The Naturals

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Naturals #1

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in The Naturals series is an absolute thrill ride of a mystery that is perfect for young adult readers looking for a fabulous mystery.

Cassie has always known she was good at being able to tell what people were thinking or going to say before they said anything, but never thought much of it until she is approached by someone in the FBI with an offer for a classified program perfect for her and her abilities. They have created a program for teenagers with abilities to crack cold cases and Cassie is their newest recruit. When Cassie arrives at the house with the other teens in the program, she quickly realizes there is more to the program than originally told to her. Bodies start to add up around them and Cassie is no longer feeling safe as the killers sets their sights on her.

The Naturals is the first book in the series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and I picked it up after reading The Inheritance Games series by her and falling in love with her writing style. The mystery and the way it unfolded and all came together by the end was so satisfying and enjoyable to read. Cassie was a great protagonist and the love triangle between her and the others at the house was fun and kept the story flowing. This story reminded me a lot of Criminal Minds set more for the Young Adult readers without the horror and gore. Cassie had a lot to overcome throughout the novel but didn’t let anything keep her down or let those coming after her win. I would recommend this book to readers who love a great mystery with great characters and a plot that is fantastic. This book is left open perfect for the next in the series and I can’t wait to keep reading Barnes work.

The Final Gambit

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #3

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 30, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final book in The Inheritance Games series is good but not quite as good as the first two. A fantastic addition to one of my new favorite series.

Avery Kylie Grambs only has to survive a few more weeks living at the Hawthorne mansion in order to inherit billions. She has survived several attempts on her life and those she loves being targets as well. After a rough start, Avery has finally connected with the Hawthorne brothers and feels at home at Hawthorne House. As the day of her inheriting more money than any teenager has ever had approaches, more trouble pops up as a stranger arrives at the house in need of help. With each passing day, the danger increases, and Avery comes closer to losing all she is about to gain.

This book was really good; the problem was it followed the second in the series which was fantastic. The Hawthorne Legacy was so amazing that anything that followed it had zero to little chance of being anywhere close to as good. There isn’t much I can pinpoint that I didn’t care for in this book but nothing stood out as making it extraordinary. I thought the relationships were just a little dulled and the tension didn’t pull me in as much as the last. It is a great addition to the series and the ending is left open for more to come which is great fun for me as I loved the intricate nature of this series. The way that little moments from the beginning were brought full circle by the end of this book brought a smile to my face and showed me that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an author that knows what she is doing. I would recommend this book to anyone that has read the first two in the series and wants to see what comes next.

The Hawthorne Legacy

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #2

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s not often a second book in a series is better than the first, especially when the first was amazing! The Hawthorne Legacy is a fantastic addition to The Inheritance Games.

After the bombshell ending of The Inheritance Games, Avery Grambs is ready to pick up the pieces and find the man everyone thinks is dead, Tobias Hawthorne the second. DNA tests have been run that show she is not related to the Hawthorne family but now she and two of the Hawthorne grandsons are on the hunt to figure out the clues left by their grandfather. Avery continues to be threatened and those that want what has been left to Avery are ready to do whatever it takes to get her out of the picture.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that the second in the series was better than the first, and I loved the first in the series. The tension in this book was more intense and pulled me in tighter making me unable to put the book down and I read this in a single day. The story was intriguing and made me want to keep turning the pages. Avery is a special kind of protagonist: relatable, witty, and not afraid to play the games with the boys. There wasn’t much at all that I didn’t like about this book including the dangerous situations she found herself in, the mystery, and settings all had me pulled deep into the story. I love a book like this that is hard to put down and keeps me from wanting to do anything else. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy mystery and action, but make sure to read the first in the series before starting this one.

The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #1

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner!  Such a fun and engaging book; I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Avery Grambs wants nothing more than to survive high school, get a scholarship to collage and leave. She lives with her sister after her mother died and her father wants nothing to do with them. All that changes when Avery finds out she is suddenly a billionaire when Tobias Hawthorne died and left his entire fortune to her. The problem is Avery has no idea who Tobias Hawthorne is. To claim the money, she must move into the Hawthorne mansion and live for a year with the rest of the Hawthorne family. Tobias had four grandsons who are as equally smart and have a love for puzzles just like their grandfather did. All the Hawthorne men believe Avery is up to something to get their money and Avery is going to have to play along with the game that Tobias set up to survive the craziness that is her life now.

I had heard about The Inheritance Games a good bit over the last year and knew it was one I wanted to read. This book was so much fun to read; I read it in less than two days. The way the writing was done with short chapters and lots of cliff hangers made it hard to put down. I loved all the action, mystery drama and fantastic storyline. Avery is a wonderful protagonist with a storyline that makes her relatable and fun to read about; all her actions seemed exactly like the character would act and never once made me question her actions, or any of the other characters for that matter. This series makes me think of The Hunger Games and Divergent, those types of books are some of my favorites and make me enjoy reading. I ended last year in a bit of a slump not enjoying any of the books I had been reading. Being able to start the year of with a series like this is reminding me of the joy I get from reading and escaping into a great story. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a fun mystery that is action packed and full of great characters and a fun start to what is shaping up to be a great series.

The Victor

Author: Patricia St. John

Publisher: Kingsley Press

Release Date: September 17, 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting take on Christian historical fiction that middle grade readers will enjoy.

Philo is worried about his family. His sister, Illyrica has been possessed by a demon causing their family lots of stress. When he and his younger sister hear stories of a prophet from Nazareth that has been healing the sick, they hope their sister can be healed. When they mention the prophet’s name around their sister, she goes into a fit of rage. When things are at their darkest, Philo runs away but no matter where he goes, he hears of the amazing work the Jewish prophet is doing and all his miracles.

I picked this book up at Baker Book House on a family trip and just read it. An interesting fictional telling of Jesus and the miracles performed during his short time on Earth. This is a short and quick read that is probably most appropriate for middle school or high school age kids to read and fully understand. I was able to read this in a single day and thought the writing was well done and an interesting way to tell a story like this.


Author: Tracy Wolff

Series: Crave #5

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The fifth book in the Crave series is another great read that fans of the series will not want to miss!

What happened during the missing four months while Grace was stone? After coming to Katmere Academy, Grace finds that nothing in her world is as it seems. Now, she is surrounded by Vampires and any and all dangerous creatures she always thought were myth, the most dangerous of all is Hudson Vega. Somehow Grace ends up trapping Hudson and herself in her mind while she is stone. They are trapped together for months, but time doesn’t run the same while trapped in stone. The longer they are together, the more frustrated they become with each other while also growing closer. How are they going to get out and back to their family members and will they be able to do it before it’s too late.

For anyone that has read the Crave series, it is easy to fall in love with these characters and the story created. Tracy Wolff has crafted a world that fans of Harry Potter and the Twilight universe will love, and this latest installment will give readers an inside look at what happened when Grace and Hudson were trapped inside her mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but enjoyed the time spent reading it. While I did enjoy it, I wouldn’t say it was my favorite in the series; to be honest, it could have cut out two hundred pages and been just fine. Those two hundred pages caused it to drag some in the middle and had me skimming the pages at times.

The story of what happened with Grace and Hudson while she was stone is something that readers of the series have been wanting to know for a while now. The dynamic between these two is sensational, so much tension driving the story forward that it is hard to not fall in love with what you are reading. I did miss the other characters from the previous novels that added to the dynamic. Even though this series is marketed to teens and young adults, I would not recommend this to younger readers because of the sexual aspects and language. For older more mature readers this will be great addition to a fantastic series.

2022 Top Young Adult Fiction

We’re all a little young at heart, so it’s not surprise that we still enjoy YA Fiction! Check out our top picks for the year!

Top Pick: Court by Tracy Wolff

I must give Tracy Wolff a hand, it is hard to write a book over 700 pages and keep the reader interested and even aching for more after turning the last page. Plus, the woman must write like a fiend with the next two coming out later this year also, insert happy dance! This series came to my attention last year and I have been hooked since. If you are fan of teen fantasy, especially books such as Twilight, Hunger Games and even Harry Potter, you will love these.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Runner-Up: Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis

Kelcie Murphy starts out fast and doesn’t let up; this is the exact right kind of book I look forward to recommending to young readers looking for fantasy, magic, adventure and a great story. I loved the way Kelcie used all the hardships she went through to bring out the strength she needed to prove to herself and others she belonged.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Runner-Up: Nine Liars by Marueen Johnson

So many great aspects of this story that kept the pages turning quickly and hard to put down. Stevie Bell is the new age Nancy Drew and the cases she keeps coming across call to her and with the help of her friends she can help solve cases that no one else has been able to solve. My favorite thing about this series is the way they are so different from many of the other books I have read. So many books these days are a formula and the same old thing, these books are very different and entertaining.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Nine Liars

Author: Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #5

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: December 27, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When it clicks, it clicks; that’s how it works for Stevie Bell and that’s what works in these novels! This is a great addition to a fun-filled series. Loved every page!

Stevie Bell is taking her detective skills abroad to try and solve a murder mystery from the 90’s. Her boyfriend, David, has been studying in London and invites Stevie for a visit. When she arrives, she learns of a cold case from his friend Izzy whose aunt was there when two of her friends were murdered. In 1995, nine friends who met at Cambridge University go to a country house and play hide-and-seek leaving two of them murdered with an ax. No one was ever charged, and the friends went on with their lives until Stevie arrives and starts investigating. Things start to get intense as Stevie uncovers clues and the gang must keep in touch with Ellingham Academy to stay with the schedule that has been approved for them. As she gets closer to uncovering what really happened, things start to fall apart for Stevie and she doesn’t know what to do next.

Stevie Bell and the Truly Devious series gets better with each book. I have found myself loving the mysteries and fun dynamics of these stories. I have only one negative about these books, there is an aspect of LGBTQ throughout them all. As an adult reading these I can deal with but with this being marketed as young adult I don’t like that aspect advertised to younger readers. The story is fantastic, the characters are true to how I would see them acting in the progression of each book and the mysteries unfold beautifully. Not only is Stevie dealing with the case to solve but also trying to deal with the aspect of her boyfriend being in London and how things have changed in their time apart.

So many great aspects of this story that kept the pages turning quickly and hard to put down. Stevie Bell is the new age Nancy Drew and the cases she keeps coming across call to her and with the help of her friends she can help solve cases that no one else has been able to solve. My favorite thing about this series is the way they are so different from many of the other books I have read. So many books these days are a formula and the same old thing, these books are very different and entertaining. The story is mostly told from the point of view of Stevie but also at times shows what happened in the past, this back and forth helps with the story and for the reader to understand. I recommend this book to adult readers who love a good mystery with great characters and fun stories. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

All My Rage

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A contemporary story that will pull at your heartstrings and climb deep into your soul long after you have finished the very last page.

Starting out in Pakistan, Misbah has just married Toufiq in a pre-arranged marriage and they quickly leave the country they have always been in to move to America and open a motel. Jump ahead many years to the present with Sslahudin, the son of Misbah and Toufiq, is trying to navigate the world he is growing up in and the ever-changing relationship with his best friend Noor. They are both outcasts at school and try to restore their relationship after a huge fight. When Misbah falls ill, Sal tries to run the family business as his father drinks away his grief. Noor works for her uncle who owns a liquor store and wants nothing more than to get away, so she applies to college to hopefully leave him and the town that means so little to her. Sal and Noor must figure out what they mean to each other and if what they have is worth fighting for.

This is not the normal novel written by Tahir as this is very different but in a very good way. In All My Rage, readers get to see characters that grow in such a drastic way you can’t help but feel for them and all they go through. I thought it was very helpful that the front of the book contained trigger warnings for those reading it to be aware of some of the content. Even though this book is in the Young Adult category, I think that label can be misleading at times. I wouldn’t consider this great for young teens but older teens and those in their early twenty’s would probably really enjoy this one.

I enjoyed the way the story played out and the characters; I loved many of them and the ones I couldn’t stand were okay because I wasn’t supposed to like them. Being able to write characters in this way shows just how amazing Sabaa Tahir is as an author. Her first series is nothing like this and goes in a completely different direction, which shows she has great range.

I would recommend this book to those that enjoy seeing characters go through very difficult circumstances but work hard to overcome them and grow with the story.

The Take-Over Friend

Author: Carol Dines

Publisher: Fitzroy Books

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

While I would not classify this as a young adult book, it did have value within the pages for younger readers amid the challenges of growing up and friendships.

Frances has had a hard time since her best friend moved away and has felt very isolated after starting high school.  On the second day of school, she meets Sonja, the opposite of Fran’s introverted self. Sonja integrates herself into Frances’s family immediately as the girls declare themselves best friends. When Sonja’s family has trouble, she moves in with Fran and the two have to quickly discover that their fast friendship is going to be put to the test.

This book has a lot of good points dealing with young friendships and how hard it can be growing up and making friends. I understand being an introvert and wanting to have friends and what it’s like when someone comes on strong with an overpowering personality. This was a good premise but read slowly, and for a YA book, or any book for that matter, that’s not necessarily positive. As I was reading, I wouldn’t classify this as a Young Adult book, for it to be that I feel like it needs to be writing a little differently to engage the young readers. This will appeal to an eclectic group of readers but not any average reader that pick it up for a quick read.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.