Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Young Adult
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.


A Very Large Expanse of Sea was everything I was expecting it to be, and then so much more. It was like The Hate U Give meets Eleanor & Park. I felt all of the feels, but I also had to walk in the shoes of someone completely different than me. I swooned, and I also examined my own privilege. This book was everything, and everyone in America should read it.

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Audiobook Review: Sadie

Sadie by Coutrney Summers

Narrated by Dan Bittner, Fred Berman, Gabra Zackman, & Rebecca Soler
Genres: Young Adult, Suspense
Maturity Level: 5 (Content Warning, Sexual Abuse)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

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.


This is a truly outstanding, difficult, and important book for teens. However, I didn’t connect with it as much as many other people did, in part due to the writing, and in part due to the narration.

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Review: After the Fire

After the Fire by Will Hill

Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating:
⋆⋆⋆

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.

But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire. 


If you’re into psychological thrillers and young adult novels, After the Fire definitely does the job. It was fun, moderately exciting, and mysterious enough. But it wasn’t as well executed as the best of the genre.

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Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Genres: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?


Oh my goodness, this book was so sweet and cute and fun! I just loved it to death, and if you like graphic novels (and probably even if you don’t), you will too!

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Review: Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.


This might be the most hyped book in the history of hyped YA. It came out just after the Twilight faze was winding down, but unlike the other books of that era (Divergent, City of Bones, Shadow of Blood and Bone) people are STILL talking about this as one of the best YA series out there. So I came in cautiously optimistic, wary of over-hype but still looking forward to it. But y’all, unlike so many of the others, this book lives up to the hype.

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Review: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Series: Arc of a Scythe
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating:
⋆⋆⋆

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.


Scythe was the quintessential YA dystopia. So much so that I was surprised at how recently it came out. It falls along the same lines as The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent, seamlessly blending everything readers have come to expect from the YA genre.

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Review: Wayward Son

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Series: Simon Snow
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5-
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Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…


I bought this book mainly because I figured as long as I own every book Rainbow Rowell has ever written, I may as well round out the set. I was fully prepared to not enjoy it. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much better it was than Carry On!

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