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Book Reviews by Author

Book Reviews by Author


Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi

  • Half of a Yellow Sun — A powerful novel of the Nigerian civil war of the 1960s.
  • Purple Hibiscus — A Nigerian girl and her brother taste freedom when visiting their aunt and find it more difficult to submit to life with their controlling, fanatically religious father.

Anderson, Laurie Halse Speak — YA/coming of age novel;  a high school freshman is ostracized by her schoolmates after calling the police to the scene of a teen party. This novel deals with the effects of sexual assault.

Ayarbe, Heidi Freeze Frame — YA novel;  15-year-old film buff is devastated when he accidentally shoots and kills his best friend.


Bahr, Howard The Black Flower — Literary historical novel set at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee near the end of the U.S. Civil War.

Bantwal, Shobhan The Sari Shop Widow — A young Indian-American widow struggles to save her family business from bankruptcy and finds romance and passion.

Beah, Ishmael A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier — A former child soldier from Sierra Leone shares his experiences in this exceptionally vivid memoir.

Blundell, Judy What I Saw and How I Lied — YA historical mystery; a 16-year-old girl welcomes her stepfather home after World War II, but she later learns he is harboring dark secrets.

Bonfigli, Barbara Cafe Tempest — A theater producer travels to a beautiful Greek island.

Boyne, John The Boy in the Striped Pajamas — YA historical novel set in Germany during the Holocaust. This post includes a movie review.

Bradley, Alan The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie — “Cozy” murder mystery set in post-World War II England. Precocious 11-year-old Flavia DeLuce has a passion for chemistry and a fascination with poisons; this helps her solve a murder.

Brinkman, Kiara Up High in the Trees — A quirky, sensitive 8-year-old boy, recovering from the loss of his mother, tells his story in poetic stream-of-consciousness style.

Brooks, Geraldine

  • March — Historical fiction; the author imagined the life of Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, while he was serving as a chaplain in the War Between the States.
  • Nine Parts of Desire — Nonfiction; explores the lives of women in the Muslim world.

Brown, Jennifer The Hate List — YA/coming of age novel; a bright, sensitive teen girl faces guilt and blame after her boyfriend shoots many of their classmates; this is a unique perspective on school shootings.

Brown, Linda Beatrice Black Angels –YA historical novel set in North Carolina during the War Between the States; a 12-year-old boy escapes from slavery.

Buchanan, Cathy Marie The Day the Falls Stood Still — Historical novel set on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls during World War I; it is a love story touching on many themes, including post-traumatic stress and the environmental consequences of industrialization.

Burd, Nick The Vast Fields of Ordinary — YA/coming of age novel about a gay teen.

Burkhart, Lorene Sick of Doctors? Do Something About It — Nonfiction; when dealing with doctors, educate yourself and become your own advocate.

Busfield, Andrea Born Under a Million Shadows — A story of 21st century Afghanistan, in the midst of continued civil war and reconstruction, narrated by 11-year-old Fawad, who is funny, perceptive, and unforgettable.


Caletti, Deb

  • Honey, Baby, Sweetheart — YA/coming of age novel about a 16-year-old girl attracted to a “bad boy”; it explores coping with parental divorce and what genuine love really is.
  • The Nature of Jade — YA/coming of age novel  about a teen girl coping with an anxiety disorder and the disintegration of her parents’ marriage while experiencing her first love.
  • The Secret Life of Prince Charming — YA/coming of age novel about a 17-year-old girl seeking the truth about her estranged father and his relationship with the women in his life. It explores what healthy love is — and what it isn’t.
  • Wild Roses —  YA/coming of age novel about a smart, edgy 17-year-old girl coping with her stepfather’s meanness, arrogance and deepening mental illness while experiencing first love.

Campbell, Drusilla Blood Orange — Mystery/thriller; a couple solves the mystery behind their 7-year-old daughter’s sudden disappearance.

Cohen, Brian The Life O’Reilly — A smart, successful attorney takes on a pro bono case, on behalf of a young woman escaping from an abusive marriage, and is changes his life.

Cohen, Tish The Truth About Delilah Blue — YA novel; A 20-year-old aspiring artist copes with her father’s illness and faces painful truths about her childhood.

Collins, Suzanne The Hunger Games — YA dystopian fantasy; Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” meets Survivor.

Cunningham, Michael At Home at the End of the World — Literary fiction; childhood friends Bobby and Jonathan reconnect and start an unconventional family with Claire, a slightly older woman who becomes Bobby’s friend and lover.


Dallas, Sandra Whiter Than Snow — Historical novel; tragedy strikes a small Colorado mining town in the 1920s.

Davis, Heather The Clearing — Imaginative YA romance; a lonely teen meets a boy from another time.

Derfner, Joel Swish — Articulate, humorous memoir about a gay man’s search for a sense of identity and belonging.

Dessen, Sarah

  • Keeping the Moon — YA/coming of age novel;  a 15-year-old girl spends a summer with her eccentric aunt while her mother travels in Europe.
  • Someone Like You —  YA/coming of age novel; a 15-year-old girl faces conflict with her mother and her first romance while helping her best friend through an unexpected pregnancy.
  • The Truth About Forever — YA/coming of age novel; a teen girl comes to terms with the fact that she tries to be “perfect” as a way of coping with her father’s death, which she never truly had a chance to grieve.
  • This Lullaby –YA/coming of age novel about a teen girl who uses promiscuity to camouflage her fear of true intimacy.

Doerr, Bonnie Island Sting — YA/middle grade novel; an eco-mystery set in the Florida Keys.

Donnelly, Jennifer A Northern Light — YA historical novel; a young woman struggles to choose between her duty to her family, her desire for love, and her dream of becoming a writer.


Elkeles, Simone Perfect Chemistry — YA novel; high school romance between a popular girl from an affluent family and a Latino “bad boy” who runs with gangs.

Ellsworth, Loretta In a Heartbeat — YA novel; a teen girl gets a second chance at life through a heart donation as her donor enters the afterlife.

Erskine, Kathryn Mockingbird — Middle grade/YA novel; a pre-teen with Asperger’s strives to help herself and her father heal after her brother dies in a school shooting.

Essex, Karen Dracula in Love — This retelling of Dracula blends Bram Stoker’s classic with Celtic folkore; it also explores mistreatment of women in Victorian England.


Fantaskey, Beth Jekel Loves Hyde — YA paranormal fantasy; a teen girl and a mysterious boy collaborate on an unusual science project inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Farooki, Roopa Half Life — A woman impulsively abandons her English husband and returns to her native Singapore, finally facing painful secrets from her past.

Fei, Deanna A Thread of Sky — A Chinese-American widow tries to reconnect with her mother, sister, and three daughters through a tour of their homeland.

Fitzpatrick, Becca Hush, Hush — YA paranormal fantasy; a teen girl falls in love with a fallen angel.

Flynn, Michael Eifelheim — Historical fiction/science fiction; extraterrestrial visitors land near a medieval German village.

Foer, Jonathan Safran Everything is Illuminated — A young Jewish man from the United States visits Ukraine to find the woman who he believes may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. This post includes a movie review.

Forman, Gayle If I Stay — A 17-year-old girl loses her family in a car crash and lies in a coma. Standing outside her body, she realizes she can choose whether to die or stay alive.

Frank, Lucy The Homeschool Liberation League —  A 13-year-old girl walks away from school and lobbies her parents to allow her to unschool, following her own interests and passions.

Franklin, Ariana Mistress of the Art of Death — Historical mystery; a female doctor arrives in 12th century Cambridge, England to discover the truth about the abduction and murder of local children.


Gelman, Rita Golden, Female Nomad and Friends — Essays and recipes by people who have traveled and lived around the world.

Glass, Linzi The Year the Gypsies Came — YA historical novel set in South Africa during Apartheid; it touches on a variety of topics, including marital problems, racism, and child abuse.

Going, K.L. Saint Iggy —  YA novel; a teen boy deals with his parents’ addiction along with poverty and persistent academic failure. What will it take to change everyone’s mind about him? What if he does something heroic?

Gortner, C.W. The Last Queen — Historical novel about Juana of Castile, sometimes known as Juana la Loca, Juana the Mad.

Gudenkauf, Heather The Weight of Silence — Two little girls vanish from their homes on a summer morning, unraveling many years worth of family secrets.


Hardy, Paul Nothing Pink — YA/Coming of Age novel about a gay teen.

Harris, Charlaine

Harris, Paul The Secret Keeper — Mystery/thriller; a journalist returns to Sierra Leone after the civil war to discover the truth behind his former lover’s murder.

Hermes, Myrlin The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet –This historical novel, inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, features a bisexual love triangle.

Hijuelos, Oscar Dark Dude — YA/coming of age novel; in the 1960s, a Cuban American boy escapes his life in Harlem and tries to come to terms with his family and his ethnic identity.

Hooper, Jim A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying with the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969 –A detailed and rich study of a group of men who served in the U.S. war in Vietnam; it delves into the experience of war and the psychology of soldiers in combat as well as the events that unfolded.

Hrabal, Bohimil I Served the King of England — Historical novel set in Czechoslovakia; follows the fortunes of an ambitious waiter through World War II and the rise of Communism.

Hudson, David L. Jr. The Handy Law Reference Book — Nonfiction; overview of the U.S. constitution and legal system.


Ibbotson, Eva A Song for Summer — Historical novel set in England and Austria during World War II; it offers gentle humor and colorful, eccentric characters.


James, Emmett Admit One: My Life in Film — Quirky, humorous memoir about a young man who grew up a movie buff in a blue collar English community and went on to work in the American film industry.

James, Syrie Dracula, My Love — This retelling of Dracula from Mina’s point of view adds a new dimension to the classic story.

Johnson, Steven Everything Bad is Good for You — Nonfiction; the author argues that popular media — video games, television, and movies — are actually expanding our intelligence.

Jones, Diana Wynne Dogsbody — Science fiction; Sirius, who inhabits the “dog star,” has been tried and convicted of a terrible crime. He banished to earth, to be born in the form of an ordinary dog.

Jones, Patrick The Tear Collector –YA paranormal fantasy about a teen girl who’s a vampire; instead of blood she thirsts for human tears.

Jordan, Hillary Mudbound — Historical novel about a young wife adjusting to life on a rural Mississippi farm in the late 1940s; it explores many issues, including the experiences of soldiers returning from World War II, racism, and alcoholism.


Kasischke, Laura The Life Before Her Eyes — Two 17-year-old girls, Diana and Maureen, are threatened by a school shooting, then the novel jumps ahead in time to Diana’s future as a wife and mother; it’s a complex, lyrical novel. This post includes a movie review.

Kellerman, Jesse Trouble — A medical student finds himself ensnared in a relationship with a dangerous woman after saving her life.

Kelly, Tara
Harmonic Feedback — YA/coming of age novel; a musically gifted teen with ADHD and mild Asperger’s experiences friendship and first love.

Klass, David You Don’t Know Me –A 14-year-old boy copes with high school and life with an abusive stepfather.

Korman, Gordan Schooled — A homeschooled boy from a hippie commune has his first experience in a public high school.

Kostova, Elizabeth The Historian — A 17-year-old girl travels through Europe with her father, learning of her parents’ quest to find Count Dracula and the fate of her missing mother.

Kring, Sandra Thank You for All Things —  A single mom takes her mother and her twins to her childhood home to say goodbye to her dying father; it offers beautiful, lyrical writing.


Lancaster, Craig 600 Hours of Edward — A 30-something man with Asperger’s and OCD explores new relationships and faces upheaval in his life.

Landau, Neil and Frederick, Matthew 101 Things I Learned in Film School — Nonfiction; this concise book delves into the nuts and bolts of filmmaking.

Larbalestier, Justine Liar — YA novel about a bi-racial teen in New York City who describes herself as a compulsive liar.

Latham, Irene Leaving Gee’s Bend — Historical novel for children; a 10-year-old girl lives in a family of sharecroppers, in Alabama, in 1932. She has to make a long walk, alone, to find a doctor who might save her mother’s life.

Laurens, Jennifer Heavenly — YA paranormal fantasy; an 18-year-old girl falls in love with the guardian angel sent to watch over her autistic sister; it explores some of the challenges faced by families with children on the autism spectrum.

Letts, Billie Where the Heart Is — A 17-year-old single mom, abandoned by her boyfriend, forms a family with her quirky friends and neighbors.

Levine, Anna Freefall —  YA novel; an 18-year-old Israeli girl enters compulsory military service; although she has other options; she shocks her family by signing on for direct combat.

Lindqvist, John Ajvide Let the Right One In — Paranormal horror; in urban Sweden, a lonely, bullied boy befriends a vampire; this novel offers vampires in their raw form, not morally correct ones who avoid devouring human blood and shimmer in the sunlight.


Malloy, Brian The Year of Ice — YA/coming of age novel; a 17-year-old boy, living in the Midwest in 1978, copes with the loss of his mother and secrets about his sexual orientation.

Maloney, Beth Alison Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD — Memoir of a single mother’s struggle to correctly diagnose and treat her son’s severe OCD; it flows like a good novel.

McCabe, Patrick The Butcher Boy — A beautifully written, grim novel about an Irish boy sliding into insanity.

McDonald, Abby Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots — YA/coming of age novel about a 17-year-old girl delving into the environmental movement, trying to find her social niche, and coping with her parents’ crumbling marriage.

McMann, Lisa Wake —  YA paranormal fantasy; a 17-year-old girl is cursed with the ability to enter other people’s dreams.

McNees, Kelly O’Connor The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott — Historical fiction; the author blends fact and fiction, imagining the author had a love affair before becoming a committed spinster.

Meminger, Neesha Shine Coconut Moon — An Indian-American teen longs to connect with her mother’s estranged traditional Sikh family; this novel touches on prejudice against Sikhs, who were mistaken for Muslims, in the wake of 9/11.

Misiroglu, Gina The Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents) Second Edition — A well-organized, colorful book of questions and answers on a variety of topics.

Mitchell, Shandi Under This Unbroken Sky — Historical fiction; Ukrainian immigrants struggle to survive on the Canadian prairie in the 1930s.

Muller, Marcia Cape Perdido — Mystery; ecologists struggle to save a Northern Californian coastal town from “water grabbers,” who would siphon their water and sell it; this stirs up a long-buried murder mystery.

Murakami, Haruki Kafka on the Shore — A precocious fifteen-year-old, who has renamed himself Kafka, runs away from home in this strange; surreal Japanese novel.

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert

  • Dairy Queen — YA novel/coming of age story; a teen girl runs her parents’ dairy farm while her father recuperates from a back injury.
  • The Off Season — YA novel/coming of age story; a teen girl struggles with first love and a heart-wrenching family crisis; sequel to Dairy Queen.


Nadol, Jen The Mark — A teen girl has the ability to see a mark on a person who is about to die. Does she have a responsibility to tell a person what she knows? Would it make a difference?


Orloff, Judith Emotional Freedom — Nonfiction; self-help book by psychiatrist and author who combines energy psychiatry and eclectic spirituality with psychological and medical approaches to therapy.


Page, Tim Parallel Play: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Asperger’s —  Humorous, eloquent memoir by a Pulitzer Prize winning music writer for The Washington Post.

Palahnuik, Chuck Choke — Twisted, darkly humorous novel about a sex addict who raises money for his mother’s nursing home by pretending to choke in restaurants.

Peters, Julie Anne

  • Keeping You a Secret — YA/coming of age novel; an exceptionally bright, accomplished 17-year-old girl copes with the weight of her mother’s expectations and her budding realization that she is a lesbian and is falling in love for the first time.
  • Luna — (guest review by Sarah) — YA/coming of age novel; 15-year-old girl supports her transgendered brother.

Picoult, Jodi House Rules — Popular fiction; an Aspergian teen is accused of murder.

Prensky, Marc Don’t Bother Me Mom — I’m Learning — Nonfiction;  the author makes a persuasive argument for the educational value of popular video games, especially role playing games.


Quick, Barbara

  • A Golden Web — YA/coming of age historical fiction; in 14th century Italy, a brilliant young woman strives to overcome narrow gender roles and superstition to fulfill her dream of going to medical school; this character was based on an actual historical figure.
  • Vivaldi’s Virgins — Historical fiction; a 14-year-old violinist, raised in a foundling home and music school, hones her musical gifts under the tutelage of Antonio Vivaldi.


El Rassi, Toufic Arab in America — Autobiographical graphic novel explores prejudice against Arab-Americans.

Rendell, Joanne Crossing Washington Square — Popular fiction; two college English professors debate the merits of teaching popular fiction as well as classics and cope with the vicissitudes of romance.

Reznick, Charlotte The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How To Transform Stress and Anxiety Into Joy and Success — Nonfiction/parenting & self-help; a clinical psychologist describes how to use guided imagery with children.

Richardson, Barbara K. Guest House — Absorbing character-driven novel about a middle-aged woman recreating her life and her relationship with a troubled, manipulative woman and her bright, perceptive son.

Rosoff, Meg What I Was — Coming of age novel about a boy living in an English boarding school and his relationship with a mysterious boy living alone on the coast; the writing in this novel is gorgeous.

Roy, Arundhati The God of Small Things –Literary fiction; a young woman reconnects with her twin brother and remembers their devastating childhood; this novel explores the injustices of the caste system, the aftereffects of British colonialism, and the communist movement in India.


Sanchez, Alex Bait — YA/coming of age novel; a 16-year-old boy struggles to control his anger and stay out of trouble while coping with a devastating history of abuse.

Satrapi, Marjane

  • Persepolis — Graphic novel exploring the author’s childhood in revolutionary Iran.
  • Persepolis II — Graphic novel exploring the author’s adolescence and young adulthood torn between her home country of Iran and the freedom of life in Western Europe.
  • Chicken With Plums –Graphic novel based on the life of the author’s great-uncle; an Iranian musician gives up on life after his tar is broken.

Scotch, Allison Winn Time of My Life — Popular fiction; a young wife and mother in a stagnant marriage goes back in time and has the chance to see what life could have been like if she’d stayed with her former boyfriend.

Scott, Carlton Glamour Girl from the Stars; Picture book; an alien girl travels to Earth to enter a beauty pageant.

Scott, Elizabeth The Unwritten Rule — YA/coming of age novel; a smart, sensitive teen is in love with her best friend’s boyfriend.

Seraji, Mahbod The Rooftops of Iran — Coming of age story and romance set in Iran during an oppressive Shah’s regime.

Shaw, Tucker Evangeline — YA novel a re-imagining of Longfellow’s “Evangeline” with a contemporary twist.

Smith, Alexander McCall Tea Time for the Traditionally Built — Cozy mystery; Precious Ramotswe tries to uncover the reason for a soccer team’s persistent losing streak — is someone being paid to throw the matches?

Stiefvater, Maggie Shiver — YA paranormal fantasy, a 17-year-old girl falls in love with a werewolf; it offers lyrical writing and enjoyable romance.

Stockett, Kathryn The Help — Historical novel; after graduating from Ole Miss and returning to her Jackson, Mississippi home, a young woman takes a closer look at a group of people she has always taken for granted: the black women who spend their lives doing domestic work and caring for white children.

Stork, Francesco X.

  • Marcello in the Real World –YA/coming of age novel; an Aspergian teen faces pressure from his father to get out into the “real world;” when he interns with his dad’s law firm, he learns more about the world — and about his father — than either of them had bargained for.
  • The Last Summer of the Death Warriors — YA/coming of age novel; an orphaned Latino teen helps a boy with cancer while coping with grief and forming plans for revenge.


Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Skim — Graphic novel; an Asian-Canadian teen struggles with depression and confusion.

Tashjian, Janet Multiple Choice — YA novel; A teen girl struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Techel, Barbara Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog — Picture book based on the moving real-life story of a disabled dachshund.

Trueman, Terry Inside Out — YA novel; a mentally ill teen is held hostage in a robbery; he struggles to separate his hallucinations from reality.



Vigilante, Danette The Trouble With Half a Moon — Middle Grade/YA novel; a 13-year-old girl struggles with grief and guilt after her little brother’s death.


Wallace, Jason Out of Shadows — Disturbing YA historical novel set in Zimbabwe, in the 1980s, after Robert Mugabwe’s rise to power.

Ward, Rachel Num8ers — A troubled London teen is cursed with a prophetic ability.

Waters, Sarah Fingersmith — Historical fiction; A young girl grows up in a den of thieves in Victorian London; her life changes when a con artist enlists her help in robbing an heiress of her inheritance.

Watson, Sasha Vidalia in Paris — YA novel; a teen girl studies art in Paris, glad to take a break from her needy mother and spend time with a “real” family; however things don’t turn out as she’s expected.

Werlin, Nancy Impossible — YA paranormal fantasy; a teen girl learns that all the women in her family have been put under an ancient curse; each of them, in turn, gives birth and goes insane.

Williams, Melissa Iggy the Iguana — Children’s chapter book about the ups and downs of 4th grade.

Willis, Connie Blackout — History students travel through time to observe the events that unfolded in England during World War II.

al-Windawi Thura Thura’s Diary: My Life in Wartime Iraq — YA nonfiction; journal of a young woman’s experiences during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Wiseman, Rosalind Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials — YA novel; a high school freshman girl tries to make a fresh start after enduring the conflict and drama of middle school “mean girls.”




Zarr, Sara Story of a Girl (guest review by Sarah) — YA/coming of age novel; a teen girl is estranged from her father after being caught in a premature sexual experience.

Updated 10/8/10

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