Second to writing, reading probably takes up most of my time, even cutting into precious hours of sleep. The urge for just one more page, which turns into just one more chapter, is strong in me—especially when I have my hands on a really good book. I don’t have a top five books of all time, more like ten or twenty, but I’ll do my best to list five of my favorite recent reads and a couple I’m really looking forward to checking out soon. For fiction, I mostly read upper YA, primarily switching between contemporary and fantasy. I’m a big fan of gutsy stories with lots of heart that surprise me with stunning portrayals of truth, but sometimes I toss in fun and fluffy reads too.
Written by Estelle Laure
In This Raging Light, Luare writes with a sparse yet lyrical skill, packing every sentence with meaning. She paints a vivid image that’s easy for readers to visualize, drawing us into scene after scene. However, she leaves room for the reader to generate their own impressions. The story follows Lucille who straddles the line between being a teen and having to grow up too fast. Her struggle pulls the reader in and demands we root for her success.
Ages 14-17 | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | 2015 | ISBN-13: 9780544534292
Written by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows in a word? Compelling. This was un-put-down-able. However, the cleverness and density of the story forced me to come up for air every few chapters in order to wrap my head around the numerous characters, their conflicts, motivations, and the sizeable stakes as Kaz Brekker leads a merry band of misfits on a one-of-a-kind heist. If you’re a fan of the Greisha series by Bardugo, don’t miss this one with the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, hitting shelves later this year.
Ages 12-17 | Publisher: Henry Holt & Co | 2015 | ISBN-13: 9781627792127
Written by Adi Alsaid
Never Always Sometimes is the kind of book that gives me the warm fuzzies for friendship, love, and the innocent kind of fun that means freedom. I’m not the kind of person who hates clichés, but I won’t argue against their being broken and that’s exactly what happens when two friends rewrite the rules they’d set out for themselves and in the process redefine friendship and what it means to love. A fun and meaningful story for sure.
Ages 14-17 | Publisher: Harlequin | 2015 | ISBN-13: 9780373211548
Written by Cheyanne Young
If I had a superpower, it would be to expand time. But Maci, the heroine in the first of the three books in the City of Legends series, is strong: physically strong and head strong, but as the story progresses, she learns there’s another kind of strength, the kind that comes from inside. Young does a super job weaving themes common in YA such as romance, coming of age, friendships, etc. into a superhero fantasy. I’m only partway through book two, Valiant, but can’t wait to find out what happens—see, if time were my super power, I’d already be done!
Young adult | Publisher: Alloy Entertainment | 2016 | ASIN: B0198X6W3S
Written by Julie Murphy
With the tagline Go Big or Go Home, Dumplin’ has been on my radar since I first caught a glimpse of the gorgeous cover. What draws me most to this story is that I understand the protagonist is a “self-proclaimed fat girl” and is fully at home in her own skin. She enters a beauty pageant, potentially breaking boundaries and as the description suggests, surprising herself. I imagine it will be refreshing to read about a female lead that already practices self-love, leaving me intrigued to find out what she can teach all of us.
Ages 13-17 | Publisher: HarperCollins |2015 | ISBN-13: 978006232718
About Deirdre Riordan Hall
During her teens, Deirdre Riordan Hall traveled throughout the United States and Europe, developing a love for stories and a desire to connect with worlds imagined or real on the page. She is the author of Pearl, Sugar and the Follow Your Bliss series. When not spending time with her family, writing, or traveling, Hall is at the beach, pretending to be a mermaid.
For more information, visit: Deirdre Riordan Hall
Written by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Publisher’s Synopsis: Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.
Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.
This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.
When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.
I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.
Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?
Ages 14-17 |Publisher: Skyscape | March 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1503953093