5 Reviews Of Throwback YA Books

As we approach the new year, I am trying to enter unburdened. So, I am going through my spreadsheets, typing reviews, and posting drafts. I want to go into 2022 free and clear without leftover unwritten Netgalley/Edelweiss reviews hanging over my head. And so, similar to a photodump, here is a review dump of five throwback YA books. Happy almost New Year my friends! Here’s hoping you also enter the new year not weighed down by outstanding obligations.

And so, similar to a photodump, here is a review dump of five throwback YA books. Happy almost New Year my friends!

Diamond Boy by Michael Williams


It’s interesting reading a 2014 published book in 2020. You would think not much has changed in six years, but wow I think there has been a mindset shift. Diamond Boy by Michael Williams really does illustrate, at least to me, how much I’ve learned and grown as a discerning reader since 2016. This book is about a teenage Zimbabwean boy named Patson. He moves from his home to a diamond mining town in hopes of a better life with his family. It’s written by a white man. And well, I just don’t know that this was an appropriate person to tell the story. To clarify, I believe that there’s so much value to books that are own voices and knowing what I do know about the seats available at the publishing table, I had that in the back of my mind while reading.

So, Diamond Boy is almost like Blood Diamond in book form for young adults. Patson’s father was a school teacher and believes he is moving his family to obtain a new teaching job by the diamond mine with government housing. The diamond mine is owned by Patson’s stepmother’s brother. As it turns out though, nothing is as the family had expected. So, Patson and his father work the mine in hopes of finding a perfect diamond and their way out of poverty. Unfortunately, the government and army steps in. Things go haywire. There’s tragedy. There are very serious stakes involved.

This book provides an exploration of what life is like working on the diamond mines. In addition, we learn about what life is like under Mugabe. To be honest, I am not motivated to look up if Mugabe is still involved in the Zimbabwean government. In the afterword written in 2014, he was. We learn about the impact of inflation. Also, there’s information on the impact of HIV and AIDS. I think that this book does an okay job of talking about how hard life can be when in poverty. It also is a very quick read. If you do pick this up, just do it with the caveat in mind that it is absolutely not an own voices book. You might gain more insight on diamond mine life, but not the insight that comes with an own voices book.

Snapshot by Angie Stanton

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I guess sometimes I just get the urge to read books that have been on my shelf for over five years. Snapshot by Angie Stanton has basically been collecting dust for seven years, but during this whole COVID19 pandemic, I wanted to read something that would take me back to a simpler time. This read, much like Rock And A Hard Place was absolutely OKAY. Not the best but certainly nothing that I would actively dislike or try to put anyone off reading.

Snapshot follows Marti who is the daughter of a famous rocker and one his groupies. She lives with her grandmother who is grounded and down to earth and wonderful. Marti is about to attend this renowned arts camp and really hone in on her photography skills. Marti could not be more excited if she tried. Adam is the youngest Jamieson brother, member of the boy band. He takes two weeks off to go to the same camp as Marti. However, to escape recognition, he shaves his hair off. Marti and Adam of course are very attracted to each other, until Marti learns Adam’s identity. Tragedy strikes and of course, the plot just goes right from there.

Okay, so I have to at least give it to this book for keeping my attention rapt. Let me tell you, there’s so much ridiculous. I was like, wait what – no, this is TOO MUCH. But I couldn’t just stop reading and set the book aside. In a weird way, I liked both Marti and Adam. They’re good kids who have intense feelings. I would have liked a deeper exploration of the events instead of bouncing from one twist and turn to the next, but it is what it is. Reluctant readers would like Snapshot because honestly, there’s not a dull moment in this book. It just was a little over the top for my old self.

The Seers by Julianna Scott

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I think that it is unfortunate that Strange Chemistry folded. The few books I read that they published were quite captivating, even if the covers were awful. In December 2012, I read The Holders by Julianna Scott. I then was somehow sent the sequel, The Seers via Netgalley and so it has sat on my to be read queue for 8 years. Finally though, during the pandemic, I decided to get through my queue and rip through my backlist. As of the last weekend in April, The Seers was the oldest need to be reviewed Netgalley book I had. So, I felt the pressure to finally read it.

As it turns out, I probably could have wrote one of those this isn’t my taste anymore reviews and been fine – particularly as the publisher is no more and you can’t just buy The Seers on Kindle. BUT, I just felt this obligation to read -probably because when I look back, I liked The Holders so much. And yes, tastes evolve, but you never know. So – as it turns out – I ripped through The Seers by Julianna Scott this time around, reading it in under 24 hours. I didn’t even re-read the first book for context. I couldn’t because it’s not available. Still, I was able to follow along with the adventure and feel like I competently understood everything going on.

Main character Becca begins the book getting fitted for a fancy dress. She’s about to go to this gala event with her father Jocelyn and meet more people who are just like her. Along for the ride are Cormac and Becca’s partner, Alex. At the gala, they discover the man they wanted to obtain information from is dead. And so, it’s a race to find the man’s notebook of his visions and to read those visions before bad guy Darragh can.

Overall, this was really compelling. It was an interesting storyline. I didn’t find myself bored or attention wandering. Becca is really a kind character and I appreciated that. There are some hallmarks of how life has changed since 2012 for sure. One of the characters is a mean girl who is referred to with some choice words. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and it looks like we won’t ever get a third book – unless maybe the author self publishes or sells to another publisher, and that is quite a shame.

Under The Spotlight by Angie Stanton

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Truly this pandemic has been ideal for finishing up reading series that have been on my back burner for years. Under The Spotlight by Angie Stanton is the third and final book in the Jamieson brothers trilogy. It is also the longest book in the trilogy as well. And finally, FINALLY I have finished it. I don’t regret my time with this book, per se. I am just psyched to be done.

Under The Spotlight is all about Garrett Jamieson and this girl named Riley. Garrett is the oldest of the Jamieson brothers and the one who took the breakup of the band the hardest. As this book opens, he has hit rock bottom. Riley is a redheaded young lady who is working at a music production studio learning the ropes and hoping to get the chance to do some sound engineering. Unfortunately for her, Garrett comes into the picture and ends up working at the same studio and takes her spot so to speak. As it turns out though, Riley has a past where she was on a reality TV singing competition five years ago – Chart Toppers. She vowed never to sing again, but Garrett is convinced she will be a star. Will Riley give in? Will the two hook up?

Obviously you can guess the answer to those two questions. Straight up though, I thought that Garrett was an asshole. I did not find very much redeeming about his character. He is rude. He is inconsiderate. Also, Garrett has no respect for Riley’s wishes and is a terrible listener. I get that he’s the romantic lead in Under The Spotlight because he’s the final Garrison brother. I just felt like there wasn’t enough as a reader to like him as a romantic lead. Riley is great though – she works so hard to overcome and she is a giver. She’s kind hearted and talented. Riley deserves much better than Garrett.

At least the plot of this book wasn’t as ridiculous as Snapshot. Plus, this book is SUCH a quick read. I gobbled it up in under twenty four hours. I’d recommend for some bubblegum reading.

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

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Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer caught my eye based upon the premise. Seriously, I will happily pick up most of the fairy tale retellings – particularly when they are YA. So, I gladly read my copy of Spindle Fire and made a note to write the review. Nearly four years later, after reading, I am finally clearing through my list of need to be reviewed books. And so, I am doing my level best to remember what happened in this book and what I thought of it, ha!

Spindle Fire is essentially a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Only instead of one girl — there’s two and they happen to be sisters. The sisters are Isabelle and Aurora. Isabelle is an illegitimate daughter and very bold. Meanwhile, Aurora is the heir, and she’s a bit sheltered. The two girls aren’t really alike except that they have such a strong sibling bond. Anyways, there’s a curse regarding pricking a finger on the spindle – so the king burns all the spindles – just like the fairy tale. However, somehow, Aurora still pricks her finger on a spindle and ends up in a deep sleep.

It is up to Isabelle to save her — which Isabelle attempts to find a prince to kiss Aurora and wake her up. Things are falling apart in the kingdom. Aurora, however, has woken up in a new land. And it turns out – there’s a man there – a hunter – whom she is attracted to.

Well, all, four years later and I barely remember this book. I do, however, think the sequel sounds interesting. Also, I did read this book really quickly with a newborn in the house – so props to it for keeping my attention during a rough time. I might end up going back and re-reading because this feels like something I want to try again and to remember and process.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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