Young Adult New Releases, Week of September 25, 2018

Happy release week to these young adult books! Thanks to the publishers for the free review copies. All opinions belong to our reviewers. 

500 WORDS OR LESS – Juleah Del Rosario

(Simon Pulse ~ September 25, 2018)

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Review and photo by Michele ~ @michelegreen120 on Instagram

Want someone to write your college essay? Got $300? Nic will do it. She refuses to be the girl who cheat on her boyfriend so it’s time to make a new rep! 4 Stars for 500 Words or Less!

I can definitely see high schoolers who are wanting to rebrand themselves, are the super smart ones, or are dreading the college applications enjoying this book. It moved swiftly and gave you just enough hints to keep you moving towards the resolution. I will purchase it for my high school library!

THE AGONY HOUSE – by Cherie Priest

(Arthur A. Levine Books ~ September 25, 2018)

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Review and photo by Akossiwa ~ @akossket on Instagram

Denise and her family move back to New Orleans in hopes of changing their fortune by renovating an old house and turning it into a bed and breakfast. Old houses are a tricky business to handle but when it becomes undeniable that the house didn’t want Denise and her family around, she decides to push back and keep her family safe by uncovering the house’s dark past.

My favorite kind of scary story is the kind that makes me jumpy, the kind that makes me wonder if what the character sees is real or an illusion, and the kind that makes me paranoid about anything remotely odd. Cherie Priest delivers all of that and more. The combination of prose and graphic novel panels adds a neat interactive level to the reading experience.

Wondering about what unsettling details Denise will uncover in her search through the house’s past makes this book a thrilling page turner and so hard to put down.

Agony House is an excellent horror read that doesn’t over do it. I highly recommend you read it in one sitting.

THE GRAND ESCAPE – by Neal Bascomb

(Arthur A. Levine Books ~ September 25, 2018)

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This one is still making its way to our reviewers!


Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters, returns with his next thrilling work of narrative nonfiction about a group of Allied POWs who staged an escape for the ages during World War I. Illustrated throughout with incredible photographs and published on the 100th anniversary of the Holzminden escape!

At the height of World War I, as battles raged in the trenches and in the air, another struggle for survival was being waged in the most notorious POW camp in all of Germany: Holzminden. A land-locked Alcatraz of sorts, it was home to the most troublesome Allied prisoners–and the most talented at escape. The Grand Escape tells the remarkable tale of a band of pilots who pulled off an ingenious plan and made it out of enemy territory in the biggest breakout of WWI, inspiring their countrymen in the darkest hours of the war.

ORPHANED – Eliot Schrefer

(Scholastic Press ~ September 25, 2018)

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Review and photo by Lisa ~ @cali_teacher_mama on Instagram

Four out of five stars for this gem! The story takes place in the paleolithic era, in a time when early humans will come in contact with gorillas for the first time. This story was written in verse, from the point of view of the young female gorilla, Snub. Her family group is displaced by a volcanic eruption. Snub’s sense of independence and curiosity drives her to look beyond her gorilla group and make some difficult decisions. When she discovers a “not gorilla” that walks on two legs and was abandoned by her family, Snub takes her in. The dynamic between these two, as well as Snub’s youngest sibling, makes you think about how powerful of a connection you can make, even if it is an unspoken one.

I really enjoyed this beautiful story. The fact that it took place at such an interesting and turbulent time in history peaked my curiosity. I think Schrefer did an amazing job with the development of Snub and loved the choice to write in verse. The short phrases created a visual imagery for me that made sense for a gorilla. This is the first book I have read in this series and it did not disappoint. I will definitely pick up the other three. I would recommend this for middle school and higher. However, I also think some of my fifth graders could definitely handle the content and would love the series as well.

WITCH BORN – by Nicholas Bowling

(Chicken House ~ September 25, 2018)

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Review and photo by Allison ~ @travelingallison on Instagram

Witch Born by Nicholas Bowling is a historical fantasy novel set in Elizabethan Era England in 1577. This book starts with a pair of witch hunters coming to Alyce’s small rural village and accusing her mother of being a witch. Which she is, and so is Alyce. Her mother send’s her to London before she is taken by the witch hunters and Alyce ends up in Bedlum asylum. She is able to escape and finds company and safety with a fellow orphan, Solomon who leads her into London to continue on her quest her mom set her upon.

This novel starts off slow, but something that was truly brilliantly was the use of magic in it and Alyce’s discovery of what her natural power is capable of. The villian’s personal narrative is sprinkled through out the novel, breaking up chapters in Alyce’s point of view and provides of sliver of information for this actions. As this novel is set during the time period when Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and Queen Elizabeth was seeking to settle the division her cousin caused, this rivalry plays an important part to the plot. This book would be great for ages 13 and up, there are very few curse words and there are some violent scenes described. A reader who loves the Tudor time period as well as a bit of magic.

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