Middle Grade & Young Adult Novel Reviews


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are my own.

A week or so ago I shared a round-up of the picture books I have to review. I meant to do these books that same week but life got in the way. So I am continuing with some middle grade and young adult novels for gift ideas. I am focusing on the four gift idea and the fourth gift being something to read! Here are some ideas for something to read. The first two are middle grade books for ages 8 to 12 and the last two are young adult books usually 14+. 

Our first book is a graphic novel. It is the second in a series. It is Nico Bravo and the Cellar Dwellers by Mike Cavallaro. Now I struggled to read this book. I am not in love with graphic novels and this one was just not my cup of tea. However that does not mean kids wouldn't love it. Cavallaro remakes the ancient myths and legends in this series. They were a bit farfetched for me.

From the Publisher:

Got a problem? The seasoned staff at Vulcan's Celestial Supply Shop―a kid named Nico Bravo, a sphinx named Lula, and a unicorn named Buck―have got just the thing for you in their inventory of magical merchandise.

Nico’s enemy is finally revealed: Ahriman, God of Evil! Ahriman is fed up with Nico thwarting all his heinous plans and sends a shapeshifter named Orcus to Vulcan’s Celestial Supply Shop on a covert mission to take Nico and his crew down.

Orcus mistakenly unleashes a dangerous ‘Misery’ from the God of Misfortune’s pouch, threatening everyone in the Supply Shop, but also discovers the missing link between Nico, the Unicorn Wars, and Reality itself! What will happen to Nico and his friends when all their troubles converge in a desperate battle for the fate of the Universe?

This book will be perfect for those kids who like adventure but don't love reading traditional books. It has some fantasy and pulls in the characters from famous myths. It is not my genre and I just didn't enjoy it much. The illustrations are fun and the reading is fine. 

Our second middle grades novel is Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney. Annie has an incredible memory and notices everything and she loves to make lists. This story consists of Annie's lists as well as some narrative of what is happening in Annie's life and her thoughts. Annie's family is moving from Brooklyn to Clover Gap, New York. It is a small town out in the country. Annie thinks the move is her fault and her older brother is blaming her and not talking to her. In the story she deals with switching schools and making new friends as well as having to say goodbye to old ones. All she wants to do is be a normal kid. I love how the story is told with her lists. I have a child who is a list maker as well but not to the extent of Annie. 

From the Publisher:

Annie's a shy fifth grader with an incredible memory and a love of making lists. It helps her keep track of things when they can seem a little out of control, like her family, her friends, and her life in a new place.

Annie has:
1. An incredible memory (really, it's almost photographic) that can get her in trouble.
2. A brother who is mad at her because he thinks she is the reason they had to move to Clover Gap, population 8,432.
4. A best friend who she is (almost) certain will always be her best friend.
5. New classmates, some of whom are nicer than others.
6. A rocky start finding her place in her new home.

From the author of The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School, Annie's Life in Lists finds that even amid the chaos of everyday life, it's important to put things in order.

This book is relatable for kids and every day life. It is especially for kids who have changed schools, moved to a new town or dealt with a family upheaval. There are some interesting twists and turns in the story but it is truly about every day life for a shy fifth grader. It is well written and I really enjoyed it. It is also multicultural. Annie's friends include a Jewish girl, a Black girl (in the small town) as well as other kids.

If you would like to check out some other middle grade book reviews, be sure to read mine here.


The first of our young adult books is Now & When by Sara Bennett Wealer. This book is recommended for ages 12+. Skylar seems to have a wonderful life. She is dating the perfect guy and has two best friends. While she does have an archenemy, Truman Alexander, life is still good until her phone starts to show her a reunion website and Instagram account both from the future and it shows her married to Truman Alexander! She wants to change that fast and starts to do things to make sure it doesn't happen but with every change her life seems worse. Plus she is getting to see a different side of Truman. Now her present day life seems even more messed up and her future is worse. How is it possible?

From the Publisher:

There's something about Truman Alexander that Skyler Finch finds incredibly annoying. Actually, several things: his voice (grating), his arrogance (total know-it-all), his debate-team obsession (eyeroll), and his preppy vibe (does he iron his shorts?). She does her best to avoid him and focus on the important stuff: friends, school, and her boyfriend, Eli. His promposal was perfect--just like he is--and the future is looking bright. Or is it?

For some unexplainable reason, Skylar's phone is sending her notifications from the future . . . a future in which, to her horror, she appears to be with Truman. As in, romantically. As in, Skyler cannot let that happen.

But trying to change the future means messing up the present, and what Skyler sees keeps shifting. Classmates disappear and reappear, swap partners and futures. Turns out there are no actions without reactions, and life doesn't come with a road map. But sometimes the wandering leads you exactly where you need to be, and people--like glitchy phones--are full of surprises.

I found this story interesting and it pulled me in. It made me want to keep reading to find out what would happen next both in the present as well on the future sites. It also made me think a lot about how the present day activity can change the future. It is about relationships--both romantic and friendships. It also pushes one to think about why we do certain things. Is it to help a friend or is it to help ourselves? It is a fun book with such interesting twists that are unexpected. 

Our final book for today is Again Again by E. Lockhart. This book is recommended for ages 14+. We meet Adelaide who is struggling this summer. She has just had her heart broken as well as major family issues--her younger brother is recovering from a drug addiction. The story keeps inserting different scenarios of how it plays out. I will admit I found it a bit hard to read. Since these different scenarios are in bold print I stopped reading them and started enjoying the book more. The book is divided into four parts. In the first and second parts the story is told with the universes changing back and forth and in the third and fourth parts are the story told in different universes with a few extra universes built in.  

From the Publisher:

This twisty novel from the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud asks: What if there were infinite universes and infinite ways to fall in love?

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times--while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

This book has some hard concepts because of the different universes. There are so many stories built into it yet they are happening with the same characters. The characters include a lesbian and a Black teenager. The issues Adelaide is dealing with are real and hard situations from drug abuse and first sexual experiences plus family problems. Her life is lonely yet filled with relationships. In this book it makes you question what if things were different. It is interesting but definitely not for too young of a reader because the concepts are raw and tough to grasp.

For more young adult recommendations read my reviews here

I hope you will check out these books. Happy holiday shopping!!