Category: OZ: Young Adult Fiction (Page 1 of 13)

‘Neighborhood Girls’ both sweet and substantive

neighborhood girlsWhen people ask me about Neighborhood Girls by Jessie Ann Foley, I say that along with being funny and sweet, it had substance. Which, in my opinion, is always a good thing.

I tend to shy away from young adult novels. Although I love them as “literary junk food” (hey, we all gotta have it), books in this genre often seem to either only hint at emotional trauma and brokenness, or completely wallow in it. It is difficult to find a book in any genre that balances the two extremes, and for some reason YA is a particular challenge. But for me, Neighborhood Girls had it all. Lighthearted entertainment and teenage drama with unexpected insights of blatant truth, this novel kept me turning pages, laughing, and nearly crying the entire way through.

The story opens with a high school girl, Wendy, finding out the Catholic school she has attended all her life is about to close. Although this seems like momentum enough for the story-line of a novel, we soon find out that this impending change is only the backdrop to a more profound hurt. A few years earlier, Wendy’s policeman father was accused of torturing prisoners during interrogations. This accusation spiraled into a prison sentence, lawyer fees that forced the family to move, and complete alienation in their hometown of Chicago.  In order to deal with her fear and isolation, Wendy attempts to protect herself by becoming part of the most popular clique at school. But deep down she knows that these girls don’t care about her at all.

Through the book, Wendy tries to prepare herself for leaving Academy of the Sacred Heart. She realizes that life as she has always known it is about to end, and there is nothing she can do about it. In the process, she finds herself dealing with the trauma of all that has happened to her family. Although she cannot change the past, she realizes that she dealt with everything poorly. She hurt her family and the friends who tried to be there for her, and she resolves to attempt to make things better. The story is about much more than the brokenness, moving from one funny situation with charming characters to another. It is lighthearted entertainment in true YA fashion. But every so often, Wendy has a moment of truth that resonates beyond the page. She asks difficult questions. She allows herself to fully experience her emotions. And she makes thoughtful decisions, allowing us to follow her inner monologue.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I expected. But I was completely surprised by the level to which it resonated with me. I truly admire authors who are unafraid to place teenage fears and drama alongside pure human emotion and existential questions. Although this is the only one of her books I have read, Jessie Ann Foley has proven herself to be such an author with Neighborhood Girls. Can we move past family brokenness and find ourselves? Can we cope with trauma in positive ways? Can we find the beauty fractured, un-ordinary lives? This novel assures us that we can.

‘Genuine Fraud’ by E. Lockhart is a genuine gem

genuine fraudI was first turned on to E. Lockhart when my best friend and trusted book consultant recommended Lockhart’s We Were Liars. She couldn’t put it down. She loved it. She hated it. It wrecked her. All she could do after was take a nap. She couldn’t stop talking about it. This got me interested and when I saw she was coming out with a new book called Genuine Fraud and we had an advanced copy I knew I just had to read it.

Knowing what I did about We Were Liars, I was hesitant to believe or trust anything in her new novel Genuine Fraud. I knew nothing and no one  would be as simple as they seemed.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Lockhart introduces a new and captivating suspense and psychological horror novel with Genuine Fraud. The book starts off with chapter 18, in June 2017. Hint: you should pay attention to the dates. The story is mainly told in flashbacks over the course of the past few years. The story is about Imogen and Jule and their friendship and time together. It’s a story of those who lack morals. It is a story about those that lack ambition and others who will do whatever it takes to get what they want. It’s a story about liars and cheaters (in more ways than one). It’s about accidents and premeditation and telling more would give too much away.

If you have read We Were Liars, be warned the only similarity is that they both take you by surprise. Genuine Fraud is very straight forward and, in some ways, this makes the mystery even harder to figure out. It seems like things are one way, and because they are presented as fact, I was always questioning what was real and what wasn’t. It is a very fast and short read, perfect for a weekend binge read. It has just enough ambiguity in the plot to keep you flipping the pages until the very end.

The Adventures of an 18th Century Rogue Lord: ‘The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’

Let me start out by saying that I love historical fiction set in Europe, like, a lot. I love historical fiction for all ages, as well. It is one of my favorite genres, so when I saw this book in a box full of Young Adult advance reader copies, I HAD to read it. And it did not disappoint. Finally, it is out in hardback and I can tell you all about the story that made me laugh, swoon, and cry, all in one beautifully bound novel.

gentlemans gt vice & virtueIn The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee’s fabulous adventure novel set in the eighteenth century, two best friends set out on their European tour. Monty, son of a lord, and his best friend Percy are accompanied by Monty’s sister Felicity, and, much to Monty’s dismay, a chaperone. Their chaperone is there to make sure Monty and Percy stay out of trouble, which could include drinking too much, gambling, and Monty sticking his foot in his mouth. Despite this, Monty, Percy, and Felicity continue to find themselves in a multitude of tight spots. To top it all off, Monty harbors a massive crush for Percy; feelings which he is unsure would be reciprocated by his (mostly) rule-following best friend.

Their journey begins in France with an ill-fated night at Versailles, where we witness the theft of an object very valuable to the Duke of Bourbon, Monty getting caught in the Duke’s quarters with a girl in a very compromising position, and their embarrassing departure. After that, the inexperienced trio, having lost their chaperone, travel alone through multiple countries on a secret mission (I don’t want to give away the biggest plot twist in the book, so that’s all I’ll say about that). As their Grand Tour derails in the most spectacular fashion, they encounter marauders, pirates, and gypsies, who will either help them or try to kill them. Hilarity ensues.

To tell you all the truth, I was so enraptured with this book, loved it so much, that I reread most of it before I started writing this blog. Mackenzi Lee is a master of historical fiction that includes a hybrid language: a mix of historically-accurate speech and speech that teens can relate to. Monty, Percy, and Felicity are a perfectly orchestrated team. Somehow, they find themselves getting out of every bad situation imaginable to a group of teens, with only a few scrapes and bruises.

If you’re like me and enjoy European tales of adventure, with a few mishaps along the way (and just a touch of romance), then you’re going to love this book.

Do You Promise Not to Tell?: ‘It’s Not Like It’s a Secret’ by Misa Sugiura

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura is a young adult novel is about the daughter of Japanese immigrants who struggles to find her place in the world of teenagers. The novel begins when Sana, the daughter, learns that her family is moving to California from Wisconsin because her father has gotten his dream job at a start-up company in San Jose. She thinks that being uprooted from her life in Wisconsin is going to be just awful–but she soon finds that her life in Wisconsin is nothing compared to her life in California. She meets new people who she has more in common with, and slowly stops thinking about Wisconsin altogether.

I really like this book because author Misa Sugiura talks openly about race. Sana’s new school in California is entirely unlike her school in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Sana was the only Asian in the school, and the other girls in her class never let her forget that fact. In California, she is immediately taken in by a group of Asian girls. These girls befriend her, love her, and she accepts their friendship because she relates to them as children of immigrants, even though their parents are all from different countries. As a school, many of the different ethnicities band together in separate groups, and this is something Sana rejects. She breaks away by hanging out with other groups; at different points of the school year, she finds herself having lunch with the “goth” white kids as well as with her girlfriend Jamie and Jamie’s friends, who are Hispanic. I got the feeling that before Sana came to the school, the kids all stuck to their respective ethnic groups; Sana’s appearance at the school seems to have changed that.

Sugiura is also incredibly informative about different cultures throughout this book. Sana’s parents are Japanese. Later in the novel we learn that they come from ancient, noble families in the countryside. Consistently throughout the book, Sana’s mother talks about Gaman. The concept of Gaman is about tradition and honor: getting married and having children; marrying someone in the same class as you; staying with the person you married, even if you’re unhappy. Sana’s parents are not overly affectionate with each other or with Sana, which Sana attributes to their culture. There are no family pictures or baby pictures of Sana around the house, but when Sana visits her girlfriend’s house, Jamie’s family is affectionate to each other, hugging and kissing each other hello and goodbye, and Jamie’s mother keeps photos of Jamie and her siblings on almost every surface. This is very different than what Sana is used to in her family’s culture.

My favorite thing about this novel is that Sugiura incorporates poetry into her novel, a fact that I greatly admire because I think it is important for young people to know about poetry and come to appreciate it. Sana not only enjoys keeping a poetry journal for one of her classes; she adores Emily Dickinson, and she and her girlfriend exchange poems as love notes to each other. Her attempt to win Jamie back after a breakup includes the use of poetry to convey her regret in losing Jamie, as well as her feelings for her. It is all very sweet and made me smile, and it works, of course. After the ending, Sugiura includes a short explanation as to why she used poetry in the book and the main reasons why she loves poetry. She also includes a list of all the poems she references in the novel so that you can read them yourself.

I’ll wrap up this blog by saying that I think this is a fantastic novel about family and about finding your place in the world. As a kid who moved around a lot in high school, I appreciate any novel whose main character is “the new kid,” and Sana navigates that role with grace. Sugiura’s use of poetry really rounded out the novel for me, and the diversity of the students is fantastic in a young adult novel such as this.

Polly’s April Triple YA Book Recommendation

If you’re like me, you’re trying to find the next thing to read a lot. I’m either too busy to read, binge reading while I do have time to read, or I’m in an awkward state of limbo between books. However, lately these three books have helped pull me out of my reading rut and gotten me back on track!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

why we broke upThere aren’t many YA romance novels that compel me to go through them with a pen and a highlighter. Why We Broke Upis a rare exception. My copy of this book is so inked up and loved that I honestly feel like it’s become a treasure to me. It was written by Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snickett!) and has won some very prestigious awards since its release. It’s framed as a letter written by Min to her ex-boyfriend Ed, systematically explaining each item in the box she is dropping off at his house and how it explains why they broke up. It features beautiful, vivid illustrations that tie the whole book together in a truly unique way. The gorgeous poetic style of this book made it feel more like a long song than a novel, and its portrayal of the heartbreak of young love will make you ugly-cry.

ugly cry

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

darkest cornersIt’s such a cliche to say that I couldn’t put this book down, but trust me when I say that I really do mean it when it comes to The Darkest Corners. It’s a dark, compelling mystery that follows the story of Tessa, a girl who, along with her childhood best friend Callie, was a major witness in the trial for the murder of Callie’s cousin. She returns to Fayette, Pennsylvania, for the first time in ten years to say goodbye to her dying father. However, when the Ohio River Monster strikes again, she is forced to face the question: What if her testimony put the wrong man behind bars? This book will seriously keep you guessing until the very end, and you’ll never believe the ending either.


Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins

sometimes we tell the truthWho knew that a retelling of The Canterbury Tales could feel so modern and authentic? Emulating Chaucer is a tall order by any standard, but Kim Zarins delivers. The story takes place on a bus headed to Washington D.C. filled with rambunctious teens stuck together on a six-hour bus ride. Their civics teacher and supervisor’s solution is to come up with a story-telling competition: best story gets the winner an A in the class. The stories range from hilarious to raunchy to deadly serious, but all of them teach us something valuable about the characters. The cast is diverse and compelling, as one would have to be to make a reader relate to a 24-person cast! The story is tried and true, but Kim Zarins puts an amazing, modern spin on things to make an unforgettable read.


Author Q & A with Angie Thomas

Interview with Angie Thomas by Clara Martin. Special to Twenty by Jenny.

Angie ThomasIn August of 2015, I met Angie when she had just signed with her agent. She was excited, hopeful, but also nervous. She didn’t know how a book influenced by Black Lives Matter would work for a YA story. Over a year later, The Hate U Give is going to be a movie (starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr), and Angie (and T.H.U.G.) are getting ready to take the world by storm. Angie was kind enough to answer some questions before embarking on her tour! Here is a review of The Hate U Give.

Where are you from? Tell me about the journey that led you to where you are now.

hate u giveI was born, raised, and still reside in Jackson, Mississippi. I’ve told stories for as long as I can remember—I used to write Mickey Mouse fanfiction when I was six. But I never thought that I could be an author until I was in college, studying creative writing. I actually wrote the short story that became The Hate U Givewhile I was in my senior year. It took me a few years after college, though, to decide to make it a novel. Even after I wrote it, I was afraid that the topic may not be appropriate for YA. So when a literary agency held a question and answer session on Twitter, I asked if the topic was appropriate. An agent not only responded and said yes, he asked to see my manuscript. A few months later, I signed with him, and a few months after that we were in a 13-publishing house auction.

When did you know you needed to write this book?

Oscar Grant

Oscar Grant

Like I said, I first wrote it as a short story during my senior year of college, back in 2010/2011 after the shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. Like my main character, Starr, I was living in two different worlds—my neighborhood that most people called “the hood” and my upper class, mostly-white college. By being in these two different worlds, I heard two very different takes on the case. At my school, he was seen as a thug who deserved what he got, but in my community he was one our own. My anger, fear, and frustration led me to write the story. I put it aside after graduation, but as more of these cases continued to happen, I found myself angry, afraid, and frustrated again. So I did the only thing I knew how to do–I wrote.

Black Lives Matter is…

An organization and a movement. I don’t think a lot of people realize there’s a difference between the two. (And for the record, I’m not affiliated with the organization). It’s also a statement. It is not saying that only black lives matter or that black lives matter more. All lives should matter, indeed, but we have a systemic problem in this country in which black lives don’t matter enough. Black lives matter, too.

Tell us a little bit about Starr. Why did you use her voice to tell the story? She starts out so unsure of herself, and it was amazing watching her grow and come into her own.

I know plenty of Starrs in my neighborhood; I was a bit of a Starr myself growing up. She’s in two different worlds where she has to be two different people, and she’s still trying to figure out which one is truly her. I think a lot of people can relate to that. Also, there is this stereotype that black women, especially young black women, are loud and harsh, and I wanted to crush that stereotype with this character.

There is a moment where Starr is in the car with Chris, and she says to him, “I don’t need you to agree…Just try to understand how I feel. Please?” And I felt like this was a powerful line that white people need to hear from black people.

That’s one of my favorite lines, actually. I think if more people understood why black people are so upset when another unarmed black person is killed, it would help bring about change. These cases always become political, but for so many of us they are personal. They need to become personal for all of us.

Another moment that I felt was really powerful is between Ms. Ofrah (Starr’s attorney) and Starr.
“Who said talking isn’t doing something? [Ms. Ofrah] says. “It’s more productive than silence. Remember what I told you about your voice?’
‘You said it’s my biggest weapon.’
‘And I mean that.’”

That’s another one of my favorites (Is it ok for an author to like something they wrote? Haha.) I hope that more people realize just how powerful their voices are, especially in our current political climate. Fighting is not always about violence; sometimes it’s about speaking out. Our voices can change things.

This story is fiction, and yet, it is a real look into casual racism, blatant racism, and both sides of the police equation (Starr’s uncle is also a policeman)—and this is just the tip of the iceberg. In many ways, Starr’s story is not fiction. It is the story of every black person who has been a witness to injustice, time and time again.

My ultimate hope is that it will help people realize that empathy is stronger than sympathy.

Angie Thomas will serve as a panelist on the “Rising Stars in Young Adult” discussion at the Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, August 19 at 12 p.m. in the Galloway Sanctuary.

Three-Book Circus: Erica Recommends 3 Fantasy Picks

Okay guys, I’ve had some books on the brain lately, and if you don’t already know about them, then you should. They are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye, and Caraval by Stephanie Garber. If you’ve ever talked to me at Lemuria, then I have probably told you to read The Night Circusand if you took that advice, then you really need to know about The Crown’s Game and Caraval.

            “You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.

You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”

― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

night circus

The Night Circus is hands down one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. With a story that travels between New York and England and everywhere in between, it twists and turns with a nonlinear time line that will keep the reader guessing about what is to come, and what is even real. There is a dark challenge that is being played out in the beautiful black and white tents of Le Cirque des Rêves, unbeknownst to the audience—and most of the cast. Celia and Marco are tangled in a game that neither of them quite knows the rules, let alone how to win. As they play this dangerous game of illustrious illusions, the web of those affected reaches further than they can possibly imagine and there will be consequences. Morgenstern spins a story of bowler hats, charmed umbrellas, boys reading in apple trees, and a garden made of ice. In this nocturnal world of black and white, you will find the most vivid and colorful characters and writing.


“For the winner of the game, there would be unimaginable power.

For the defeated, desolate oblivion.

The Crown’s Game was not one to lose.”

― Evelyn Skye, The Crown’s Game

crown's game

The Crown’s Game was pitched to me as being like The Night Circus, but initially I was skeptical. I had yet to find a book that I would have put in the same category as The Night Circus, but indeed this book is. Set in a fantastical Imperial Russia full of rich historic details (thanks to Skye’s degree in Slavic language and her love for Russian history), the book presents a dark and beautiful world. Russia is trapped between the Ottomans on one side and the Kazakhs on the other, so the tsar has only one option: to initiate the Crown’s Game, where the only two enchanters will duel for the position of Imperial Enchanter, protector and adviser to the tsar. This dangerous game traps Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha. As the story is spun, these characters must navigate tense political situations, love, loss, and betrayal with the knowledge that they will have to die if either of the others wins. Skye’s beautiful imagery and writing brings the magic right off the page. The Crown’s Game is full of sparkling magic with a healthy dose of dark Russian folklore. Read it now so that you will be ready for the sequel that comes out in May 2017.


“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”

― Stephanie Garber, Caravel


Caraval, which comes out today (Tuesday, January 31) has been sitting on the advance reading copy shelf, just begging me to read it for months. So, last week as I was procrastinating reading other books, I started Caraval. I finished in less than twenty-four hours (this includes the 8 hours of work). I knew within the first 40 pages that I was going to love it. The Caraval is not only a once-a-year performance, but also a dream that Scarlett has been dreaming since her Grandmother told her and her sister, Tella, about it when they were children. Now seeing the Caraval is suddenly an option, and a dangerous one at that. Will seeing the Caraval be the escape they have been looking for from their abusive father, or will it just be giving themselves over to another dangerous and powerful man? With the help of a mysterious sailor that seems to have secret motives, Scarlett enters into the magical world of the Caraval. You can either watch or play, but remember that they will try to make you believe it is real, although it is just a game. Garber spins a story that drags you in with the first page and doesn’t let go through all the twist and turns, betrayals and alliances. You will not rest until you reach the very end. Keep your eyes out January 2017.

The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern was Lemuria’s September 2011 First Editions Club selection. A signed first edition of the book can be found here.

‘The Thousandth Floor’ by Katherine McGee

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGthousandth-flooree is an impressive debut that I’m excited to see be made into a series.

When I read the prologue, I was immediately hooked. It starts out with a dazzling description of a night scene in 22nd century Manhattan that gets shockingly interrupted when a beautiful, unnamed girl falls to her death from the thousandth floor of a building. The writing truly gave me chills. It then goes back to a month or two beforehand and introduces the five main characters with each chapter shifting perspectives between each person. Normally, I’m wary of this format because it often makes things more confusing for the reader and doesn’t add much to the overall story, but in this case, I was surprised by how well it worked. Each character was so interesting that I frequently found myself thinking how they all deserved their own individual books. I never found myself disliking any particular character since they were all so well-defined and relatable, almost heartbreakingly so in the case of the “villain.”

The concept of the thousand-floor tower was especially fascinating as well because it was used as a physical representation of the social status of each character. The higher the floor, the more wealthy and luxurious the person, and the book follows people from a variety of different floors, which makes it all the more interesting. Unrequited love, secrets, scandal, addiction, heartbreak, and romance are all found in abundance in The Thousandth Floor. There were times when the plot twists were so surprising and unpredictable that I would audibly gasp while I was reading.


Some of the language might be considered strong, so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone younger than 14, but other than that, I would give this book my complete and total endorsement. The Thousandth Floor is magnificent and glittering from start to finish, and the finale is a heart-pounding climax that you’ll never see coming.

Gifting the Perfect Book: For Lovers of the Fantastical

The Christmas season has officially begun!


It’s time to start picking out those perfect bookish gifts for the special people in your life, and Lemuria is here to help!


To kick off the recommendations, I’ve got a fantastic series that you can give to any picky teenager or adult with a love of the magical.

Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite authors in the Young Adult genre, and her Grisha trilogy takes the cake as THE fantasy series that I just can’t get enough of.


shadow-and-boneThe first book in the Grisha trilogy is Shadow and Bone, which introduces you to Bardugo’s dark and beautifully-developed world. The country of Ravka, which is reminiscent of Imperial Russia, is split in two by an expanse of darkness called the Shadow Fold. Monsters threaten anyone trying to make it across to the other side. When Alina Starkov, a humble cartographer for the Ravkan army, travels across the Shadow Fold, her best friend is attacked and injured, forcing Alina to release a power she didn’t know she had. Alina is revealed to be a Grisha. Grisha can control certain elements, heal, or even stop a person’s heart, but Alina’s ability is rare, even in the Grisha world. She is taken to train with the rest of the Grisha under the mysterious Darkling. There she learns the secrets of this elite world and what part she plays in it.

The Grisha trilogy—Shadow and BoneSiege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising—tell an epic, compelling tale of love and adventure that will have you binging the whole series.

six-of-crowsBardugo’s other series, the Six of Crows duology, is also set in the Grisha world, but it centers around a new cast of characters in the trade city of Ketterdam. Six of Crowsfollows six outcasts as they try to pull off a massive heist. There’s Kaz—the ringleader who has a knack for picking locks; Inej—the silent spy known as the Wraith; Jesper—a sharpshooter with a gambling problem; Nina—a Grisha Heartrender trying to survive the slums; Matthias—a convict who wants revenge; and Wylan—a runaway with a privileged past. Each member has something to gain if they can pull off the heist, but they will have to keep from killing each other first.

The duology (Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom) is action-packed and takes turns telling the story from all six points of view. You won’t be able to put these books down!

You don’t have to read the Grisha trilogy before the Six of Crowsbooks, but it does help to already know about the world before you dive in. Plus, there are some fun Easter eggs for those who have read the original books.

I have to say that Bardugo is amazing at world building. She creates a very intricate culture for each country you travel to in the series, including customs, languages, food, etc. I enjoyed reading about the Russian-like Ravka, but I especially loved getting to explore the other countries in the Six of Crows duology. Bardugo’s use of all the senses and even how she adds in slang for certain cultures makes you feel like these places really do exist.

crooked-kingdomBut what I love about Bardugo’s books the most are her diverse cast of characters. She creates complex, flawed characters that draw you in. From the mysterious and swoon-worthy Darkling to the criminals in Six of Crows, you can’t help but fall in love with each of them.

I recommend Leigh Bardugo’s books for any young adult reader (young and old) that enjoys fantasy and adventure with some romance. I must also mention that the cover art for these books is GORGEOUS! The Six of Crows duology also has some beautiful black- and red-tinted pages. A great addition to any bookshelf!

BONUS: Here’s a picture of me getting to meet Leigh Bardugo in Austin, TX this October! 😀


Her Hardest Hue to Hold: ‘The Gold Seer Trilogy’ by Rae Carson

like-a-river-gloriousI’ve been in a reading funk for a little bit. Yep, it even happens to us booksellers. I just couldn’t get into any of the books I was picking up lately. So, I did what I always do to get out of said “funk”…I went to our young adult section and asked Clara to just go nuts and hand me books. Because, hey…..that section is just plain fun. Sure enough, she handed me an advance copy of the second book in Rae Carson’s The Gold Seer Trilogy, Like A River Glorious! I read the first book in the trilogy when it came out last September and loved it, so I was pretty excited to get back into the world that Carson has created.

walk-on-earth-a-strangerThe Gold Seer Trilogy begins with the first book, Walk on Earth a Stranger, which was long-listed for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature last year. I’m just going to write an overview of both books, because I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t even started the series. Which, you obviously should. Like, now.

This series is very much historical fiction, as it is set during the Gold Rush-era in America; but, in true Carson form, there is also magic throughout. Lee Westfall, the protagonist, has a strong, loving family. She has a home that she loves and a loyal longtime friend, Jefferson—who might want to be something more than friends. She also has a secret which only her family, including her awful uncle, knows: she can sense gold in the world around her…small nuggets in a stream, veins deep within the earth, even gold dust under her fingernails.

And y’all….she is a badass. She basically loses everything due to her special ability and her terrifying uncle. She begins a very long and hard journey westward to California disguised as a boy to not only hide from her uncle, but also to keep herself safe from others and to be seen as an equal to all other traveling men. Lee swears to herself that she will never marry, because then she and anything she does will become the property of her husband. Jefferson heads west as well to get away from his own abusive home life and the two meet up in Missouri. On their journey, they face sickness and exhaustion, greedy gold seekers sent by Lee’s uncle, and stampedes of buffalo. Once in California, Lee and Jefferson finally have a new group of people to call their family and with Lee’s ability, they set up their homestead on plots of land rich with gold. But, with gold….comes more trouble.


Carson does such a great job balancing the magic with all of the historical aspects. She also makes Lee Westfall an awesome, strong female lead. This is a great series for girls ages 14 and up.  If you haven’t read any Rae Carson, go to Lemuria, find me (I’m usually at the front desk) and then treat yourself to about three or four of her books. This is Carson’s second book series, her first is The Girl of Fire and Thorns series. READ IT. It is awesome as well.

Happy Reading!

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