Festival Visiting Young Adult Authors

YA Author Review

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The Queen’s Rising: In this epic debut fantasy, inspired by Renaissance France, an outcast finds herself bound to a disgraced lord & entangled in his plot to overthrow the king.

Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion & to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, & knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—& restore the rightful queen, & her magic, to the throne.

With war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.

The Queen’s Resistance: The newest chapter in Brienna’s story, just out this past March!

Why pick the series up? So many secrets! Ross creates such a rich world, one full of intrigue, surprises, the bonds of chosen family, & becoming who you were born to be. A perfect tapestry of a novel. The sequel does not disappoint!

Echo North: Echo Alkaev's safe & carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city & mysteriously disappears.

Believing her father is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf - the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes. 

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, & something new & dark & strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, & a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear & Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf's enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, & Hal will be lost forever.

Why pick up? Magical in every sense, this book is perfect for bibliophiles & fans of fairy tale retellings. Meyer’s retelling follows in the vein of the master Robin McKinley, with it’s own kind of magic to boot. True love, betrayal, & the most amazing library of all time.


The Light Between Worlds: What happens when you return to the real world after being in a fantastical one like Narnia?

Six years ago, sisters Evelyn & Philippa Hapwell were swept away to a strange & beautiful kingdom called the Woodlands, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust.

Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, & Philippa just wants to move on. When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair & the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Walking the line between where fantasy & reality meet, this lyrical & magical novel is, above all else, an exploration of loss & healing, & what it means to find where you belong.

Why pick it up? Weymouth really captures the ache of needing to belong to a greater world. Perfect for those who wished for Narnia to be real as children (or, let’s be honest, yesterday). A lyrical portrayal of grief, sisterhood, & what it means to be home. Trigger warnings: Depression & suicide.

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The Reinhold Chronicles: It's been twelve years since the volcano drove young Arliss & her clan from their island home. Now, things are changing in their newfound kingdom. Princess Arliss is almost sixteen. Her father, King Kenton, urges her to take more responsibility--& to find a young man to carry on the line. But Arliss begins to question the class boundaries that divide her city on a hill. When her father forbids her friendship with the young peasant swordsman, Philip, Arliss sets off on a defiant quest to the heart of the land. Little does she know that she will discover an evil more threatening & ancient than she could imagine--& a prophecy that speaks of a fiery arrow.

Why pick up the series? Headstrong princess out to have an adventure & prove herself all at once, while shenanigans & complications ensue. For the reader who loves action and vibrant prose.

Festival Visiting Picture Book Authors


Gabrielle Balkan: Balkan’s playful and fun nonfiction style will keep young readers engaged while also teaching them incredible facts they won’t forget!

Also by Gabrielle: 50 Cities of the USA, Book of Bones, Book of Flight (forthcoming), The 50 States Fun Facts, The 50 States Activity Book

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Jonathan D. Voss: Jonathan’s lovable characters are full of whimsy and imagination. His books are perfect for lovers of friendship and adventure.

Also by Jonathan: Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story (forthcoming).

LK James: An illustrator & designer, LK’s debut picture book is sneakily reflective in a whimsical package. The colorful but muted tones set the stage for a thoughtful story time.


Jessie Sima: Most recent winner of the GA Picture Book Award! Her books are cheerful, colorful, and hilarious.

Also by Jessie: Harriet Gets Carried Away; Love, Z

Illustrated by Jessie: Snow Pony & the Seven Miniature Ponies

Shelli R. Johannes: The Cece books encourage curiosity and determination. Perfect for tiny scientists!

Also by Shelli: Cece Loves Science & Adventure (forthcoming)


Shanda McCloskey: Shanda’s writing is adorable and hilarious. Robots, missions, and dogs, oh my! Perfect for children of the technological age.

Also by Shanda: T-Bone the Drone (forthcoming)

Crystal Swain-Bates: Crystal’s books are confident and bold! Perfect for young ones with big personalities or those in need of encouragement.

Also by Crystal: I’m a Pretty Princess; Big Hair, Don’t Care


Bart King & Jacob Wenzka: This author & illustrator team knows how to engage their audience, whether it’s a sneaky sleepy-time book or encouraging the power of imagination.

Also by Bart & Jacob: Juniper Gets Wet, The Girl Who Kept Night in Her Closet

Silly (Sounding) Plots That Are (Actually) Amazing

We've all done it. We've read the synopsis on the back or inside cover of a book and quickly put it back (maybe even with a raised eyebrow) because what we read sounded unappealing or just plain silly (and not the make you laugh kind of silly). In this series, we'll talk about titles you may have passed on but are more than worth a second look.

Early Young Adult: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

One word kept me from reading this series for months: cyborgs. 
Kudos if you enjoy reading about them, but I read the synopsis of the first book in this series of retellings, Cinder, and rolled my eyes. Heavily.

I'm so glad I gave in; I devoured this series. Not only does Meyer write about cyborgs in the best and most interesting way possible, but she does it in a way that makes us look at the real world in a different light, as good fiction should.

She also retells some of our favorite fairy tales in a fascinating future world (which is another reason I didn't pick up the series as long as I did, I find that it's hard to build future worlds that aren't crazy dystopian and I read enough of that, thank you). Each book in the series adds another perspective while building the same story line, which is difficult to do well, but Meyer excels with this format. This series has everything going for it: strong leading and supporting characters (both male and female), both romance and friendship, courage and power, technology, diplomacy and mind control.

A caveat: This is Young Adult, so there is a little content that isn't appropriate for a younger crowd. If that's something that worries you, you can avoid the bulk/worst of it by skipping Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5). This book gives Queen Lavana's backstory, which makes you intermittently pity her and loathe her, but you won't miss out on too much of the plot.