Monday, April 3, 2017

It's been a long winter, and we're all happy to be celebrating the beginning of spring. Here are the reads that saw us through the end of the heavy gray season:


This month I finished off my reread of the Harry Potter series, completing Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows. I also read The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron and Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, which was my favorite. Loved the beautiful language and the spookiness and the tender friendships.


With a young baby at home, there isn't a lot of time for reading, but I'm trying! Recently I've read a couple memoirs -- WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi, and THE LATE BLOOMER'S REVOLUTION by Amy Cohen -- and before that, I finally got to meet Kaz, Inej, Nina, and the rest of the gang in SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo. Can't wait to spend more time with them in CROOKED KINGDOM.


This month, I've been walking around with several books in my ANNA, LOLA, ISLA tote bag that I'm teaching (and reading) to 11-15 year-olds: THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, HOLES, ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY, SKELLIG, THE WEIGHT OF WATER and the play AN INSPECTOR CALLS. All of these were new reads for me and really interesting to experience along with the students. But the just-for-me reads were THE HATE U GIVE, CRONGTON KNIGHTS, WE COME APART and currently falling in deep, deep love with STRANGE THE DREAMER.


Well, house renovations have been sucking up a lot of my free time lately, but I've managed to squeeze in a few audio books: IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo, THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay, and EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon. This last one was my favorite because it's a total page-turner, the premise felt fresh and different, and the protagonist was incredibly likable.


Fun fact: I designed the original cover for The Sea of Tranquility, before it got picked up by an imprint of Simon & Schuster!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In keeping with our yearly tradition, we took some time to reflect on the books we read during 2016 and picked a few of our faves. These are the books that punched hard, stuck with us, and left us wrecked (in the best possible way). 


In no particular order...

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig - An #ownvoices debut full of adventure, beauty, and heart.

THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater - An exciting ending to a truly magical series.

THE COST OF ALL THINGS by Maggie Lehrman - A thoughtful exploration of memory, forgiveness, and consequences.



1. AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White is my top pick this year. Clever, beautiful language, characters to root for, killer world-building. I wish I'd written it!

2. AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton. I'm not familiar with many of the Sci-Fi author references, but this whole book feels like a secret. This Book! I tell you...this book.

3. A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas. I'm not one to follow the (popular) crowd, but this one made me feeeeeel so much. Addicting, sweeping, fun. Can't go wrong.

Honourable mentions (because reasons): ARCHIVIST WASP by Nicole Kornher-Stace is unforgettable. I still think of this story all the time. It's in my bones. INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold was the first book I read this year and not many have topped it!


1. I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson - These characters! Oh, these tortured characters. Every last one is seared into my heart. Guh!

2. STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr - I've never wanted to rescue a character so badly until I met Deanna. The tension between her and her dad... Just. Heartbreaking.

3. FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell - Such a great, realistic love story between two extremely likable characters. Took me right back to my college days. This book has so much brilliance packed into it. Love, love it.

A few others I reeeaally liked: THE TYRANT'S DAUGHTER by J.C. Carleson, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, WHEN WE COLLIDED by Emery Lord and ON THE FENCE by Kasie West.


THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA by Tony DiTerlizzi - Beautiful Middle Grade Science Fiction with great friendships and rich world building. Can't wait to read the other books!

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani - I loved how this book explored the gray areas between good and evil, loved the friendships that formed, and how it incorporated classic fairytales into the story.

CRESS by Marissa Meyer - I read the entire series this year, but this book was my favorite, Cress was definitely my favorite character.

Also loved THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen, THE SHADOWS by Jacqueline West, NIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman, THE NETHERGRIM by Matthew Jobin, and THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir.


That's it for us! What books did you love this year? 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


This month, I read Starflight by Melissa Landers, The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, and Cress and Winter by Marissa Meyer. My favorite was Cress, and Starflight was a close second. Cress reminded me a little of Disney's version of Rapunzel in Tangled, and I love how her story was incorporated into this world.


UMMMMMMM. I read this great book called "Baby's First Library, ABC" like ninety billion times. Does that mean it's my favorite by default? :P

(Note of explanation: I'm solo babysitting my 19 month old niece for almost 2 weeks.)

For a more grown-up answer, haha, the truth is that I'm slowly making my way through THE COST OF ALL THINGS by Maggie Lehrman, and I'm loving it. (Slow because of aforementioned niece, not because of the book at all.) Really great character work, and a fun, messy premise about magic and wishes and the price we pay for getting what we think we want.


June was a crazy-busy month for me, but I somehow managed to read two and a half books! (Primarily because two of them were audiobooks that I could absorb while driving children to various daily activities :) The first book was a re-read of JUST LISTEN. I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan, and this is one of my SD faves. I also listened to IN BETWEEN by Jenny B. Jones. This story was delightful--full of humor and tender family moments. And Katie Parker, the sweet, spunky protagonist of this novel, stole my heart on page one. Currently, I am halfway through THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore. So far, I love her lyrical writing and the unique setting/storyline.  


This month I read AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and ONE by Sarah Crossan, which has (deservingly) already won two big awards this year. I absolutely adore novels in verse, and while ONE is brilliant, I'm still hung up on her earlier work THE WEIGHT OF WATER. That book! Anyway, at the moment I'm in the middle of AND I DARKEN and whew, man, you want this. Kiersten White's storytelling has grown with each book I've read and I do believe she's found her sweet spot.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two years ago, a group of book bloggers got together with a simple, powerful mission:

Mindfully seek out diverse YA literature to read, discuss, and highlight.

We named ourselves the YA Diversity Book Club -- simple and straightforward -- and we've had such a great time finding new books to chat about each month.

To celebrate our 2-year anniversary, we would like to encourage others to read diversely too. So we're doing a 3-book giveaway, of forthcoming books from authors whose work we have featured and enjoyed in the past. We each chose one of the books personally. Here's mine -- the sequel to AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, which captivated me:

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2) A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

To learn more about the other books in the giveaway, please visit The Reading Date and Teen Lit Rocks!

To enter the giveaway, see below:

Enter to win three YA Fall 2016 preorder books
Prizes provided by the YADBC
Giveaway open to US residents age 13 and up
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter

Now the YADBC will be taking a summer hiatus, but you can always check out the past 2 years of YA Diversity Book Club posts on Tumblr!

* * * * *

On a personal note: I will be taking a step back from YADBC, due to a big responsibility coming in a little package this November. I will forever and always read diversely, though! I hope you will too.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The first official day of summer is just right around the corner, and depending on where you live, the hot sun is already turning your shoulders red. There's something extra magical about reading during the summer. It's the time of library reading lists and having crushes at summer camp, of graduations and new beginnings, of vacations and hanging out on the beach with a good book. Here are a few stories that captured us and still remind us of a summer in our lives:


One of my favorite memories of reading during the summer was when I graduated from high school. As a graduation present, my aunt invited me to come stay with her in Arizona for a month. It was the first time I'd been away from home for more than a week. On the weekends, we camped, went to outdoor markets, and hiked in national parks. During the week, my aunt worked, and I had her condo to myself. I would spend the entire day reading and writing, and it was magnificent. The book that stood out to me most, that always takes me back to that summer when I think about it, was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It's about growing up and discovering yourself and traveling, and that's exactly what I was doing.


Between my junior and senior years of college, I spent a summer abroad in Madrid, Spain. There were a million magical things about those 8 weeks -- the classes, the beaches, the history, the buildings, the markets, the trains -- but one of my favorite things was actually just sitting in the gardens outside the Palacio Real and reading my homework assignments. Novels completely in Spanish. I had to keep a Spanish-English dictionary with me to look up unfamiliar words. I was being immersed in a culture, and a body of literature, that were foreign to me. I was, as Stephanie said, growing up and discovering myself and traveling.


Being the type to have summer camp crushes, let's talk (gothic) Romance. Confession: I didn't read JANE EYRE until two months shy of seventeen. Don't get me wrong, up to that point I'd read all of Austen, most of Dickens, every drop of Shakespeare (apart from the "histories.") British classics were my jam. But never had a Bronte brushed across the wild moors of my adolescent mind. And it was a blind accident that I plucked this one from a friend's shelf on my way to my brother's wedding.

The long and short of it is that my brother was getting married to my best friend (yeah that was a thing that happened.) It was an outdoor ceremony and they'd arranged everything themselves. The evening before, it was my job to keep watch over the stacks of chairs delivered by the rental company. We were in a public park so anyone could come along and steal some chairs or make chair art or knock the stacks over like chair-jenga. The chairs were in serious danger, okay?  I climbed to the top, took a Bronte with me, and was transported. to. misery. Sweet, haunted, repressed, mist-strewn misery. I was utterly ruined by this book. Of course, I only got to chapter thirteen before the stack of chairs had to come down. So I read one-handed while unfolding white wedding chairs in neat rows of ten (that's a lie, I can't remember how many chairs were in each row. I was distracted by delicious scandal and Yorkshire landscapes.) As it happens, I finished the book that night and took Jane and Rochester with me the next day as I brides-maided my way around the (gorgeous) wedding. And wondered if I'd ever be anybody's first wife.


The first book that pops into my mind is WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith. I read it a few summers ago while on a camping trip (and blogged about it here.). Though the story has its share of tough issues, the lyrical writing and "wild child" storyline definitely stirred up those good-time summer feelings. Long bike rides, young love, music and mayhem... what's not to love?
Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Lately I've been catching up on books that I've been meaning to read for a long time (years in some cases). In May, I read Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I think my favorite was Ruin and Rising. I've been working on that series for such a long time, I can't believe it's over.


For the past couple of months I've been reading outside my normal genre of contemporary YA. I've read a few memoirs (We Were Brothers, A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me, Tweaked), a light fantasy (The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness), and I'm almost finished listening to the audio version of The Graveyard Book, read by Neil Gaiman himself. My hands-down favorite is The Graveyard Book-- such a great escape into the world of the dead. Plus, Gaiman's voice--both figurative and literal--is riveting.

Wow, Ingrid is reading up a storm!! I'm kind of jealous, haha.

Unfortunately I don't have as many books to choose from, but even if I did, I think my answers would stay the same. My favorite recent read has been THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater, the emotional conclusion to her Raven Boys series. It wasn't perfect, but I still loved the book and the series dearly and deeply.

I'm also slowly working my way through ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, which is just a really special novel told in very brief chapters that are almost like prose poem vignettes or something.


In May, I read MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE, THE WINNER'S KISS, THE RAVEN KING!!!!!!!!!, FIVE FLAVOURS OF DUMB, A COURT OF MIST AND FURY, and re-read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES straight after. I keep starting and stopping books like NOGGIN, CARRY ON, PASSENGER, NIGHTBIRD, COUNTING THYME so I'll give them another go next month because the writing is fantastic. I just haven't been in the mood for one reason or another. I am so hung up on romantic fantasy. Perfect example is my current re-read THE SIN-EATER'S DAUGHTER. Really clever story, decent world-building and characters you don't mind spending time with. Need the sequel!

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about us

Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.




on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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