Category Archives: Young Adult

Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

Trouble Makes a Comeback
By Stephanie Tromly

Finally, the wait is over! “Trouble Makes a Comeback” is the next installment of the adventures of Zoe and Digby, which began with the firs book, “Trouble is a Friend of Mine”.

Just like the first book, this one has all of the snarky dialogue and adventure as the first, with the added drama of teenage romance. And just like the first book, I found the second book charming, fun, and an enjoyable quick read.

In this installment of the story – and yes, there will be a third – we finally start to get some answers surrounding the mystery of what happened to Digby’s little sister.  But we don’t get all of the answers, which is fine by me, because getting there is half the fun!

We pick up the story with Zoe leading a fairly normal life now that Digby is gone.  She’s dating the high school jock, and getting ready for the ever looming, but all important college entrance exams.  Life is pretty near normal – and then the other shoe drops.  Digby is back in town.

There are drug dealers and a “borrowed” police car; mean girls/not so mean girls; a cryptic message that Digby is certain was left by his sister Sally; and Digby’s mother herself.  Is she really just a mother grieving for the disappearance of her daughter; or does she know more than she’s letting on?

As all of this comes crashing down on Zoe and Digby, Zoe needs to make a decision.  What was that kiss all about right before Digby disappeared?  Should she follow her heart, or stick with the new boyfriend?  Her mind is a whirlwind of choices and decisions as they get closer and closer to the truth.

I really enjoyed this sequel, but I read it a while ago so I’m not going to trust my memory to go into more detail. What I do know is that I’m excited for the next book, and can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom
By Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt & Co.

[Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t read the first book, Six of Crows, this will give away a big part of that plot.]

You know the old expression, “you can’t choose your family”? Well sometimes you can. And that’s exactly what this bunch of equally lovable and dysfunctional misfits did.

When we last left the crew at the conclusion of Six of Crows, they had just pulled off one of the greatest jailbreaks & heists of all time.  A one two punch combo that even they thought would end badly.  But instead of celebrating their success, and their new found wealth, they were betrayed – and by one of their own.

Broken, hunted, and missing a member of their crew, Kaz Brekker is not one to curl up in a corner feeling sorry for himself.  Those days are over – now, it’s time for revenge.  Kaz has a plan, and not just for this last betrayal; he wants revenge for all of the other wrongs that were done to him and continue to haunt him. He will get Inej back, he will get his revenge, and if he has to battle the entire Island of Ketterdam, so be it! Pity the fool who thinks Kaz Brekker has been defeated.

At the end of the first book Inej doesn’t make it back with the rest of the crew, and we find out that she’s been kidnapped by the merchant Van Eck.  Sadly, Inej doesn’t believe that Kaz will come after her: after all, there’s no profit in it for him. But what she doesn’t realize is that Kaz cares for her more than she knows; even more than Kaz himself will admit!  But Kaz is not going to let Van Eck get away with double-crossing him, and taking one of his crew.  He concocts an intricate plot of revenge, not trusting anyone and keeping some pretty important details on a “need to know” basis, leaving his crew to wonder if this time he’s gone too far.

Murder plots, explosions, a tiny bit romance, and ninja fighting on a high wire – this book has it all! Told by the various points of view of the crew members, each chapter fluctuates back and forth between them, so you see the adventure from different perspectives.  This nonlinear way of storytelling can at times make you feel like you’re losing continuity, but Bardugo does a great job at keeping it from getting disjointed, and fills in the gaps and back stories of the characters.  We learn so much more about the characters and how they came to settle in Ketterdam; what brought them together and how their friendships were forged. Bardugo skimmed the surface in the first book, so I was happy to see that she continued to round out the back stories of each of the characters.  And although the plot for revenge and the action make this book a fast paced and exciting read, it’s the camaraderie that makes this book shine.

With so many “series” books being part of a trilogy, I was surprised to find out that the second book would end the series, but Bardugo does a great job of finishing up the adventure in just the two books.  By doing this, she has eliminated the dreaded middle book syndrome, where so much of a story can drag and make me lose interest.

If you liked the first book, make sure to pick this one up.  It’s full of adventure, twists and turns, great back stories and character development – and the extra added bonus of the big reveal behind the series catchphrase, “No Mourners, No Funerals”. But no hints, you need to read the book for that.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae – The Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf for Young Readers

There is so much to praise about this book, that I don’t know where to begin. From the design of the cover and the unique design of the pages, to the way the story is told – this book is spectacular.

When you read a lot of books, no matter how many of them you liked, you find that there are always a very special few that you will always count as a favorite. Even as plots and characters from some very good books fade from memory, those special few stay with you forever. Earlier this year I felt that way about Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and now Illuminae will be added to that very special list.

Another thing this book did was get me out of my reading slump. In the past few weeks I’ve picked up a number of books, some that I was even very excited about, but for one reason or another they just didn’t feel right, and I wound up putting them down after only a couple of chapters.

Not this book! I started this one and did not want to put it down. After reading a few chapters last week on my lunch breaks at work, I picked it up Saturday morning and didn’t put it down until I finished it that same day. Slump is over 🙂

OK, so let’s dig in. This book is told in a format known as epistolary, which means that the authors used journals, transcripts of video surveillance, instant messaging, etc. to tell this story. It also takes place quite a way into the future, and in space. But let’s not throw this into the “science fiction” genre; or even the YA genre just because our two main characters happen to be teenagers. This book is so much more than that, and I’d hate to see it dismissed by someone because they don’t read sci-fi or young adult.

The book opens in the year 2576, with a memorandum from the Illuminae Group, explaining that they are sharing a “file” which contains documentation describing the destruction of the Kerenza colony the previous year, and the aftermath that followed. You get the sense that this group is trying to set the record straight.

The next set of documents are transcripts from interviews held with Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, two teenagers who were in school when the attack began. Interspersed with the account of the attack, both teenagers also tell of their recent break-up, and how it saved their lives that day.

And then the action begins – and never really lets up throughout this entire book. Even as the survivors flee the colony they are not out of danger. They’ve been crammed on the only three remaining ships: the freighter Copernicus; the science ship Hypatia; and the military battlecarrier Alexander, who heard the distress call and came to their rescue. These three ships are carrying more people than what they were built for, and there may not be enough water or food supplies to sustain them until they reach safety. To top it all off, the Lincoln, the last remaining ship that helped lead the attack on the colony is still after them, and the Alexander has been heavily damaged and can no longer use its jump capabilities. It’s going to take six months or more to reach the nearest station, if the Lincoln doesn’t get to them first.

On board their ships, Kady and Ezra try to adjust and deal with the stress and trauma of the attack. They were separated during the evacuation, with Ezra winding up on the Alexander, and being conscripted into the military as a rookie fighter pilot; Kady is on the Hypatia, doing everything she can to stay under the radar, even to the point of purposely not passing her aptitude tests so that she won’t be conscripted, and basically being a moody, arrogant teenager to any authority figure. But over time, Kady and Ezra connect via messages and realize that their break-up was a mistake, and now all they want is to reach the station safely and be together.

But then something horrible happens on one of the ships, and Kady knows that there’s a cover-up. As she hacks her way into classified and private communications she finds a co-conspirator – another hacker who will help her find the truth. What they are doing is considered treason during war time, and they could be shot, but Kady will stop at nothing to get to the truth, even if it means putting Ezra in danger.

What a wild ride! This book has it all: snarky dialogue, a biological outbreak, reluctant heroes, villains, an artificial intelligence computer with a mind of its own, danger, heartbreak, and a fast paced race to the end. I know I’m being a bit vague about most of the plot, but that’s on purpose because I don’t want to spoil or ruin one page of it. I loved every bit of this book!

I’m sure you can tell that I would highly recommend this book, and from what I’ve been reading, it’s flying off the shelves. Oh, and apparently this is book one of a trilogy. Can’t wait!

I also think I know someone who would particularly like this book – I’m looking at you, Patty!

Lastly, I think these two authors are fabulous, you can follow them on twitter at:


And for more information, visit:

As always, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
Published by Kathy Dawson Books

There’s been a lot of buzz around this book, so I was very excited when it was featured in the August Owl Crate box. The description of the book on the back cover sold me right from the start.

“With the wit of Sherlock, the smarts of Veronica Mars, and the humor of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this is a debut novel you won’t want to miss”

Needless to say, I was not a disappointed.

The book actually begins at the end of the story, then takes you on a wild ride explaining how they got to that point. I have to admit, I love when a book gives you the partial ending and then makes you go all the way back to the beginning to figure out how in the world they wound up there.

The story is narrated by a 16 year old girl named Zoe. Zoe starts out pretty unhappy. She’s the product of divorced parents and has been ripped from the city, school and friends that she’s familiar with, and forced to live with her mother in upstate New York where she attends public high school in a bland and boring town. Leaving a fairly privileged lifestyle in Manhattan and now stuck in the suburbs of River Heights, Zoe is not making any friends and she’s finding it difficult to fit in. But she has a plan – if she keeps her grades up and her record clean, she can finish high school at the prestigious Prentiss Academy, and then on to Princeton. Her plan would mean leaving her mother, which she is all too happy to do, and moving back to Manhattan with her father and his new wife. It’s a great plan. Until Digby drops into her life.

Digby is also a high school student, who shows up unannounced at Zoe’s door one day and tries to convince her to show him some photos that she’s taken. I won’t go in to how he knows she’s taken the photos, let’s just say that Zoe is not pleased. In fact, she opens the story with, “Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.”

Digby is brazen and brash and very difficult to like, but like him or not Zoe gets pulled in because, as we learn later, Digby never takes “no” for an answer. There is also another character that plays an integral role in the story, and that’s Henry. Henry is a friend of Digby’s from their childhood and is all too familiar with Digby’s shenanigans.  He tries to warn Zoe, but it’s no use, against his better judgement even Henry gets dragged in!

And so an adventure with drug dealers, kidnappers, perverts, and a wacky school dance begins!

As Zoe, Digby and Henry attempt to figure out what happened to a girl from River Heights that’s been missing for months, Digby is also trying to piece together the kidnapping of his younger sister eight years ago. He thinks it’s too much of a coincidence and that the two events are related. Together the three of them pull off some pretty dangerous and illegal schemes, and Zoe is in real danger of ruining her perfect school record. Throughout the story I was cheering them on, even though at times I felt like I wanted someone to ring Digby’s neck. He really is a hard character to like. But then again so is Zoe, who complains so much about her “miserable life” in River Heights that she’s almost as obnoxious as Digby.

Because of the whining, I didn’t find Zoe’s inner monologue narration as witty as, let’s say Veronica Mars, however I did find the conversations between Zoe and Digby humorous and even sweet at times. The conversations between Digby and Henry, although humorous as well, were a bit over done with the constant use of “dude” and “bro”. But then again, I’m not a teenage boy, so who knows, maybe it’s perfectly natural.

The story is quick paced, and as it progresses the friendship becomes the best part of the story, and even goes so far as to pull in few more characters – some likable, some not so much. By the time you’re almost at the end of the book, you’re reminded of where Zoe’s story began, and it races to a pretty satisfying ending – for now. YES! there is going to be a sequel.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. For now, I will be impatiently awaiting the sequel, along with the rest of it’s fans – and there are many.

You can follow Stephanie Tromly on Twitter @stephanietromly

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