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July 28, 2017

4 Novels for Your Young Adult to Read Before School Starts

Reviews by MK French

School is already going back in some areas and others will be following over the next several weeks. If your teen hasn't finished their reading assignment for summer and needs a book to read, here are 4 young adult novels for teen to choose. The books can be enjoyed by the young at heart, too.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Murder in Little Shendon by A. H. Richardson

Murder in Little Shendon
August 2015; 978-1515283973
ebook, print (256 pages); mystery
Little Shendon is a picturesque village in England full of colorful characters, including the belligerent shopkeeper Fynche, who is found murdered. Almost everyone in the village had some kind of motive for doing him harm, or at least enjoy the thought of him getting what he deserved. Police Inspector Burgess has his hands full, so he invites his amateur detective friends Sir Victor Hazlett and the actor Beresford Brandon to help him conduct interviews of everyone in the village.

There's a timelessness to the book even though it likely was to have taken place in the fifties based on offhand remarks made about characters being in "the war." It felt like they were referring to World War II, and the details about plugging in a telephone to use and needing a switchboard added to that feeling.

I adored reading Agatha Christie books as a kid, and this book is definitely in keeping with the spirit of her mysteries. Where Agatha Christie's detectives somehow knew details that hadn't been discussed in the book prior to the big reveal, A. H. Richardson absolutely has all of the details in the book. They are definitely little, easily glossed over, and made me want to thwap my head at the end for missing it.

This is a very thinky and detail oriented book... Don't read it in a rush like I did!

Buy Murder in Little Shendon at Amazon

Dragon's Future by Kandi J. Wyatt

Dragon's Future
June 2016; 978-1533212351
ebook, print (258 pages); fairy tale
Ruskya and Duskya are twins from a poor family in their village, yet are chosen as riders by the two dragons that have waited year after year. They train for the next fifteen years, and the future of the dragons and the surrounding villages is put at risk when a strange turquoise dragon arrives.

I was reminded of Anne McCafferey's Dragonriders of Pern series, though I find this one a little lacking in comparison.

The naming conventions with y's everywhere gets annoying to read after a while, and it can be hard to keep characters' names straight. The plot starts off slow, without a lot of explanation for the traditions discussed, and the time jumps are a bit startling. The pace picks up about halfway through, which definitely helps. Some of the characters don't quite ring true, most notably Carryl's father, but it could be that she had overstated the disaster their relationship had been in the past.

Still, these issues aren't likely to bother the YA audience that it's aimed at.

The action sequences are well done, and there's a good amount of tension in the second half of the book. That will definitely hold the interest of a younger reader, and I think they will likely want to read the rest of the series, too.

Buy Dragon's Future at Amazon

Love is Love by Mette Bache

Love is Love
August 2017; Lorimer; 978-1459412323
ebook, print (176 pages); romance
Sent to live with her cousin's family in Vancouver, Emmy feels continually out of place and lacking in comparison to her more glamorous cousin. Then she meets Jude, who is confident, cool, funny and transgender. Emmy is sure that he doesn't like her, but the two of them do share a real connection.

This is a short novel targeting a YA audience.

Emmy's insecurities about her appearance, weight, and sense of self lead her to do just about anything to be seen as worthwhile to other people, and it's hard for her to connect with her mother. She's just as insecure around her cousin Paige or all of her friends, and the outsider feeling never really goes away unless she is with Jude.

He has the same feeling of being an outsider: because he is transgender, his family all but disowned him, friends misgender and put down his choices, and he feels out of place in his own body. The two bond well, with awkward moments; we really feel Emmy's anxiety and awkwardness, and it definitely resonates with any aged reader of the book. Those kinds of worries are universal, regardless of the source of it.

Possibly because this is such a short book, we really don't see much about why Emmy and her mother don't really connect. There are some mentions of Emmy taking medication, but we never see it or any of the care that should go along with having some kind of prescription. She's on her own a lot so that most adult figures are absent and conveniently out of the way for her.

It's a failing that most YA stories seem to have, and I was disappointed that Emmy's bonding with her uncle didn't really go anywhere. I would have liked to see more emotional growth for Emmy, but it was great to see someone like her be the main character and get the guy in the end, as well as having Jude as a nontraditional love interest. Neither are caricatures played for laughs, and we really root for their happiness along the way.

Buy Love is Love at Amazon

Satan's Son by Simone Elise

Satan's Son
April 2017; 978-1545337097
ebook, print (122 pages); paranormal romance 
Addison Meyer died in a car accident and went to hell because of her poor attitude and disrespectful behavior. She has a job to do in order to atone, and Ethan Beast, the Devil's son, has to explain what she needs to do. She finds him incredibly attractive, if annoying, and feels that he's her soul mate.

I wanted to like the idea of this based on the plot, but I actually found Addison too annoying. She was scatterbrained, deliberately obnoxious, clumsy, and had no respect for authority. As far as sins go, she was a fairly typical nineteen year old, so the thought of her going to hell didn't sit right.

I like the concept of Hell being endless lines and bureaucracy, as well as cramped dorm room accommodations.

Ultimately, the Devil having a suburban family and Ethan being so awkward and like a teenager around Addison didn't work for me. I didn't get much of a sense of either them as separate people, let alone as a potential couple.

Buy Satan's Son at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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