Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

For more information about YAR, please email Dora Ho at dorah2005@gmail.com


Monday, August 7, 2017

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

General YA Fiction

VG/A. Sundquist, Josh. Love and First Sight. Little, Brown and Company, 2017. 281p. 978-0-316-30535-8. 17.99.


William Porter was born blind, and until recently he went to a school for the blind.  Now, at 16-year-old, Will is determined to go to a mainstream school and be as normal a teenager as possible.  His first few days at school don’t go quite as planned.  He finds himself in a few embarrassing situations: accidentally groping a girl, making another girl cry when he stares at her a bit too long, sitting on someone’s lap at lunch, and mistakenly walking into the girls’ restroom.  Soon things start to look up. Will’s one favorite class is journalism, and he teams up with Cecily (the same girl he made cry) to report on the Van Gogh exhibit at the museum.  Will becomes good friends with Cecily and the other members of the academic quiz team, despite the initial misunderstandings.  He also becomes a candidate for experimental surgery that may give him eyesight, allowing him to see for the first time in his life.  Even with successful surgery, Will has even more hardships ahead of him.  He will actually have to learn how to see.  This is Sundquist’s debut young adult novel, and it is highly recommended.  

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

High School Fiction

G/M. Bergstrom, Scott. The Cruelty. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. 371p. 978-1-250-10818-0. 18.99.


When special agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security show up at her door, Gwendolyn Bloom knows something serious has gone wrong with her dad.  She is shocked to find out that he has gone missing and even more surprised when she discovers his diplomatic job was just a cover.  When the trail for her father grows cold, and the Bureau is no longer is aggressively pursuing his case, Gwendolyn takes it upon herself to go search for him.  With the clues that her father left for her and with help from friends, she leaves New York with little more than a backpack and first travels to Paris, where he was last seen, following clues that take her all across Europe.  Her search plunges her into a world of organized crime, witnessing first-hand the cruelty and brutality of it, and is forced to commit unspeakable acts herself.  This spy action-packed thriller is at times unbelievable, but is overall engrossing. However, with the level of violence in the book, it is recommended for older teens and young adults.  There is a sequel in the works, and the film rights for the book has been optioned by Paramount. Camille Campos, Benjamin Franklin Library, LAPL. 

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

High School Fiction.

G/A. Kincaid, S.J. The Diabolic. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 416p. 978-1-481-47267-8. 17.99.


Feared and reviled, Diabolics were engineered to be super human bodyguards, to bond and to love their masters above all else.  Nemesis is Sidonia’s Diabolic and there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do to protect her charge. Sidonia Impyrean is the daughter of Senator von Impyrean, whose love of science and education has earned him the title of heretic.  When her father is caught disobeying the Emperor’s edicts, Sidonia is demanded as hostage at the Chrysanthemum court.  However, Sidonia’s mother has other plans—she intends for Nemesis to take Sidonia’s place, and to go to the Chrysanthemum court in her stead.  Not only does Nemesis now need to learn all the rules of court etiquette, but also how to navigate a court full of political intrigue and danger, fool other Diabolics, fellow courtiers, not to mention the Emperor.   Inspired by I, Claudius, Kincaid weaves a story of friendship and humanism set against a backdrop of a galactic empire on the brink of implosion. Recommended for science fiction fans and for those who enjoyed Marie Rutowski’s Winner’s Trilogy. Camille Campos, Benjamin Franklin Library, LAPL.   

Monday, July 31, 2017

Decelerate Blue

Graphic Novel

VG/A  Rapp, Adam.  Decelerate Blue.  First Second, 2017. 188p.  978-1-59643-109-6. 17.99


In Rapp’s vision of the future, everything is fast paced and the Guarantee Committee makes sure that your every action doesn’t waste any time. Meals are precooked, whenever you are done speaking, you say “go” indicating the next person can respond and contractions must be used as much as possible. Teenager, Angela, doesn’t like this lifestyle and when she finds a banned book called “Kick the Boot” by Kent Van Gough that the resistance movement uses as their bible, she goes underground with the movement. The resistance members take a pill called decelerate blue that makes them go slower, even reducing their heart rates. While Angela is slowing down and falling in love, the outside world is plotting to destroy the resistance. Loren Spector, LAPL, Memorial

Alex & Eliza: A Love Story

Historical Fiction

G/A  de la Cruz, Melissa.  Alex & Eliza: A Love Story.  GP Putnam’s Sons, 2017.  358p.  978-1-5247-3962-1.  $17.99

Like many people before her, Melissa de la Cruz and her daughter fell in love with and were inspired after seeing the hit musical, Hamilton on Broadway in 2016. The musical immediately made them wonder about Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler’s courtship and inspired de la Cruz. This novel focuses solely on the early days of Alex and Eliza’s relationship. It begins with their somewhat tumultuous introduction, where Alexander was charged with delivering bad news to Eliza’s father, which left Eliza not liking Alex at all. It takes a while, but ultimately Alex’s charm and determination pay off and lead to one of history’s most romantic love stories. You don’t have to be a fan of the musical or even know much about Alexander Hamilton or Elizabeth Schuyler as historical figures to appreciate this rich girl, poor boy romance. If you like historical fiction or just a good old fashioned love story, then this book is a must read. Loren Spector, LAPL, Memorial