Middle Grade & YA Reviews: Week of 5/29/17

Some great new YA and middle grade – one from April and the other titles are brand-new this week!


OrphanIslandOrphan Island by Laurel Snyder

(Walden Pond Press – May 30, 2017)


A novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?


Short and rambling review due to the fact that I read this in one sitting on an airplane and tried to review it before leaving the plane!

I absolutely loved the story, and was completely sucked into the world of Orphan Island. The entire premise of the story is absolutely charming and fascinating and sad and glorious and just plain magical! Reading this as a 30-something female librarian, I obviously have a different perspective than the intended audience does, but I love the fact that so many of the things that the Elders go through are precisely what parents do – not knowing how to teach specific skills or even that you ARE supposed to teach them.

The only critical thing I have to say is that I wanted more resolution at the end. I am desperately hoping for a sequel! I originally gave this 4.5 stars, but the FUNNIEST THING: The day after I wrote my Goodreads review of this (which is what I also post here), the author wrote this amazing piece on Nerdy Book Club about WHY she left us hanging, and basically why all the adults can just be frustrated, because she wrote this for the 12-year-olds – I LOVE THAT! Upgraded to 5!

I received a digital ARC of this title for review – all opinions are my own.


BangBang by Barry Lyga
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – April 18, 2017)


One shot ruined his life. Another one could end it.

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one—not even Sebastian himself—can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun.

Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend—Aneesa—to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past.

It took a gun to get him into this.

Now he needs a gun to get out.


I’m sobbing. And traumatized and horrified. And hopeful. Like “Allegedly” by Tiffany Jackson, I can’t really even review this. Just PLEASE read it. Fierce YA with crazy important messages. I won’t forget this book.

Librarian note: I also love the inclusion of diverse characters (Muslim best friend and discussions re: race and diversity – sensitivity readers used and mentioned in author’s note).

I read a finished copy of this book purchased for my high school library. 

WhenDimpleMetRishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

(Simon Pulse – May 30, 2017)


Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

OPINION: 4.5/5

Another book read and reviewed while traveling!

A sweet YA love story about heritage and following your dreams – I adored this book! Love the strong tech girl characters. Only question I have is why Dimple isn’t wearing glasses on the cover? To me that seems like a really poor cover design choice given that her glasses are such an integral part of her character. Other than that, this is an amazing new addition to the YA world.

I received a digital ARC of this title for review- all opinions are my own.

RomancingTheThroneRomancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney
(Katherine Tegen Books – May 30, 2017)


For the first time ever, the Weston sisters are at the same boarding school. After an administration scandal at Libby’s all-girls school threatens her chances at a top university, she decides to join Charlotte at posh and picturesque Sussex Park. Social-climbing Charlotte considers it her sisterly duty to bring Libby into her circle: Britain’s young elites, glamorous teens who vacation in Hong Kong and the South of France and are just as comfortable at a polo match as they are at a party.

It’s a social circle that just so happens to include handsome seventeen-year-old Prince Edward, heir to Britain’s throne.

If there are any rules of sisterhood, “Don’t fall for the same guy” should be one of them. But sometimes chemistry—even love—grows where you least expect it. In the end, there may be a price to pay for romancing the throne…and more than one path to happily ever after.


I am majorly royal-obsessed and had a blast discussing Pippa’s wedding recently – if you’re like me, and seriously considered taking a day off work for Kate’s wedding in 2011, you MUST read this book. It’s perfectly written and so much fun. I had zero expectations going into it, but couldn’t put it down once I started. I especially loved how strong and independent the main characters were and ADORED the tech and app development storyline • Like At First Blush by @bethellynsummer ~ I want MORE by this author immediately!

I received a digital ARC of this title for review – all opinions are my own. 

Find me on Goodreads for ALL of the middle grade, YA and adult books I read. All of those, plus my picture book reviews, are on my Instagram ~ would love to see you there as well!

One thought on “Middle Grade & YA Reviews: Week of 5/29/17

  1. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Orphan Island (and ready her nerdy book post when it came out, made me want to read it even more!) I also have Dimple & Rishi on my library request list.

    Thanks for the reviews, Kate :)!!


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