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

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Oracle Rebounds

High School Fiction

VG/A. Van Diepen, Allison. The Oracle Rebounds. Harlequin, 2010. 208 p. ISBN: 9780373210213 $9.99

Sequel to The Oracle of Dating.

When Kayla and Jared break up, her head is reeling. Instead of moping around, she decides to throw herself back into working as The Oracle. As she navigates a rebound relationship with a foreign exchange student and dealing with mean girls online, Kayla ends up focusing on what is really important: her friends and family.

A great sequel that stands on its own.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz

Adult/YA Category

G/A Gherman, Beverly. Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz. Chronicle Books. 2010. ISN: 978-0-8118-6790-0. 125p. $16.99.

The layout of this biography on the famous cartoonist Charles Schulz makes this book attractive and fun to read. It also includes many photos and the classic Peanut cartoon strips. Readers who are not familiar with his life will discover who is the real Charles Schulz. - Dora Ho, Young Adult Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


High School Fiction/ Historical Fiction

E/A Donnelly, Jennifer. Revolution. Delacorte Press, 2010. 496p. 978-0-385-73763-0. 18.99.

Ever since her little brother was killed two years ago, high school senior Andi Alpers’ life has sucked. She blames herself for what happened and is failing out of school, her dad has moved out and her mom has lost it completely. Everything changes when Andi’s dad forces her to come with him on a work trip to Paris. Andi becomes obsessed with the diary of a 17yo French girl from 1795, recounting her experience during the French Revolution. Even separated by two centuries, there are striking parallels between the two girls. The past and present are beautifully woven together in this fascinating story of history and redemption. You don’t have to be a fan of historical fiction to love this book. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

NR Bender, Aimee. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Doubleday, 2010. 304p. 978-0385501125. 25.95.

Not recommended for Young Adults.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Elliott, Zetta. A Wish After Midnight. Amazon Encore, 2010. 288p. 9780982555057. 12.95

Genna is a 15 year old girl living in Brooklyn, in a world of drugs and poverty. In her quiet garden sanctuary, she wishes for a different life. One day she finds herself in Civil War Era Brooklyn, a free black maid in a doctor's family. A wonderful story of real life and time travel.
Barbara Bozman, LAPL, Memorial Branch.

Ghosts of War

Ryan Smithson. Ghosts of war. HarperTeen. 2009. 307 p. 978-0-06-166468-7. 16.99

Ryan joined the Reserves at 17 and was deployed to Iraq at 19. In this memoir, we learn what the daily life of an Army Engineer is really like. This book is not pro or anti war. It is the true experience of one young man. Barbara Bozman, LAPL, Memorial Branch.

Friday, October 8, 2010


VG/E Boisrobert, Anouck and Rigaud, Louis. Popville. Roaring Brook, 2010. 16p. 978-1596435933. 16.99

This little pop-up book illustrates the growth of a new city with each turn of the page. The only words are on the final page, so it’s probably geared to a younger audience. It would be a great book in the classroom for all ages though, because it could generate discussion on many topics regarding city growth, including environmental effects and social issues. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Beat the Band

G/A Calame, Don. Beat the Band. Candlewick, 2010. 400p. 978-0763646332. 16.99.

It’s sophomore year for the boys from Swim the Fly and this time their antics are being narrated by Coop. The boys are all assigned partners in their health class and Coop gets paired with the worst possible girl in class, Helen. To try to save his social status he enters the trio into the battle of the bands, even though none of them really know how to play any instruments. Just like in the first book, hilarity ensues. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours

Middle School Fiction

G/A Springer, Kristina. My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours. FSG, 2010. 180 p.

When Tori's BFF Sienna comes back from summer vacation with a stories of her new boyfriend, Tori knows she's lying. Instead of calling her on it, she decides to make up her own wonderful boyfriend. Soon they are gaining new friends and popularity but what about the big dance? Will Tori and Sienna finally tell the truth?

A cute, fast read about middle school friendship.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Don't Stalk the Admissions Officer

High School Nonfiction

VG/A Lewak, Risa. Don't Stalk the Admissions Officer. Ten Speed Press, 2010. 198 p.

This book covers everything from deciding where to apply to how to decide if a gap year is right for you and everything in between. With irreverent quizzes and checklists, the author has taken a sometimes stressful topic and made it humorous. Her experience as an admissions counselor and alumni interviewer provides valuable insights which make this guide a must-read for anyone considering college.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL, AC Bilbrew Library

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Wager

Adult/YA Category

F/A Napoli, Donna Jo. The Wager. Henry Holt. 2010. ISN: 978-0-8050-87819. 259p. $16.99.

Napoli has always done an excellent job in YA Literature. However, this particular title was more suitable for adult than YA. Don Giovanni always has a very lavishing lifestyle. However, he lost everything after the earthquake hit Messina. A tidal wave washed away his wealth. He wandered off the country to look for food. He met a well-dressed stranger that offers him a wager – to remain in his clothes for three year and three month and three days. If he takes them off, he will lose the wager. It is a very unattractive wager, but as long as he complied, he can have all the wealth in the world. To him now, money is the most important thing because money can get him a place to rest, and food to feed himself. It he loses the wager, it is not only the money but also his soul. Without deep consideration, he entered into the wager and suffered three years, three months, and three days in his own clothes, unable to wash and clean his body. The best part of the book was the readers’ long expected happy ending. In a note to the reader Napoli mentioned that she chose to start the year in 1169 to correspond to the Mount Etna eruption. Dora Ho, Young Adult Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Ghost and The Goth

YA Fiction

G/A Kade, Stacey. The Ghost and The Goth. Hyperion, 2010. 288p. 978-1-4231-2197-8. 16.99.

When Alona Dare gets hit by a school bus and dies, she doesn’t go peacefully into the afterlife. She’s stuck in the middle as a ghost where the only living person who can see and hear her is Will Killian, the weirdest loser at school. These two people who would have never been friends in real life now must rely on each other; Alona needs Will’s help to find the light and move on and Will needs Alona’s help in controlling all the ghosts that are desperate for Will’s attention and driving him crazy. Unlike most paranormal books these days, this one is a fun, light, quick read that is sure to entertain. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All


F/A Schwartz, John. Short: Walking Tall When You’re Not Tall At All. Roaring Book Press, 2010. 132p. 978-1-59643-323-6. 16.99.

Being short often has a lot of negative connotations. Schwartz wrote this book, geared towards pre-teen and teenage boys, to challenge that negativity. He not only explains the science of being short, but teaches readers to question statistics and media reports claiming that being short is a problem. He is proof himself that being short has not ruined his life; in fact he is an extremely successful and happy short man. Even though this book is written with teenage boys in mind, it seems more like something a concerned parent would read. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Thin Executioner

General YA Fiction

G/A Shan, Darren. The Thin Executioner. Little Brown, 2010. 496p. 978-0316078658. 17.99.

After being disgraced by his father (the esteemed town executioner), young Jebel Rum decides to embark on a long and dangerous quest to gain back his honor. He brings slave Tel Hesani to help him with the journey and to sacrifice in order to gain the power of invincibility from the fire god he seeks. Inspired by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the two unlikely friends must fight for their lives and beat the odds to accomplish their goal. Though not nearly as gory as some of Shan’s other novels, it will still appeal to his fans and other adventure seekers.
Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Gardener

General YA Fiction

G/A Bodeen, S.A. The Gardener. Feiwel and Friends, 2010. 240p. 978-0-312-37016-9. 16.99

Everyone in Mason’s hometown knows about TroDyn Industries. But what they don’t know is the secrets they are keeping while conducting experiments to save the human race from food shortages. When high school sophmore Mason meets a beautiful, comatose girl, his journey of discovery and rescue begins. The concept is definitely original and the adventure and mystery will keep readers curious. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is It Night or Day?

E/A Chapman, Fern Schumer. Is It Night or Day? Farrar Straus Giroux. ISBN: 978-0-374-17744-7. 205p., $17.99. 2010.

An excellent coming of age story of a twelve years old Jewish girl leaving her hometown Stockstadt am Rhein, Germany and seeking a new life in America. Her parents feared for Edith’s safety and future when they encountered anti-Semitism in 1938 Germany. They wanted to send her to Chicago to live with her Uncle Jacob. During the journey on the sea Edith made some friends on the ship, however she was both seasick and homesick. She really missed her family and feared of their safety as well. After arriving in Chicago, she was faced with the antipathy of her Aunt Mildred, wife of Uncle Jacob, and her cousin Dorothy. Her sister Betty was sent to American only a few years ahead of her, they try to meet up and rekindle the relationship of sisters. Edith thought she would be living with Betty, however another family adopted Betty since Betty could not bear the treatment by Aunt Mildred, who treated Betty as their maid of the house. Now Edith is faced with the same treatment and she must bear it because she need Uncle Jacob’s help in getting her parents out from Germany. The war of Germany and United States had begun; many banners in the neighborhood were replaced with the gold star instead of blue ones (i.e. the soldiers in their family were killed in action). Edith also received news that her parents were killed in concentration camp; she shared the same feeling among her neighbors who lost their sons (i.e. love ones) in the Germany. She told one of her neighbor, “ You and I, both of us, have lost so much.” Dora Ho – LAPL Young Adult Librarian

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir

G/A Welch, Diana, et al. The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir. Harmony, 2009. 352p. 978-0307396044. 24.99

This 2010 Alex Award Winner chronicles the lives of four young siblings who tragically lost both parents within a few years of each other. They write about their struggles to find a place they can call home and still remain a family. The book is written in short chapters by each of the siblings, allowing the reader to get four points of view on what happened. Although honored as an adult book with teen appeal, only older teens who like the memoir genre will truly enjoy it. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve


G/A Williams, Carol Lynch. Glimpse. Simon & Schuster, 2010. 496p. 9781416997306. 16.99

When Hope walks in on her older sister Lizzie with her finger on the trigger of a shotgun, everything in her life starts to unravel. Lizzie is sent off to the hospital for being suicidal and Hope has to live alone with her selfish prostitute mother. Told in free verse from Hope’s perspective, the reader will learn what has lead Lizzie to suicide and how the sisters formed such a tight bond throughout a tough childhood. This quick read is a bit depressing, but fans of Ellen Hopkins and Elizabeth Scott will love it. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Middle School Fiction

F/A Haddon, Mark. boom! Random House, 2010. 208p. 978-0-385-75187-2. 15.99
Jim and his best friend Charlie find themselves in trouble when they hear their teachers talking in a strange language and start to investigate. It turns out that there are aliens living all over England. When Charlie goes missing, Jim and his sister leave town to find him and discover much more then they expected. Readers will encounter a lot of British slang that could make it confusing, especially since it’s written for younger readers. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life

VG/M Reef, Catherine. Ernest Hemingway: A Writer’s Life. Clarion Books, 2009. $20.00, 183p.

Unlike most biography, this one flow well and teens will enjoy reading it from cover to cover. With many photos detailing the life a great American writer whose life was carefully outlined in eleven chapters. In each of the chapter, Reef focuses on an aspect of Hemingway’s life. Born as the oldest son to Ed and Grace Hemingway, he did not win his parents approval for his style of writing. His relationship with them drifted further away over the years. His life was not a most desirable one: many time he struggled as a writers; he had several failure in marriages: Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, and Martha Gellhorn, and he committed suicide to end his life. He was most proud of his work as wartime correspondence for various newspapers. This oversize tome is great for high school assignment or general research on the life of Ernest Hemingway, but for more extensive research, The Ernest Hemingway, a Literary Reference would be a more comprehensive source. Dora Ho, LAPL - Young Adult Librarian

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wide Awake Princess

Middle School Fiction

VG/E Baker, E. D. Wide-Awake Princess. Bloomsbury, 2010. 261 p.

This is a humorous retelling of Sleeping Beauty with characters from some other familiar tales thrown in. In a world where everyone is blessed with magical gifts at birth, Annie's gift is to be immune to magic. So when her older sister inevitably pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and the entire castle falls asleep, she is still awake. Now she must journey throughout the kingdom searching for princes to try and wake her sister with a kiss.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL, AC Bilbrew Library

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picture the Dead

G/A Griffin, Adele. Picture the Dead. Sourcebooks Fire, 2010. 272p. 978-1402237126. 17.99.

Jennie Lovell has recently lost most of her loved ones in battle during the Civil War; her father, twin brother and fiancĂ© are all dead. Her life in Brookline, Massachusetts must go on even with their ghosts haunting her. Complete with illustrations from Jennie’s personal scrapbook, this book follows her as she discovers the truth about war and ghosts. Good for fans of historical fiction, mystery or lightly gothic books. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Monday, April 26, 2010

City Boy by Jan Micahel

G/A Michael, Jan. City Boy. Clarion Books, 2009. $16.00 188p.

Sam used to have his own bed, computer and a nice place to live in the city. Now he has to move in with his aunt in the village after the death of both his parents. Set in modern day Africa, Sam lost all his possession except two books and a pair of shoes that his mom brought for him at this last birthday. He has to adjust to village life with no electricity and sleep on the floor and share everything with his cousins. A great coming of age story on how a city boy learns to embrace family, friendship and hard life. Dora Ho, LAPL - Young Adult Librarian

43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise

VG/MS Klise, Kate. Dying to Meet You. Harcourt. 2009. $15.00 147p. Series: 43 Old Cemetery Road.

Ignatius B. Grumply is a famous children author. However, he has not published for at least 20 years. Now he has a case of writer’s block and he is broke. He needs a quiet place to write his new book. After his agent rented him the house at 43 Old Cemetery Road, he realized that this is more than an empty house. A boy and a ghost actually live there as well. As part of the contract of the rent, he is the caregiver of the boy. The ghost is 92 years old Olive Spence who tried so hard to get her book published but unfortunately was reject by every publisher. She bounces to haunt this house, her house, until she published her book. Amazing things happened to Mr. Grumply and Ms. Spence; they developed a wonderful relationship and collaborate on their book. The book is written in letter format with each character communicate with each others using letters. Perfect for reluctant readers. Dora Ho, LAPL - Young Adult Librarian.

VG/MS Klise, Kate. Over My Dead Body. Harcourt, 2009. $15.00 116p. Series: 43 Old Cemetery Road.

Ignatius B. Grumply, Ms. Olive Spence, and Seymour Hope are now living together at 43 Old Cemetery Road. However, their once happy life was interrupted by, Dick Tater, the head of the International Movement for the Safety and Protection of Our Kids and Youth (IMSPOOKY). Tater commits Grumply to an insane asylum and sends Seymour to an orphanage because Tater does not believe in ghost. The same humorous and witty letter exchanges accentuate the entire incident and finally Grumply and Olive Spence officially adopt Seymour. Dora Ho, LAPL - Young Adult Librarian

Sistrsic92 (Meg) by Cheryl Dellasega

VG/M Dellasega, Cheryl. Sistrsic92 (Meg) with illustrations by Tyler Beauford. BLOGGRLS Series. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2009. $16.99. 226p.

Meg (Eggy) has a T2P2 (The Totally Perfect Person) for a sister. The whole world revolves around her sister and all Meg has is two “sort of” friends who communicate with her via her blog. They share all their emotions and stories including the illness of Cara, Meg’s sister. Through the understanding of Cara’s illness, bulimia, Meg also discovered another serious scar that Cara bears; Cara was date raped by her boyfriend. Meg tries to help her sister to cop with bulimia, restore Cara's self esteem and to patch up their relationship as sisters and family again. The book is written in blog. There is a glossary in the front of the book for the readers. For those who enjoy reading blogs as well as relationship between sisters, this is a great novel. The illustrations by Tyler Beauford enhance the story greatly.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Far from Gringo Land

High School Fiction

G/A Myers, Edward. Far from Gringo Land. Clarion, 2009. 208 p.

Rick is spending the summer before his senior year of high school in Mexico but he is not on vacation. He is helping a Mexican family build an addition onto their house. In exchange, he gets to practice his Spanish and live as a member of the family. As the work begins, Rick realizes that he is not prepared for the hard work or the hard life that the Romeros deal with every day. Complicating matters is a pretty, rich, American girl that Rick has fallen for.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL, AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I am an Emotional Creature


VG/M Ensler, Eve. I am an Emotional Creature : The Secret Life of Girls Around the World. Villard, 2010. 148 p. 9781400061044. 20.00.

Author of The Vagina Monologues, Ensler has crafted a new collection of fictional monologues inspired by young girls from around the world, including the United States, France, Egypt, Israel, Iran, and China. These powerful narratives cover a wide range of social issues from peer pressure, eating disorders, dating, abusive relationships to sex slavery. Told through a mixture of poetry, proses, questions and answers, and are interspersed with interesting factoids. This is an important work recommended for any Young Adult collection. Camille K. Campos, LAPL, Cahuenga Branch

Crazy Beautiful

High School Fiction

G/A Baratz-Logsted, Lauren. Crazy Beautiful. Houghton, 2009 191 p. 9780547223070. 16.00.

Lucius is a troublemaker. His latest escapade has left him severely injured, with hooks as replacements for hands, and has earned him a reputation as being crazy. On the outside Aurora appears perfect, but is still grieving for the mother she has just lost to cancer. Although, they exist on opposite sides of high school’s popularity spectrum, they can’t keep from falling in love with each other at first sight. Meant to be a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Camille K. Campos, LAPL, Cahuenga Branch

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Flash Burnout

High School Fiction

G/A Madigan, L.K. Flash Burnout. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 332p. 978-0547194899. 16.00.

Sophomore Blake loves photography and his perfect girlfriend, but he can’t help but get entangled in fellow photographer, Marissa’s troubled life. Keeping his girlfriend’s jealousy under control and his friend’s personal problems secret make his life complicated. Even though the book deals with many serious topics, Madigan’s use of humor makes the story less dark and gloomy and more enjoyable. Watching Blake grow and mature through his relationships makes for a good read. Winner of the 2010 William C. Morris Award for first time authors of YA fiction. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical

High School Fiction Short Stories

G/M Noyes, Deborah (editor). Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical. Candlewick, 2009. 240p. 978-0763637521. 16.99.

Kids who have graduated from Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark and want darker, creepier tales, will love this collection from editor Deborah Noyes. It has 10 stories (7 short stories and 3 graphic stories) written by beloved Young Adult authors, such as Vivan Vande Velde and Annette Curtis Klause, that are all based around the theme of freaks and human oddities. A couple of the stories fall flat, but the majority are not only creepy, but entertaining too. Favorites include: The Bread Box, Jargo and Those Psychics on TV. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Alchemy and Meggy Swan

High School Fiction

VG/A Cushman, Karen. Alchemy and Meggy Swann. Clarion, 2010. 176 p. 9780547231846.

Meggy Swann is a young woman growing up in Elizabethan England. She has hip dysplasia and walks painfully with crutches. After her grandmother dies, her mom sends her to live with her absent father in London. He is an alchemist who has no time for anything but his work. Despite her physical difficulties, Meggy begins to make friends and a life for herself. But all of that is put in jeopardy when she overhears a nefarious plot that involves her father.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL, AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Reviews

Young Adult Librarians,
Please post reviews under comments!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome to Young Adult Reviewers of Southern California

Welcome Young Adult Reviewers Members!