Foreword Reviews

The Best YA Titles of Winter 2016


Teens travel through time, the lair of the devil, and their own haunted memories in these fascinating selections from our Winter 2016 young adult feature. One teen is enmeshed in a Parisian art mystery; another must save a vulnerable child. Maps of great literary works, and a quirky approach to history and science, are also included among these few diverse books.

The Dining & Social Club for Time Travellers

Divine Intervention, Book One

Book Cover
Elyse Kishimoto
Doug Feaver, illustrator
Green Jelly Bean Press
Softcover $12.95 (249pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

After Louisa Sparks’s parents die in a car accident, she goes to live with her aloof Grandpa George in his large house in the south of France. Though Louisa often wishes for the moment of her parents’ departure back, it is not until she finds her grandfather’s mysterious old timepiece that she finds the power—and heavy responsibility—to change the fates of those around her. From there, Louisa is quickly whisked into the world of an adventuresome secret society, with dark dangers of its own. For members of the Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers are disappearing, and it is up to Louisa to find out what is happening before it is too late.

Divine Intervention, the first in the Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers series, features a gorgeous cover and delightful illustrations throughout. Written in an earnest, amusing style, the novel delivers a tale of friendship, family, and fate that is sure to please, offering a refreshing new take on the rules and consequences of time traveling.

STEPHANIE BUCKLIN (November 27, 2015)

The Devil’s Dreamcatcher

Book Cover
Donna Hosie
Holiday House
Hardcover $16.95 (261pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

In this gripping sequel to the award-winning, bestselling The Devil’s Intern, 16-year-old Medusa Pallister applies for and receives an internship with the Devil. But it’s not all about filing papers and fetching coffee for the most infamous boss in the underworld—Medusa is on a mission to solve a mystery that she is sure only Mitchell Johnson, her enigmatic new coworker, can crack. But when Hell goes into lockdown after the theft of a powerful, apocalyptic-inducing dreamcatcher, Medusa is plunged into an adventure that will lead her down an entirely different path, one that reveals long-held secrets and revelations Medusa could never have imagined. Funny, snarky, and clever, and full of twists and turns, The Devil’s Dreamcatcher is sure to appeal to those who love their action delivered with a strong dose of humor. Hosie’s voice shines throughout, with a work that more than lives up to the hype generated by her first crowd-pleasing novel.

STEPHANIE BUCKLIN (November 27, 2015)

Breath to Breath

Book Cover
Craig Lew
Relish Media
Hardcover $19.95 (456pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

17-year-old William lives in a world full of secrets, secrets that follow him even when he moves cross-country to live with the father he barely knows. When William meets an abused four-year-old boy, he learns of the child’s devastating past, one that calls forth a torrent of his own memories.

Told in lyrical verse, Breath to Breath is a provocative, challenging read about a young man struggling for both revenge and redemption in a world laced with evil. From the haunting, disturbing opening, all the way to the riveting climax, Lew delivers a tale of a boy on the brink of both discovery and destruction, whose poetic voice shines forth from inner darkness. The experimental style is highly readable, though the topics covered, including child sexual abuse, can sometimes be unsettling. But the focus of the novel stays mostly on William’s discovery of and response to his trials, without lingering unnecessarily on the disturbing details of his past.

STEPHANIE BUCKLIN (November 27, 2015)

A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality

From Alchemy to Avatars

Book Cover
Maria Birmingham
Josh Holinaty, illustrator
Owlkids Books
Hardcover $16.95 (48pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

In this whimsical, quirky work, Maria Birmingham delivers a humorous history of the various ways people have tried to live forever. From the work of elixir-making alchemists to the concoction of gold, pearl, and coral that scientist Roger Bacon swore by, this book explores the fascinating and surprising history of humanity’s attempts to achieve immortality. The book covers beliefs and practices from a variety of cultures and time periods, including tales of a Chinese emperor traveling to an island in search of a mythical fruit that could raise the dead, and of the twenty-first-century president of Kazakhstan who called on his scientists to create an elixir of life—resulting in a yogurt-based drink. Humorous and engaging, A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality is broken up into pithy, bite-sized chunks accompanied by whimsical illustrations that perfectly complement its entertaining content. The book also includes an index, map, and easy-to-read text boxes, with sections clearly labeled. A must-read for anyone interested in science, magic, and everything in between.

STEPHANIE BUCKLIN (November 27, 2015)


A Literary Atlas

Book Cover
Andrew DeGraff
Daniel Harmon
Zest Books
Hardcover $24.99 (160pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Gorgeously illustrated, Plotted: A Literary Atlas is a beautiful work featuring literary maps of nineteen beloved works of literature, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, and more. Each map is a detailed work of a magical fictional landscape, taken from diverse periods in history and each infused with DeGraff’s unique perspective on the world. A pithy introduction precedes every section, giving context and background for the world that follows. Little details bring the maps to life, and each page offers up more and more secrets on each re-viewing. The style of the maps also varies widely to match the illustrator’s interpretation of the works, providing a different and riveting way of viewing the given stories.

The maps in Plotted bring each story to life in a way that only visual representation—put together by a rich imagination—could, and will, inspire you to return to these literary classics to rediscover their gorgeous, multidimensional worlds. A must-have addition for any book-lover’s library.

STEPHANIE BUCKLIN (November 27, 2015)

Paris, Modigliani & Me

Book Cover
Jacqueline Kolosov
Luminis Books
Softcover $14.95 (300pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Eighteen-year-old Julie finds love, mystery, and adventure when she moves to Paris the summer after graduation to take a job as a nanny. Still recovering from her painful rejection from the Art Institute of Chicago, Julie soon becomes enmeshed in the mystery of a new Modigliani painting that is acquired by a Parisian art gallery. Is the heralded painting real or forged, and what can the mystery teach her about her own path?

This charming coming-of-age story follows the heartwarming, sweet tale of a girl on the cusp of finding herself, along the way navigating new romances, old secrets, and a passion for beautiful art. Jacqueline Kolosov takes care with her characters, bringing them to emotional depths and heights as they not only seek to solve a mystery, but to discover the shifting bonds of family that unite them. A great choice for anyone looking to get swept away in the romance of the city of love, from an author who is an expert in her craft.

STEPHANIE BUCKLIN (November 27, 2015)

Stephanie Bucklin

Load Next Feature