Master Plan in his corner, anything seems possible . . . but is there a price to pay for the supervillain’s help?


*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

Advice can be dangerous.
What worked:
Having Max seek advice from a supervillain named Master Plan, or Maximo, is a unique twist for a book about a troubled sixth grader. Max’s two main issues stem from being overweight and consequently being bullied at school. Surprisingly, Master Plan’s emails from prison show compassion for Max’s situation and provide sound suggestions to help him improve his life. Maximo says violence will only make the situation worse, and he shouldn’t expect respect from others unless it’s been earned. Max shouldn’t worry so much about others, and he should do things that make him feel better about himself. Useful advice indeed, but is there an endgame? Cooking is one thing Max enjoys, so the inclusion of a competitive baking show should have an additional appeal for some readers.
The dynamics between Max and his best friend Luca add another dimension to the problem. They are both outcasts, for different reasons, and they stick together for moral support. Luca even jumps in when Max is getting beaten up. However, a question arises as Max’s confidence changes. What will happen to their friendship if Max is perceived as less nerdy? Luca isn’t getting any helpful advice from a master criminal to improve himself, so will he be left behind, alone? Their relationship should be relatable for middle-grade readers, as they go through the emotional and physical changes of puberty.
The setting is in a world where supervillains and superheroes are commonplace. Most people are huge fans of the heroes, but Max views them in a totally different manner. He thinks they’re all self-centered jerks. Heroes swoop in to capture criminals without regard for the destruction of public property, and Max asks his mom about the aftermath. Do the heroes clean up the damage, and do they pay for the repairs? Is anyone hurt or killed when the heroes destroy buildings or smash cars and busses? Max doesn’t think criminals are innocent, but the public ignores the harm done by superheroes in the name of upholding the law. Who does more harm to public safety? It’s an interesting perspective about crime fighters.
What didn’t work as well:
Ok, a supervillain compassionately becoming the voice of reason and good judgment for a troubled sixth grader is hard to accept. His comments encourage Max to see the good in himself, and others will respond more positively as he becomes more confident. The first inkling that things may not be all that they seem is when Max enrolls in self-defense classes with Master Plan’s former “villainy aid” (not his henchman). Master Plan seems able to control people and situations even though he’s in prison. The question in the back of Max’s mind remains, “Why is a supervillain willing to help me?”
The Final Verdict:
Advice can be dangerous. This book is delightfully entertaining as Max learns to improve his self-image. Revenge against the bully will only make things worse, so Master Plan offers a method to change the perceptions of Max’s peers. Some parts of the bully story are stereotypical, but the author includes his own nuances to the book. The book should be enjoyable for all middle-grade readers, and I recommend you give it a shot.


*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*




Title: Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros

Publishing Date: 3/15/22

About This Book:

Isaac and Marco already know sixth grade is going to change their lives. But it won’t change things at home—not without each other’s help.

This year, star basketball player Isaac plans on finally keeping up with his schoolwork. Better grades will surely stop Isaac’s parents from arguing all the time. Meanwhile, straight-A Marco vows on finally winning his father’s approval by earning a spot on the school’s basketball team.

But will their friendship and support for each other be enough to keep the two boys from falling short?


*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

Best Bros Forever
What worked:
Characters misinterpret the apparent self-confidence of others. Marco’s best friend Isaac is an outstanding basketball player, and Marco thinks Isaac fits right in with everyone else at school. However, Isaac struggles with his grades, he almost failed fifth grade, and he thinks he’s the cause of his parents’ impending divorce. He admires how easily Marco has adapted to sixth grade and how quickly he’s able to make friends. He’s unaware that Marco feels like he doesn’t belong with the other students due to his small size. He’s taking honors classes so he’s isolated from his elementary-school friends, and he’s being bullied by eighth-graders. His decision to try out for the middle-school basketball team changes the story for both Isaac and Marco.
The book explores the emotions of middle-grade boys in a way that’s not often done. Marco and Isaac have troubled relationships with their fathers but for different reasons. Marco’s father has divorced, remarried, and is enjoying life with his new son. Marco craves that kind of attention and affection from his father. Isaac’s father wants to spend time with his son, but he has a serious drinking problem. It’s the reason behind the looming divorce even though he keeps promising he’s trying to get better. Isaac is forced to keep secrets, and it takes a near-disaster to initiate any evidence of change. Marco and Isaac share deep feelings with each other, and they aren’t afraid to shed a few tears in the process. Having alternating chapters share their different points of view is a very effective strategy.
The story incorporates Mexican culture, as Spanish vocabulary is used by the parents, some teachers, and others. Readers are able to use context clues to figure out most phrases, and none of the words are critical to understanding what’s going on. The use of Spanish keeps the story feeling authentic and allows the characters to stay true to their heritage. Isaac’s mother and father are referred to as Apa and Apo, and his Abuelita often speaks in Spanish. The Mexican culture doesn’t take over the story, but it’s a big part of the characters’ lives.
What didn’t work as well: The opening doesn’t have a great hook to draw readers in. The boys have issues adapting to sixth grade in a new school (fitting in, bullies, etc.) but nothing makes their situation stand out from other middle-grade books. However, that changes when Marco decides to play basketball, and his determination to succeed is contagious. Readers will not want to miss the emotional journey to make sixth grade successful and memorable for two unlikely best friends.
The Final Verdict:
Best bros forever! The story may not immediately grab readers, but it’s a very entertaining, emotional narrative about two best friends. The feelings and worries of sixth-grade

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*




Title: Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis

Publishing Date: 3/1/22

About This Book:

The Otherworld is at war. The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. And Kelcie Murphy―a foster child raised in the human world―is dying to attend.

A place at AUA means meeting Scáthach, the legendary trainer of Celtic heroes. It means learning to fight with a sword. It means harnessing her hidden powers and―most importantly―finding out who her parents are, and why they abandoned her in Boston Harbor eight years ago.

When Kelcie tests into the school, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.

But Kelcie is a survivor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find her parents and her place in their world. Even if that means making a few enemies.


*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

The Clash between Summer and Winter.
What worked:
The familiarity of the format makes it easy to follow, as Kelcie is whisked away to a secret school and discovers she has rare elemental powers. The students are divided into five houses that don’t always get along. Most classmates fear and mock Kelcie, so she’s an instant outcast. It’s fun to see how authors take this basic premise and modify it to create their own stories. Kelcie’s fianna of four first-years won’t move on to the second year if any one of them fails, so they have an incentive to cooperate. Kelcie’s powers frequently go out of control and put people and property in danger of being destroyed. She needs to muffle her powers instead of practicing to let them grow. Creatures impossibly appear on school grounds, and no one can figure out how they’re doing it. The Lands of Winter and Lands of Summer are in the midst of a never-ending war, and it seems clear the war is finding its way into the academy.
The book presents mysteries to make readers wonder about what’s going on behind the scenes. The plot opens with Kelcie becoming an heir, but the heir of what? She has no idea what happened to her real parents until she receives a broken message from her father. He warns her to leave the academy immediately, return to the human world, and keep running. She decides to stay at the academy. Kelcie hears a voice that sounds vaguely familiar, but she’s not sure what it’s trying to tell her. She keeps secrets from the school and her friends about what’s happening until she’s forced to reveal the truth.
Kelcie’s friends are interesting characters that enhance the plot. Brona is the best at everything and other girls want to become her closest friends. She’s the daughter of a goddess and seems to have everything going for her. However, things are not always as they seem, and Kelcie gets a sense of déjà vu when she’s around Brona. Then there’s Niall. He becomes Kelcie’s friend from the beginning, and everyone else, including his family, doesn’t want him at the academy because having one arm guarantees he’ll fail. The fianna learns to work as a team to help all of them succeed.
What didn’t work as well:
There are a lot of characters from different houses, fiannas, and school staff, and it’s sometimes difficult to remember them all accurately. However, the important thing is to focus on the four members of Kelcie’s fianna and everything else will eventually make sense. The characters aren’t a huge issue so readers should still fully appreciate the exciting adventure.
The final verdict:
The clash between Summer and Winter. The plot follows the successful format of similar novels. Kelcie is a likable underdog, and the teamwork within her fianna creates a positive story of cooperation and trust. The creative twists to the plot will entertain most middle-grade readers, so I recommend you give it a shot.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*



Title: The Mirrorwood by Deva Fagan

Publishing Date: 4/12/22

About This Book:

Fable has been cursed by what the people in her village call the Blight, a twisted enchantment that leaves her without a face of her own. To stay alive, Fable has to steal the faces of others, making her an outcast that no one trusts. When the fierce Blighthunter Vycorax comes to kill Fable to stop her curse from spreading, Fable narrowly escapes by fleeing into the thorny woods surrounding her small village.

The treacherous forest has been ruled by a demon-prince for centuries, a deadly place trapped in time. Fable—and her opinionated feline companion, Moth—is the first to dare enter in a very long time. There, she encounters a tediously chatty skull, dangerously meddlesome deities, and a beast so powerful it tears at the fabric of reality, leaving nothingness in its horrible wake.

Fable will soon discover that, in the Mirrorwood, nothing is quite like the stories say, and the perilous realm may be the only chance she has to break her curse and find her true self.


*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

There must be a balance between pain and peace.
What worked:
The premise of the story is ingenious, as the Mirrorwood’s Blight infects twelve-year-old Fable in a strange manner. She takes on the face of whomever she touches, although she’s learning to control it a little better. Most books might see this as an opportunity for a demented character to steal faces for evil purposes, but this author doesn’t go that route. Blighthunters are searching for and executing the blighted, but Fable is distraught over how she’s forced to borrow the faces and energy of her family in order to stay hidden. The story evolves into Fable’s quest to locate the source of the cursed magic in the Mirrorwood and end the Blight forever.
The quest is complicated as the source of the blight is unclear. Stories told by people outside of the Mirrorwood tell of the king’s son being replaced by a demon prince. This prince’s evil magic corrupts the area surrounding the castle until it’s contained by a wall of thorns. Fable meets a god-like character called Mirachne of the Dawn who tells Fable what happened and how Fable can slay the demon prince. However, Fable meets some other characters who cause her to wonder about the truth behind the curse. Surely, she can trust Mirachne, the Subtle Power known as Mistress of Dreams and Delight, because everybody knows the Bannon is the Subtle Power known for deceit and chaos. Then there’s Fable’s cat called Moth who constantly warns her that the Powers play games with humans and don’t care what happens to them. This uncertainty provides conflict and tension for readers to enjoy.
Fable is accompanied by a young blighthunter named Vycorax, and the opposing girls make an unlikely pair. They each spend much of the story seeking to understand who they are and who they want to be. Vycorax has sworn to be her father’s apprentice as a hunter and is motivated to avenge her sister. However, she’s not a cold-blooded murderer and isn’t able to kill Fable when she has the chance. Fable has never had her own face, so she wonders about her true image. Taking on the looks of others muddles her ability to understand herself, and she questions if she’s truly an evil blightborn as everyone believes. Ending the curse may offer her a chance for self-discovery.
The Final Verdict:
There must be a balance between pain and peace. Self-realization is a theme, as several characters are forced to face the truth about themselves. Their true selves are found under their skin, not in their appearances. Fable’s kindness and selflessness make her an admirable character that allows her to connect with readers. The story is creative and engaging, and I highly recommend you give this book a shot.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*


We would like to take a moment to thank all the wonderful authors, publishers, and publicists out there that have so graciously sent these books to our review staff. We would also like to thank all of our YABC community members who visit our site each day. 

YABC: Festival of Lights GIVEAWAY DAY 4 ~US ONLY

December 4th, 2022 by

Welcome to YABC’s 8th Annual Holiday Giveaway! We’re featuring books perfect for the book lover on your holiday list!–with exciting prize packs every day for the first five days of December.  Giveaways are US only due to publishers’ rights restrictions in other territories. 

Today’s Theme for our Fourth Day of The Festival of Lights Giveaway is Winter and Hannukah brought to you by Candlewick, Pajama Press, Penguin Random House, and MMPublicity!

Thank you for following YABC throughout 2022! It’s been a great year!

Good luck to everyone that enters the giveaways!



Title: Celebrate Hanukkah
Author: Deborah Heiligman
Publisher: National Geographic Kids Books
Release Date: 9/27/16

With dazzling images and engaging text, readers learn about the historical and cultural significance of Hanukkah and why it is celebrated around the world. From the lighting of the menorah to the special foods that are shared to the spinning of the dreidels, they’ll get insights about this holiday’s traditions and the Jewish faith. This book also offers fascinating facts, a recipe, and a Common Core-aligned activities.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit for more information.

Title: Cocoa Magic

Author: Sandra Bradley

Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard

Publisher: Pajama Press

Release Date: 11/8/2022

In a cozy 1920s chocolate shop, the special ingredients
in each perfect treat are empathy, generosity, and thoughtful acts of kindness.

Eight-year-old Daniel cherishes the hour he spends every
morning helping his Great-Uncle Lewis in his chocolate shop. They mix, temper,
pour, and mold. “It’s magic, my boy,” Uncle Lewis says. And Daniel
agrees. When a new girl named Sarah joins his class, Daniel sees how lonely she
is and begins sneaking chocolates into her desk. Seeing Sarah light up after
each treat is wonderful…but then Daniel starts noticing other classmates with
troubles. Soon he is hiding more and more chocolates until the exciting day
when everyone in class receives one, even the teacher! The best part is, no one
knows it’s him.

But then, when Daniel is the one feeling sad and alone, who
will know to comfort him?

In Cocoa Magic, Gabrielle Grimard’s rich and
nostalgic illustrations transport readers to a cozy 1920s chocolate shop and a
stiff brick schoolhouse that somehow learns to be warm as well. In her text and her closing author’s note, clinical
social worker Sandra Bradley celebrates the wonders that happen when someone
meets another person’s need to be seen and understood–even through the smallest
act of kindness.

Buy Now





Title: Diez Maneras De Escuchar La Nieve (Ten Ways to Hear Snow Spanish Edition)

Author: by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Kenard Pak; translated by Rossy Evelin Lima

Publisher: Kokila; Penguin Young Readers

Release Date: 11/8/2022

Buy Now



Title: The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol

Author: Arthur A. Levine

Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: 9/8/2020

From an imaginative team come a new larger-than-life holiday hero who brings Hanukkah wonder and generosity to anyone in need!

Nate Gadol is a great big spirit with eyes as shiny as golden coins and a smile that is lantern bright. He can make anything last as long as it is needed, like a tiny bit of oil that must stretch for eight nights, a flower that needs to stay fresh to cheer up someone ailing, or a small lump of chocolate that grows to allow the Glasers to treat their children over the holiday and, during a harsh winter when medicine is needed more than sweets, spurs them to share what little they have with the O’Malleys. In this charming holiday hybrid story, well-known children’s author and editor Arthur A. Levine pairs with award-winning illustrator Kevin Hawkes to offer a mythical, magical take on the way Jewish families came to give and receive gifts over Hanukkah, just as their Christian neighbors do at Christmas, thanks to a loving spirit named Nate Gadol working behind the scenes–together with a certain jolly old soul.

Buy Now




   One winner will receive a copy of each book featured in DAY 4 of the Festival of Lights Giveaway! ~ (US Only) ~


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*



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Middle-Grade Review: Super Strange Story Starters (Totally Weird Activity Books) by Mark Penta

November 21st, 2022 by


About This Book:


With 22 unique prompts plus colorful illustrations, this creative writing book is ready to go in any direction you want. Each story starter prompt includes space inside to write down and explore ideas of what happens next. There is no wrong way to tell a story, so find inspiration in the artwork details, throw in plot twists, reveal secret desires, make happy endings (or not), introduce new characters. . . the possibilities are endless! 

Part of the Totally Weird Activity Book series created by childhood friends Mark and Ted, Super Strange Story Starters is perfect for aspiring writers, avid readers, and creative kids who have a story to tell.

*Review Contributed By Beth Rodgers, Staff Reviewer”


Getting Started with a Story


Super Strange Story Starters,’ created by illustrator Mark Penta and writer T.M. Murphy, brings more than 20 story starters to readers who are interested in engaging with their writing and exploring new avenues and ideas that will stand out. From stories about magic to others that will reveal what is in a hidden room, on to new and improved pie recipes, a tale of a grave robber, a teenage spy, a legendary lifeguard, a dying woman’s final words, and even the opportunity to draw the story starter illustration for a story about a mirror that doesn’t show anything, there is truly something for everyone.

Any avid writer, or even those who are looking to get into writing but need more ideas and prompts, will find something inside the pages of this book. The best part is that since they are just that—story starters—they can be tweaked to meet the needs of any writer. Certain words or phrases may stand out and make anticipatory writers feel as though they have stumbled across something great that is just what they needed to push through their writer’s block.

There are 22 extra blank pages to write on, but using extra paper to write more or draw additional illustrations is encouraged. The back matter of the book talks about how to create your own story starters, from gathering supplies such as notebooks, computers, pencils, pens, etc. to combining people, places, and things, and then developing characters by asking questions about how they dress, where they live, how they feel, what their dreams are, what they do for work, etc. Considering how to make characters stand out uniquely to learning how to collaborate with others, end stories with cliffhangers, and then edit the work so it’s ready to be put out into the world are all important aspects of the writing and publishing processes.

Good Points
Considering how to make characters stand out uniquely to learning how to collaborate with others, end stories with cliffhangers, and then edit the work so it’s ready to be put out into the world are all important aspects of the writing and publishing processes.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Waiting on Wednesday ~ October 19, 2022

October 19th, 2022 by

Waiting on Wednesday


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


*Olivia’s Choice*

(YABC Staff Reviewer)

The Luminaries

Author: Susan Dennard

Expected Publication Date: Nov 1, 2022

From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.

Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town―and the rest of humanity―from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal―and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.



*Connie’s Choice*

(YABC Site Manager)

Ending Eleven

Author: Jerri Chisholm

Expected Publication Date: 12/6/22

This is where it ends. Victory at all costs in this thrilling conclusion to the Eleven Trilogy by Jerri Chisholm.



*Sara’s Choice*

(YABC Staff Reviewer)

The Great Caper Caper

Author : Josh Funk

Expected Publication Date: 11/15/2022

In the fifth adventure of the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series, our delectable rhyming friends find their home covered in darkness and embark on a Las Veggies heist—perfect for fans of The Food Group series.

When Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast awake one morning to near-darkness, they are aghast. Who would steal the fridge light? And what if the fridge is—gasp—dark all the time? Not to worry. Our trusty heroes are on the case. Will they be able to bring the fridge back to its bright self, or will they have to live in semi-darkness…forever?



What book are you looking forward to in 2022?

Comment the name of the book below!


What’s New In YA? October 18, 2022

October 18th, 2022 by


October 18, 2022


Tell Me No Lies by Andrea Contos


  • Publisher: ‎Scholastic Press 
  • Reading age: ‎14 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎8 – 12


Riverdale meets Gone Girl in a shocking thriller about two sisters whose bond is tested when one girl’s boyfriend goes missing… and her sister is the primary suspect.


Nora and Sophie Linden may be sisters, but they’re not friends. Not since the party last month. Not since the night Sophie’s boyfriend, Garrett, disappeared. Half the town thinks Garrett is dead, the other half believes he ran away, but Sophie knows something no one else does — Garrett left that party with Nora. And straight-A, Ivy-league-bound Nora had never been to a single party before that night.

Then Nora withdraws, barely coming home anymore, right when Sophie starts receiving messages from someone who claims to be Garrett, promising revenge — for what happened to him that night, and for the lies both girls told to the police about it.

With the sisters’ futures — and lives — in jeopardy, they’ll have to decide whether to trust each other again, or risk their secrets leading them to their graves.



Darus’s Story (Tales of Aloseria, #2) by Rita A. Rubin


Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things (Songbird Inn #1) by Maya Prasad


  • Publisher: ‎Disney-Hyperion 
  • Reading age: ‎12 – 18 years
  • Grade level: ‎7 – 12

Four sisters, four seasons, four flavors of romance.

The Singh sisters grew up helping their father navigate the bustle of the Songbird Inn. Nestled on dreamy and drizzly Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, the inn’s always been warm and cozy and filled with interesting guests―the perfect home. But things are about to heat up now that the Songbird has been named the Most Romantic Inn in America.

Nidhi has everything planned out―until a storm brings a wayward tree crashing into her life one autumn . . . and along with it, an intriguing construction worker and a yearning for her motherland. Suddenly, she’s questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Avani can’t sit still. If she does, her grief for Pop, their dad’s late husband, will overwhelm her. So she keeps moving as much as she can, planning an elaborate Winter Ball in Pop’s memory. Until a blizzard traps her in a barn with the boy she accidentally stood up and has been actively avoiding ever since.

Sirisha loves seeing the world through her camera, but her shyness prevents her from stepping out from behind the lens. Talking to girls is such a struggle! When a pretty actress comes to the Songbird with her theater troupe, spring has sprung for Sirisha―if only she can find the words.

Rani is a hopeless romantic through and through. After gently nudging her sisters to open their hearts, she is convinced it’s finally her turn to find love. When two potential suitors float in on a summer breeze, Rani is swept up in grandeur to match her wildest Bollywood dreams. But which boy is the one she’s meant to be with?

Ultimately, the magic of the Songbird Inn leads the tight-knit Singh sisters to new passions and breathtaking kisses―and to unearth the truest versions of themselves.

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this sparkling YA rom-com celebrates sisterhood, family, and the love all around us.



I Was Born for This (I Was Born for This #1) by Alice Oseman


  • Publisher: ‎Scholastic Press 
  • Reading age: ‎14 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎9 – 12


From the bestselling creator of HEARTSTOPPER and LOVELESS, a deeply funny and deeply moving exploration of identity, friendship, and fame.


For Angel Rahimi life is about one thing: The Ark — a boy band that’s taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything she loves — her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world. Her Muslim family doesn’t understand the band’s allure — but Angel feels there are things about her they’ll never understand.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman — and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing, even it only amplifies his anxiety. The fans are very accepting that he’s trans — but they also keep shipping with him with his longtime friend and bandmate, Rowan. But Jimmy and Rowan are just friends — and Rowan has a secret girlfriend the fans can never know about. Dreams don’t always turn out the way you think and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together, they find out how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

A funny, wise, and heartbreakingly true coming of age novel. I Was Born for This is a stunning reflection of modern teenage life, and the power of believing in something — especially yourself.



Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken by Nita Tyndall


  • Publisher: ‎HarperTeen 
  • Reading age: ‎14 – 17 years
  • Grade level: ‎9 – 12


A heartbreaking and bittersweet novel about the need for queer joy even in the midst of the horrors of war. The ending had me in tears.”—Malinda Lo, New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Last Night at the Telegraph Club

For fans of Ruta Sepetys and Malinda Lo, a heart-wrenching queer historical YA romance set in the Swing Youth movement of World War II Berlin

Charlotte Kraus would follow Angelika Haas anywhere. Which is how she finds herself in an underground club one Friday night the summer before World War II, dancing to contraband American jazz and swing music, suddenly feeling that anything might be possible.

Unable to resist the allure of sharing this secret with Geli, Charlie returns to the club again and again, despite the dangers of breaking the Nazi Party’s rules. Soon, terrified by the tightening vise of Hitler’s power, Charlie and the other Swingjugend are drawn to larger and larger acts of rebellion. But the war will test how much they are willing to risk—and to lose.

From the critically acclaimed author of Who I Was with Her, this beautifully told story of hope, love, and resistance will captivate readers of Girl in the Blue Coat and Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove (Rati Mehrotra)

  • Publisher: ‎Wednesday Books 
  • Reading age: ‎14 – 18 years
  • Grade level: ‎10 – 12



In Rati Mehrotra’s YA fantasy novel Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, a young guardswoman struggles with her unwitting role as a major pawn in the deadly games between two kingdoms in a monster-infested alternate medieval India.

Bound to the queen of Chandela by a forbidden soul bond that saved her when she was a child, Katyani has never fallen short of what’s expected of her―becoming the best guardswoman the Garuda has ever seen and an advisor to the crown prince when he ascends to the throne. But when the latest assassination attempt against the royals leaves them with a faceless body and no leads to the perpetrator, Katyani is unwillingly shipped off to guard the Chandela princes in Acharya Mahavir’s esteemed monastic school in Nandovana, a forest where monsters have roamed unchecked for generations.

Katyani wants nothing more than to return to her duties, especially when the Acharya starts asking questions about her past. The only upside of her stay are her run-ins with Daksh, the Acharya’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul. But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested with monsters, Katyani must find the answers to her past so she can save what she loves and forge her own destiny.



Love from Mecca to Medina by S. K. Ali


  • Publisher: ‎Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
  • Reading age: ‎14 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎9 and up

On the trip of a lifetime, Adam and Zayneb must find their way back to each other in this surprising and romantic sequel to the “bighearted, wildly charming” (Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author) Love from A to Z.

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart.

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable.

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?

Road of the Lost by Nafiza Azad


  • Publisher: ‎Margaret K. McElderry Books 
  • Reading age: ‎14 years and up
  • Grade level: ‎9 – 12


Perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince, this gorgeous young adult fantasy follows a girl who discovers she’s spent her life under an enchantment hiding her true identity on her quest into the magical Otherworld to unlock her powers and discover her destiny.

Even the most powerful magic can’t hide a secret forever.

Croi is a brownie, glamoured to be invisible to humans. Her life in the Wilde Forest is ordinary and her magic is weak—until the day that her guardian gives Croi a book about magick from the Otherworld, the world of the Higher Fae. Croi wakes the next morning with something pulling at her core, summoning her to the Otherworld. It’s a spell she cannot control or break.

Forced to leave her home, Croi begins a journey full of surprises…and dangers. For Croi is not a brownie at all but another creature entirely, enchanted to forget her true heritage. As Croi ventures beyond the forest, her brownie glamour begins to shift and change. Who is she really, who is summoning her, and what do they want? Croi will need every ounce of her newfound magic and her courage as she travels a treacherous path to find her true self and the place in the Otherworld where she belongs.




Beneath the Wide Silk Sky Hardcover by Emily Inouye Huey


  • Publisher: ‎Scholastic Press 
  • Reading age: ‎12 years and up
  • Grade level ‏: ‎7 – 9


Stunning, devastating, poignant: Debut author Emily Inouye Huey paints an intimate portrait of the racism faced by America’s Japanese population during WWII. Perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Sharon Cameron.


Sam Sakamoto doesn’t have space in her life for dreams. With the recent death of her mother, Sam’s focus is the farm, which her family will lose if they can’t make one last payment. There’s no time for her secret and unrealistic hope of becoming a photographer, no matter how skilled she’s become. But Sam doesn’t know that an even bigger threat looms on the horizon.


On December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes attack the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. Fury towards Japanese Americans ignites across the country. In Sam’s community in Washington State, the attack gives those who already harbor prejudice an excuse to hate.


As Sam’s family wrestles with intensifying discrimination and even violence, Sam forges a new and unexpected friendship with her neighbor Hiro Tanaka. When he offers Sam a way to resume her photography, she realizes she can document the bigotry around her — if she’s willing to take the risk. When the United States announces that those of Japanese descent will be forced into “relocation camps,” Sam knows she must act or lose her voice forever. She engages in one last battle to leave with her identity — and her family — intact.


Emily Inouye Huey movingly draws inspiration from her own family history to paint an intimate portrait of the lead-up to Japanese incarceration, racism on the World War II homefront, and the relationship between patriotism and protest in this stunningly lyrical debut.

Kid Review: Cinder’s Flame (Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly #7) by Jordan Quinn

October 13th, 2022 by


About This Book:


In the seventh installment of the exciting Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly graphic novel series, Ruskin’s friend Cinder gets cursed!


Cinder has always carried a small spark of envy when it comes to Ruskin. He is, after all, known as the legendary scarlet dragon. And it’s hard to be friends with a legend, as the Witch-Dragon, Villinelle, knows all too well. When Villinelle unleashes the dreaded Soul Blazer spell on Cinder, her small spark of envy grows into an uncontrollable flame. Can Ruskin help his friend, or will Cinder’s fire burn too bright?


*Review Contributed by Lillian McCurry, Staff Reviewer*


A Spark of Jealousy


A dangerous thing is lurking in Cinder and it is up to her friends to save her in this thrilling installment of the Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly. CINDER’S FLAME by Jordan Quinn is the seventh adventure of the series, and this time the little dragons have to save their friend from herself. The story opens on Cinder having a shared nightmare with Ruskin, Groth, and Roke. The witch-dragon Villinelle is trying to warn Cinder and save her from the Dark One’s plan. However, her plans to separate their bond have all failed, and with one final chance, someone lurking in the shadows alters her spell causing Cinder to produce her first flame. Burning hot, Cinder’s previous jealousy fuels her rage, and it is up to her friends to save her if they can.

What I Enjoyed:
I really enjoyed this one. It’s got an exciting plot that keeps the reader engaged in the action. The friendship Ruskin shares with Groth, Cinder, and Roke is at the heart of the story. I love their interactions, how they work together, and how they know something is seriously wrong. They won’t give up on each other and stand by one another even during the hard times, like being cursed by the witch-dragon.

The illustrations are simple, mostly full page with little paneling which is good for newly independent readers. The font is bold and easy to read with well delineated chapters. This will encourage new readers when they see that they can complete the chapter on their own.

The magic for the series is on the light side mostly, however this one does have a darker tone to it. Death and loss are addressed here briefly towards the end of the book which might not be suitable for sensitive readers. Villinelle’s redemption arc is continued here, and it was nice to see how the author showed the reader through her actions that people can change.

Final Thought: CINDER’S FLAME is a thrilling fantasy adventure complete with dragons and magic sure to please younger readers.


*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

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