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Eliza May Brown

I've read a bunch of Young Adult books lately. There are so many to choose from!

Review method--totally subjective and my personal opinion.

Five Stars are for life-altering books that I think you should keep and read again and again.

Four Stars are for great books.

Three Stars are for good books.

All of the above I recommend reading. You will very rarely see me give a review of One Star (awful) or Two Stars (not worth reading) because I usually don't finish books that I don't think are awful and/or not worth reading. Sadly, sometimes, I do get tricked into wasting my time.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko **** (Four Stars) 2004

Set in 1935 San Francisco, a family struggles to protect and care for their disabled daughter in a time of very limited knowledge and options. The story is told from her teen brother's point-of-view. He's torn between wanting to be a "normal" boy, to protect his sister, and his own teen angst. And then they move to the island of Alcatraz. This is a terrific story, written by a contemporary writer who has her own autistic family member, so she has a unique insight.

Almost by Anne Eliot ***** (Five Stars)

Young Adult

I've got a confession: this book sat on my shelf for awhile. The back cover reads "dark and scary" and I don't read dark and scary. But I was wrong; this is a story of hope and healing, of fresh starts and new possibilities. It's a beautiful, touching story. There's a link to her website on my "Other Authors" page. Check it out!  

Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris *** (Three Stars)

Young Adult

This first book in the series has a lot of good stuff--a murder mystery, lots of conflict, romance, and the typical teen angst. It's definitely worth reading, and I read it cover-to-cover. Milda Harris is a young lady with huge potential. I hope she keeps working to hone her craft.  

BeSwitched by Molly Snow *** (Three Stars)

Young Adult Fantasy

I do seem to be reading a lot of YA lately, don't I? They're just so much fun. This story has such a wonderful premise--a witch's black cat switches bodies with a teen girl--that I really hoped for magic. This writer obviously has a lot of talent athe writing really needs polishing. She should work with a good editor. Still, the story was so good that I read the whole thing.

Girls by Tucker Shaw **** (Four Stars)

Young Adult

This delightful story about friends, relationships, and growing up is a very good read.

Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson**** (Four Stars)


An old river curse turns bullies into beasts in this magical tale about kids behaving badly. 

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore **** (Four Stars)

Young Adult Fantasy

The early books in this series--and this is the first--are absolutely wonderful reads. Should you start the series even if I don't recommend the later books? Of course! And my sixteen-year-old daughter loved it, too, so your teen just might read a book, too.

Lily's Ghosts by Laura Ruby ***** (Five Stars)

Tween FantasyI loved this story. It had ghosts, a mystery, hidden treasure, and a pirate. How could it miss?

Max: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson **** (Four Stars)Young Adult

I read the entire series about a group of bio-engineered children who were bred and trained to survive the apocalypse. It started really well but became increasingly strange and erratic. This is one of the stranger stories...but it's still worth reading.

The Mediator by Meg Cabot **** (Four Stars)

This three-book series follows the sweet coming-of-age story of a teen who sees ghosts and has to help them cross over. Great stuff!

Minerva Clark... by Karen Karbo **** (Four Stars)

I love everything about this series--the brave young heroine, her crazy family, the setting--everything!

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris ***** (Five Stars)

Young Adult, Fantasy

I bought this book for my young teens (who refuse to read it because of the title--too girly) and I absolutely fell in love with it. It's a magical tale of love and adventure with fairy-tale creatures and an evil queen. Buy this one for the kids but keep it for yourself.

The Phoenix Files by Chris Morphew *** (Three Stars)

This six book series (once you read the first you'll feel compelled to read them all) is about three Australian teens who have one hundred days to save the world from a man-made apocalypse. I thought the final reveal was strange and poorly done, but I'd still recommend the books.

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz **** (Four Stars)

Young Adult

A parent's worst nightmare is that your child will be left alone in the world. When you have to worry that he's going to be recruited by a secret government agency and sent into danger, you might want to rethink your choice of guardian. I'm not a teen boy, but I think teen boys would like this story.

Visser by K. A. Applegate **** (Four Stars)

Urban Fantasy

The Animorphs are not a new series--there was even a Saturday morning TV show a few decades ago. I bought a couple of books for my daughter, then read a few lines while waiting in line. And I was hooked. I was on a quest. I had to have all the books, and it turns out there are about 40 of them. I went to book stores, thrift shops, and eBay and, eventually, read them all. Ironically, none of my kids read any of them. Their loss!