Young Adult Books For Book Club

by Ashley Owens

Happy almost Friday fellow bookworms! I am following through on a promise to make a blog post a series… can you believe?!

In a recent post, I discussed some Adult Fiction recommendations for book clubs. Today I’d like to continue the book club recommendations by telling you about some YA books I think would be great picks for a book club!
The great thing about YA is that it’s often more accessible and readable for people because the main characters are younger. This is really important in book clubs, because not everyone reads avidly, so it’s a great way to get someone back into the “flow” of reading, or pique their interest in books & book clubs for the first time ever.


Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Seanz

There’s no way I was going to make a list of great ya books and not include this one – it’s literally my favorite ya book of all-time… I read it once a year.
Precious cinnamon rolls Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana are both high-school-aged Mexican-American boys who aren’t very good at making friends. Then they find each other at the community pool one summer, and as they come of age together they also develop a beautiful relationship.
Both of these boys are absolutely precious and their story is GORGEOUS. They both have this tendency to think the worst of themselves and be inside their own heads too much, though Ari to a greater extent. There’s so much to parse out and discuss about their family relationships, the discovery of their identities, culture, and the feelings they have. Seriously, I get emotional every time I read this book and find something new to love about this it.

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

It’s queer. It’s a retelling of Beowulf. It’s got themes of feminism. It was clearly written for me specifically.

This novel has wells upon wells of interesting plot points, character choices, and social commentary to draw on for a book club discussion. It will keep you guessing and interested, and I guarantee everyone will be asking each other about their interpretations of the book’s series of events. It’s a wild ride of a book, and one written unlike most other ya novels out there. If you choose this book for your book club, please talk about the author’s use of language, because it is exquisite!

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Shocking – a Gayle Forman book on another YA list of mine! I will never forget my experience reading this book; I literally cried when I finished it because I was sad it was over and knew I’d never read another like it. It changed my life.
While the title of this book suggest it’s about one day only, the main character’s story actually takes place over the course of a whole year. After meeting Willem in France and spending an adventurous day together, Allison goes home to the US and finds herself dissatisfied with her life and herself. She embarks on a serious journey of change and self-discovery, and it’s honestly inspiring.
I wasn’t in a book club at the time I read this, but I found myself wanting to talk about the topics this book brought up with anyone I could. It really made me think about finding “value” in life and how/when we know we’re in love, and so many other deep thoughts & feelings. These kinds of topics lend themselves super well to a book club.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

This book is me; it is my heart and soul. It’s like the author was speaking to/thinking of me directly as she wrote the story.
It’s a hard-hitting YA book about a girl whose brother rapes her best friend, leaving her to face some difficult realities, made all the more difficult by the fact that she is a survivor of sexual assault herself. It has queer representation in it, which is outstanding. And the writing itself is thoughtful but doesn’t shy away from the difficult. There’s so much empathy and care in the story, it’s absolutely breathtaking. I 100% recommend everyone read it, even if you don’t read it for book club specifically.

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Really any Adam Silvera book could be on this list. Just know that if you choose to pick one of his books up, you absolutely will cry during your reading of it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I do believe this book has been on the NY Times bestseller list for over a year and a half now… which has to be a record.
This is such an important book, and handles the topic of the Black Lives Matters movement with intelligence, care, and passion. It’s also an accessible reading experience that remains honest, because the author can speak about it with honesty and from a place of experience.
It’s well written and makes for some deep conversation. Deep and important.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

It would appear that this book has flown completely under the radar; I have no idea why more people aren’t reading it!
In this novel, Minnow Bly is arrested for attempted murder after escaping from a religious cult. Oh, and she has no hands.
This is an absolutely original and riveting story. It’s surprisingly large, but doesn’t read that way. Seeing things through Minnow’s point of view really forces readers to be sympathetic and open. Her journey and the way she learns about what the world is really like is absolutely fascinating.


Check out more by Sparky here: http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/

Road Trip Reading Recommendations

By Ashley Owens

‘Tis the season to go traveling!

Guess who finally took a vacation! That’s right – my partner, our little one, and I went up to the Washington mountains in the Pacific Northwest for over a week! We went to the beach, did some book shopping, hit a couple of breweries, went hiking multiple times, and also just relaxed & did nothing in the family house! My daughter discovered her love of the beach, and macaroni & cheese. It was a beautiful time.

Because I’m a bookworm, and also because I’m hecka extra, I packed 6 books AND my kindle. We drove up to Washington from California – a 12 hour drive in total – but split it over 2 days and stayed in Oregon on our way there and back. So I feel like I was totally justified in bringing all of those books! That’s a lot of time in the car! And that doesn’t even include all of our smaller trips when we were actually in Washington. Plus I’m a mood reader, so I like to have many options available to me while I’m away to make sure I have a good time while I’m reading.

This got me thinking though, about which books may be more conducive to road trip reading. So without further ado, here are some road trip reading recommendations!

Penryn and the End of Days series by Susan Ee

I have definitive proof that this trilogy is very much readable on a road trip; my best friend read ALL 3 BOOKS when we were driving home from Washington to California (yes, I clearly make this trip a lot). They’re short, gripping, full of action, all-consuming, and clearly totally addicting. And lots of the plot takes place on the road… albeit walking & hiking through a post-apocalyptic world, but still!

This series follows Penryn Young, a 17-year-old San Franciscan, as she tries to navigate the world that has suddenly come apart around her as a result of fallen angels feuding with each other. She’s a badass heroine, who also happens to be a super loyal older sister and falls (reluctantly) for one of the afore-mention fallen angels, named Raffe.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This is another book that I can vouch for it’s road trip readability, as I read it on a road trip to Lake Tahoe in May! 2 months later and I am literally still thinking about this book every damn day. It’s a super cute, fun, quick read that still manages to hit you in the feels. The main characters talk like real people – something I feel like never happens in YA or NA books – which makes it relatable as heck. I laughed, I cried, what a time I had.

This book is about Alex and Henry, the first son of the US and the Prince of England respectively, in a sort of alternate reality where a female is the President of America. That’s right – it’s gay! (are you shocked) It features one of my all-time favorite tropes: the hate-to-love romance.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Is it cheating to include a book about a road trip in this list? Even if it is, I don’t care because this book is the only road trip book I have ever actually liked.

This book is both cute and sad at times. It’s one of those Young Adult books that actually has substantive writing and characters. I liked the ways I got to know Amy and Roger, Roger in particular is so crush-worthy to me. The story’s pacing is one you can completely fall into and follow along with well. Amy is a very thoughtful character and that shows in the writing, but there are also these super adorable little “road trip” themed moments specifically that make this great for a car ride: playlists, grocery shopping lists, car games, etc.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I would actually recommend this audiobook specifically for a road trip. The narrator is superb, and the silliness & adventure of the book comes across as this adventure story being told to you by a story-teller. It’s got everything; pirates, queer characters, science, robberies, smut. It’s amazing.

The Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

Or really any of his books. They’re fantastic and like a slightly older Harry Potter but full of Greek mythology. Like, it’s my favorite series of all time, so I don’t know how else to sell you on them, but I guarantee you will be hooked.

Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger

Why are these books not more well-known?! They are a riot! And they have history and fantasy and steampunk and steamy times. They make for some amazing stories to get engrossed in and laugh out loud at, and just have a great time with it while stuck in the car.

My Lady Jane by Cythnia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Very similarly to “Gentleman’s Guide,” this book is surprisingly hilarious. I would also recommend this as an audiobook too! The absurdity of this book and the funny lines will keep you entertained on your road trip!

Blood For Blood trilogy by Catherine Doyle

This is the most addictive series I have ever read, without question. It’s basically Romeo & Juliet but with the Italian mafia in Chicago in modern days. Like, these books are ridiculously dramatic, and I LIVE for it. I guarantee you that you will not want to do anything but be consumed with these books when you read them! The love triangle alone is enough to engross you.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

So the first appealing thing about this book is that it’s short – so no matter how long your car ride is, you can probably finish it within the trip. Secondly, it’s FULL of plot twists… so to say that you will be hooked is an understatement And thirdly, just holy cow is this a page turner!


To find more blogs and articles from Ashley Owens visit her website;
http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/