Top Ten Favorite “Classic” YA/Middle-grade Novels

This is a repost from my earlier days of blogging! Hope you enjoy it!

Classic meaning twelve years or older. Not necessarily in order.

1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery-this will always be a favorite of mine.

2. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (Actually the whole “Immortals” Series)-this is the best YA fantasy ever. They need to start publishing more books like these!

3. The “Blossom Culp” Series by Richard Peck (the whole series) – now this is a GREAT Paranormal! And appropriate for actual Young Adults as the romance part is rather sweet.

4. Constance by Patricia Clapp- the best historical YA romance ever.

5. Beauty by Robin McKinley- the best retelling of Beauty and the Beast ever.

6. Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume- an excellent contemporary YA.

7. The Rain Catchers by Jean Thesmen.

8. Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

9. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell -not technically a YA, but as the heroine is between the ages of 12-30, I still think a teen would enjoy it.

10. The True Confessions of Charlotte Dole by Avi.

Three More Great YA Books

I have three more YA novels you have to read! I read these over the last week, and they were all fabulous! While extremely different in both tone and subject, they were all moving and wonderful in their own ways. I would definitely put these on you “to be read” list!


The Poisoned House by Michael Ford Book Description-

“Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850sLondon. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. The widowed master of the house is slowly slipping into madness, and the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs.Cotton, punishes Abi without mercy. But there’s something else going on in Greave Hall, too. An otherworldly presence is making itself known, and a deadly secret will reveal itself—a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.” -Amazon

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Book description-

“Exploring Indian identity, both self and tribal, Alexie’s first young adult novel is a semiautobiographical chronicle of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a Spokane Indian fromWellpinit,WA. The bright 14-year-old was born with water on the brain, is regularly the target of bullies, and loves to draw. He says, “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” He expects disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school in Reardan, but soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one’s community, identity, and tribe. The daily struggles of reservation life and the tragic deaths of the protagonist’s grandmother, dog, and older sister would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which Junior faces the world. The many characters, on and off the rez, with whom he has dealings are portrayed with compassion and verve, particularly the adults in his extended family. Forney’s simple pencil cartoons fit perfectly within the story and reflect the burgeoning artist within Junior. Reluctant readers can even skim the pictures and construct their own story based exclusively on Forney’s illustrations. The teen’s determination to both improve himself and overcome poverty, despite the handicaps of birth, circumstances, and race, delivers a positive message in a low-key manner. Alexie’s tale of self-discovery is a first purchase for all libraries.”—Chris Shoemaker,New YorkPublic Library

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live inMolching,Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.”–Francisca Goldsmith,BerkeleyPublic Library, CA

More YA Novels you Have to Read

1. For Keeps by Natasha Friend- Book description: “For sixteen years, Josie Gardner and her mom, Kate, have been a team. It’s been the Gardner Girls against the world, and that’s how Josie likes it. Until one day, they find out that Paul Tucci, Kate’s high school boyfriend-the father Josie has never met-is back in town. Josie’s mom suddenly turns back into the heartbroken teenager she was when Paul moved away. Meanwhile, Josie’s on the verge of having her first real boyfriend. And when Josie learns some surprising truths about Paul Tucci and the past, she begins questioning what she thought she knew, and finds out what happens when a girl gets the guy she always wanted and the dad she never knew she needed.”

This is a great contemporary YA novel. I especially loved how it dealt with dark issues without being depressing. It can be really hard to find a contemporary YA novel that’s not depressing in the middle.

2. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson- Book description: “The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon Rippermania” takes hold of modern-dayLondon, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.”

I LOVE LOVED this book. I can’t wait to read the next one. Creepy, intriguing, and SO unique! I highly recommend it.

3. Going Bovine by Libba Bray- Book description: “Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.”

I cried over this book and I’ve never cried at a book or movie in my life. It’s haunting and beautiful and disturbing. I’m still thinking about it three weeks later. How often can you say that about a book? Please, please read this one.

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor- Book description: “Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal other wordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?”

Another GREAT book. This was one that renewed my desire to be a writer. I can only hope to write a book ¼ as great as this one someday.

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver- Book description: “Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.

I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.

I want to get it over with.

It’s hard to be patient.

It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.

Still, I worry.

They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.

The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.”

The best dystopian novel I’ve read, and even though I hear there is going to be a sequel, I will say the ending didn’t have enough of a resolution. Still extremely good. Read it!

6. The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer-Book description: “Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event–an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.”

LOVED LOVED this. Haunting and scary. It really made me think. Again, the ending was not resolved to my satisfaction. In fact, I felt like someone ripped a couple of pages out of my library copy. I hear there are a couple companion novels, one that came before this one and one after, and that the one after does have some resolution. I still felt like it left the reader hanging in an unacceptable way. Still, it was great, and very different from other books out there. Would highly recommend it.

More YA Books You’ll like, But….

Okay, so here are some more YA books that I’ve read and enjoyed, but that I had some issues with and so couldn’t put them in my list yesterday. They’re still fun reads, though!


1. The Fallen series by Lauren Kate- (Paranormal romance) I really enjoyed these books, but… I felt like she didn’t wrap things up well. There were lots of questions left dangling, and not in a good way, more like the threads of the story had gotten a little lost. Still, very engaging writing, fun to read, I might even still buy copies, because I liked them that much.


2. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen- (Historical YA Romance) So, I will say this. I knew how it was going to end within the first 5 pages, which was kind of a let down. And the behavior of the characters was highly improbable given the time period. Also, the end wasn’t an end at all, but more of a set-up for the coming squeal, which I disliked. But I did enjoy it. The author does an excellent job transporting you to New York City during the year 1899, showcasing the glittering society in much the same way that regency romances for adults are written. I loved the world.


3. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr- (Urban fantasy) I LOVE LOVE LOVE these books. They are gritty, dark, intoxicating fantasies that I can’t get enough of. They would have been in my list yesterday except for one small thing. Book two, Ink Exchange, is Leslie’s story. In the first book, Wicked Lovely, she was the main character’s best friend. My main problem is that I feel like this book ended a hundred pages too early. The author doesn’t satisfactorily tell us what happens to Leslie, or really resolve much, and there isn’t another book in the series that does. We’re left hanging. I’ve heard that there is a digital download you can buy that does resolve things, but I haven’t purchased it yet.


4. Generation Dead by Daniel Waters-(Paranormal romance) Okay, I love the idea. Zombies are the living impaired! It was a fun read, but I had two big problems with it. One, the ending was predictable, and two, I felt like the voice of the girls wasn’t accurate, more like a man writing what he thinks two sixteen year old girls might talk about (which I think is the case). Still, it was a good read.


5. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare -(urban fantasy)-I really did enjoy these. My only problem is that they seem kind of fluffy, kind of commercial, and the romance was a little disappointing. Still, though, I enjoyed them.


6. Anna and the French kiss by Stephanie Perkins- (contemporary YA romance)_-I really enjoyed this and would read it again. My only problem is that Anna is extremely boy crazy. At one point, St. Clair (the boy) is helping her order from her school cafeteria in French, and says something along the lines of “We’ll have you speaking French in no time.” Anna’s internal dialogue immediately wonders if she wants to learn French at all. Then, the author writes “Argh. Boys make girls into such idiots,” Or something along those lines. This immediately pulled me out of the story. It was like the author was thinking, “Whoops, too much. Let’s try to redeem her a little bit.” If she’s going to be boy crazy, she should just be boy crazy. If you want to show that not all girls are like that, then show that. But that one sentence was clearly the author taking, and not Anna. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this one.


7. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer- (paranormal romance) Okay, I read them all, and they were enjoyable, but… I don’t like how Bella constantly relies on Edward for her own physical and mental well-being. I felt like she was weak and dependant, not a good role model for girls.


Newer YA Books You’ll Love to Read

If you are interested in writing for the YA market, then you must read, read, read the YA market. Here is a list of books to get you started!

1. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby- (contemporary YA) I loved the voice of this story. So not the typical teen- not totally boy crazy, concerned with other things in her life, especially coming to terms with her mother’s death, and with a hint of mystery and a deep, touching drama. Excellent read!


2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen- (contemporarily YA) Actually, I would recommend all of her books, but this is a great one to start with. I love how she picks a central theme, then works almost every scene in each book off that theme, like a giant, intriguing web. I can never put down any of her books once I start to read them.


3. Divergent by Veronica Roth- One of the best Dystopian YA books out there. Her world is complex and intriguing, with characters that immediately pull you in. This was another one that was extremely hard to put down!


4. Wake by Lisa McMann- (The first in a paranormal series) These books cover some heavy, gritty topics, but in a way that is new and refreshing. They’re all fast-paced, can’t-put-them-down books. I’d definitely recommend them, but again, they can be rather heavy at times.


5. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt (YA fantasy)- I loved this book! It’s unique, beautiful, and full of magic! While it had a twist that I saw coming, it was still immensely satisfying. If you’re looking for a paranormal romance, then read this one. One of the best I’ve ever read, period.


6. Mistwood by Leah Cypess (YA Fantasy)- If you liked Graceling, you must read Mistwood. In fact, I think I might have liked it better than Graceling (Although I enjoyed that, too). I found it suspenseful, beautiful, eerie, in short everything a good YA fantasy should be. Plus, she’s a female character who kicks butt. She doesn’t have to depend on some guy to rescue her. What else could you want?


7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (contemporary YA)- This is an excellent Contemporary YA, which explores the topics of grief, death, losing a sister, and becoming who you were truly  meant to be. Lennie’s moving journey is one that will stick with you a long time.


8. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (paranormal YA thriller!)- I love that this is more a paranormal thriller then a paranormal romance. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind sick of the whole paranormal romance thing. This is the story of Violet Ambrose, who has been able to psychically sense dead bodies for her entire life. I know, right? It grabs you right from the beginning, and you can’t put it down.



Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr: A Review

Synopsis from cover:

Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Court has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .


Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr is the second book in her Wicked Lovely Series, which are all dark, urban fantasies. The main character, Leslie, played a supporting role in the first book, Wicked Lovely. This book is her story. I would definitely recommend Melissa’s books to any YA reader. They are dark, enticing, intriguing… very engaging reads. I love how she isn’t afraid to explore darker themes.

In this book, the main character has been raped and struggles to find a way to deal with the pain and horror of it. In a desperate attempt to remove the pain, she ties herself to Irail, King of the Dark Court, and allows him and his Dark Fey to feed off her emotions.

Leslie spends weeks in a haze of numbness, never allowed to feel any emotion other then an addiction to Irial. Her relationship with him fills her with euphoria and then blinding, hazy numbness, which I feel is a metaphor for actual drug addiction.

In the end, Leslie realizes that while the pain is gone, she can’t feel anything else either. She can’t experience life; she can’t be who she was meant to be. She manages to heroically break her addiction, and move on with her life. The only downside to this book is that the love triangle is not satisfactorily wrapped up. As far as I can tell, none of the other books in this series features Leslie, or the love triangle with Niall and Irail. If the next book just hasn’t been written yet, then I eagerly await it. If not, I feel like this book does not have a satisfactory ending. I hear there is a short story from Melissa Marr that you can buy featuring Leslie, but it is electronic only. If the short story answers my questions satisfactorily, I’ll let you know!

Top Ten Favorite “Classic” YA Novels

Classic meaning twelve years or older. Not necessarily in order.

1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery-This will always be a favorite of mine

2. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (Actually the whole “Immortals” Series) This is the best YA fantasy ever. They need to start publishing more books like this!

3. the “Blossom Culp” Series by Richard Peck (the whole series) – Now this is a GREAT Paranormal! And appropriate for actual Young Adults as the romance part is rather sweet.

4. Constance by Patricia Clapp- the best historical romance ever

5. Beauty by Robin McKinley- the best retelling of Beauty and the Beast ever

6. Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume- an excellent contemporary YA

7. The Rain Catchers by Jean Thesmen

8. Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

9. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (not technically a YA, but as the heroine is between the ages of 12-30, I still think a teen would enjoy it.)

10. The True Confessions of Charlotte Dole by Avi