Young Adult Book Recommendations

I know the holidays are almost here, but if you’re still shopping (or just looking for some good books to read) here are the favourite Young Adult books my local writers and I read this year.

(Click to see our Middle Grade and Picture Book recommendations).


Internment  by: Samira Ahmed, Little Books for Young Readers, 2019.

(from Google Books:) Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.


Rules for Vanishing by: Kate Alice Marshall, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2019.

(from Goodreads:)  In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs. Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons.



Here There Are Monsters by: Amelinda Berube, Sourcebooks Inc, 2019.

(from Google Books:) Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. And moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over as someone different.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming Skye’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home


Five Feet Apart by: Rachael Lippincott, Simon & Schuster, 2018.

(from Google Books:) Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Sadie by: Courtney Summers, Wednesday Books, 2018.

(from Goodreads:)  Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.


Cuckoo Song by: Frances Hardinge, Pan MacMillan, 2014.

(from Goodreads:) The first things to shift were the doll’s eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss’s face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak. ‘Who do you think you are? This is my family.’

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; she keeps waking up with leaves in her hair, and her sister seems terrified of her. When it all gets too much and she starts to cry, her tears are like cobwebs…

Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late…


We Hunt the Flame by: Hafsah Faizel, Pan MacMillan, 2019

(from Goodreads:) People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Nobody knows that Zafira is the Hunter. Forced to disguise herself as a man, she braves the cursed forest to feed her people. If she is exposed as a girl, all of her achievements will be rejected.

Nasir is the infamous Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If he refuses he will be punished in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya – but neither wants to be. And when Zafira embarks on a quest to restore magic to her suffering world, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve magic and kill the hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds, and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine . . .




Middle Grade Book Recommendations

As promised, here is the list of middle grade books recommended by my local writer friends at our last get-together. Whether you use them as gift ideas or writing research, I hope you find this post useful.

(If you missed my previous post of Picture Book recommendations, check it out here.)

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods  by: Rick Riordan, Illustrated by: John Rocco, Disney-Hyperion, 2014

(from Google Books:) Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is a collection of short stories about Greek mythology as narrated by Percy Jackson. It was written by Rick Riordan and was released on August 19, 2014. It features Percy Jackson giving his own take on the Greek myths in a humorous way.


Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by: Rick Riordan, Illustrated by: John Rocco, Disney-Hyperion, 2015

(from Google Books:) IF YOU LIKE POISONINGS, BETRAYALS, MUTILATIONS, MURDERS AND FLESH-EATING FARMYARD ANIMALS, KEEP READING . . .In this gripping follow-up to Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods, demigod Percy Jackson tells the stories of twelve of the original Greek heroes in all their gory, bloodthirsty glory.


Lily’s Mountain by: Hannah Moderow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

(from Google Books:) Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.


Small Spaces by: Katherine Arden, Penguin Young Readers, 2019

(from Google Books:) After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie who only finds solace in books discovers a chilling ghost story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man”–a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Captivated by the tale, Ollie begins to wonder if the smiling man might be real when she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about on a school trip to a nearby farm. Then, later, when her school bus breaks down on the ride home, the strange bus driver tells Ollie and her classmates: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed these warnings. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

This Was Our Pact (Graphic Novel) by: Ryan Andrews, First Second, 2019

(from Goodreads:) It’s the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they’ll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they’ve made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.


The Simple Art of Flying by: Cory Leonardo, Aladdin, 2019

(From Goodreads:) Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground…

Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.

In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

The Witch’s Boy by: Kelly Barnhill, Algonquin Young Readers, 2014.

(from Goodreads:)  When Ned and his identical twin brother Tam tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by: Kelly Barnhill, Algonquin Young Readers, 2016.

(from Goodreads:) Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.


In the Shadow of the Sun by: Anne Sibley O’Brien, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017.

(from Goodreads:) North Korea is known as the most repressive country on Earth, with a dictatorial leader, a starving population, and harsh punishment for rebellion.

Not the best place for a family vacation.

Yet that’s exactly where Mia Andrews finds herself, on a tour with her aid-worker father and fractious older brother, Simon. Mia was adopted from South Korea as a baby, and the trip raises tough questions about where she really belongs. Then her dad is arrested for spying, just as forbidden photographs of North Korean slave-labor camps fall into Mia’s hands. The only way to save Dad: get the pictures out of the country. Thus Mia and Simon set off on a harrowing journey to the border, without food, money, or shelter, in a land where anyone who sees them might turn them in, and getting caught could mean prison — or worse.


And, of course, since it’s my blog, and there’s always room for shameless self-promotion:


Fun With Frosting: A Beginner’s Guide to Decorating Creative, Fondant-Free Cakes (Non-Fiction) by: K. Callard, Skyhorse Publishing, 2016.

(from K. Callard:)  A how-to cake decorating book for beginner bakers of all ages. Featuring baking, levelling, filling, assembling, and frosting tips and techniques, as well as instructions for 40 creative designs that use regular bakeware (no specialty pans required), this book will help you create the perfect cake for any birthday kid or kid at heart.




December Check-In

*Checks calendar*


*Rubs eyes*

*Checks calendar again*

Yup, we’re really in the last month of the year. Huh.

November was another rough month for me, writing-wise thanks to migraines and fibro pain.

I *did* try out a new motivational method – setting a countdown timer and typing until it buzzed (and often a little while after), varying the time depending on how my body was feeling. Of course there were still a few days when I couldn’t work at all, but at least I got a little bit done most days.

I’m a little afraid of how next month is going to go, headache-wise, since we discovered this month that I’m allergic to the shots I’ve been getting for migraines. That means I’ll be trying out new meds to see if there’s anything that can control the pain without incapacitating me with their side effects.

But that’s Future Kaye’s problem.

For now, I’ve been using my non-writing time to work on getting ready for the holidays – shopping, crafting, etc. Between the possibility of a school strike looming and my fluctuating health, I’m trying to be ready well in advance this year, just in case.

Beyond that, I’ve been listening to audiobooks, as always trying to figure out what makes a good story.

November Reading Stats:

  • MG Fantasy (1)
  • YA Mystery (1)
  • Adult Mystery (22)
  • Adult Sci-Fi (1)
  • Re-reads (2)

November Total: 25 (+ 2 Re-reads)

Year-to-Date Total: 227 (+27 Re-Reads)