Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer


June 2016 SummySeries Reading Wrap-up

Covers from Goodreads, click on the titles for more info.


MG novel that follows protagonist, Nell, as she searches for clues about the lost colony of Roanoke.

Summer Lost and FoundI loved all the details, both about the past and the present. It seriously felt like I was exploring North Carolina with Nell because Rebecca created such a vivid picture of the small community. And the descriptions of the humidity? SPOT ON. I’m in Virginia, I know that soupy misery.

When a book makes history fun, that’s a big thumbs up.


JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen

YA contemporary about a girl dealing with family drama and being dropped by her best friend.

This one is up there with THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER for me. Annabel was relatable and her family life was realistic. Is there anyone who writes about sisterly bonds better than Sarah Dessen??? Plus Owen. Infuriating music snob, Owen. Somehow I liked him anyway, so kudos to the author.

THE LAST STAR by Rick Yancey

The final book in the YA sci-fi 5TH WAVE trilogy.

I hate to ever say this, but: I didn’t like this book

There were multiple POVs, mostly in first person, and the similarity of voices made the whole story confusing and disjointed. Plus the purple prose, especially during a couple of cringe-worthy Cassie passages.

And I know this is a plot driven book, but the characters just kinda fell flat. Even the ending felt anti-climactic and it shouldn’t have because this is, in theory, an exciting book.

Great potential, but it just didn’t deliver for me.

THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater

The fourth and final book in the RAVEN CYCLE. Fantasy? Paranormal? I have no idea how to classify this unique series.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I love being immersed in the world of these books. The magic, the nature…the Ronan.

Ronan, ferocious and loyal and fragile. (p. 263)


But, really, I adored all the main characters, even Adam, who had to grow on me.

This book was a satisfying conclusion to a magical series.

I’ll never look at trees the same way again.

Under a Painted Sky coverUNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee

YA historical fiction, set in 1849, about a Chinese girl and a runaway slave who disguise themselves as boys to escape pursuing lawmen.

This book pulled me in completely. I picked it up one evening, thinking I’d read a few chapters before bed, and before I knew it, I was halfway through and had to make myself put it down so I could sleep.

Then I read it during breakfast the next morning and finished it at lunch because I HAD to know how Sammy and Andy’s journey turned out.

Now I’m sad because the book has ended, but I’ll try to console myself with Lee’s next book, OUTRUN THE MOON, which I need to read ASAP. And she has another book coming out in December!


LOVE STORY by Jennifer Echols

Girl writes about dream guy for her college creative writing assignment, he joins the class, writes his own steamy stories about her.

I thought this would be a sexy, swoony read, but 95% of the book was misunderstandings that could have been solved by simple conversations and I didn’t get my swoon 😦

Out of Darkness coverOUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez

From Goodreads, which sums it up beautifully: Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

This book…

How do I even put my thoughts into words? Beautifully written, painful, real.

Naomi and her twin brother and sister. Their relationship was love. I wanted to put them, and Wash and his family, into a protective bubble and keep them safe forever.

Other characters (no names, as to not spoil anything) made me want to vomit, to scrub my skin off.

The cover is perfection.

The story is haunting.

It’s important.

Read this book.



YA Book Club – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

(description from Goodreads)

There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


For starters, I love the pearly cover – I kept shoving it in my husband’s face and asking, “Isn’t it pretty? So shiny!”

You can imagine the looks he gave me.

The first chapter was beautiful, haunting, and sad – it pulled me in and let me know I’ll probably be heartbroken at some point in the series.

Once I got into Chapter 2, it took me a moment to get used to the POV switch, but I appreciated it more and more as the book went on. It really works, especially since the book is in 3rd person. I can’t imagine it any other way.

There are a lot of characters, and I did have a bit of information overload early on, but they’re so well-written that I quickly became immersed in their world and formed opinions.

If I got pulled into this circle, I’d spend most of my time cowering with Noah, secretly loving Ronan, trying to figure out Gansey and not-so-secretly expressing my distaste for Adam.

I’d avoid Neeve at all costs.

I’d like Maura, Calla, and Persephone, but be freaked out by them in the same way everything supernatural in the book freaked me out. I think I may have mentioned once or twice (or 1,000 times) that I’m easily spooked. And the book taking place in Virginia, near an Interstate I’ve actually driven on in real life…

Now I’m convinced that if I go into the woods, all kinds of unexplainable things will happen.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m going to be vague about the moments that especially gave me a chill:

The card reading that started on 137

The situation with Neeve starting on 166

What happened with Noah, starting on 274

This is a slower-paced book, but I think it has to be, because there is so much going on and a lot of questions still left to answer in the next books: Ronan’s father’s secret, Ronan’s raven, Blue’s father, Neeve’s departure, and, you know, that whole thing that happened at the end.

There are a lot of series that I think, “sure, I’ll read the next books at some point,” but I think I may be in the bookstore on launch day for the 2nd one of The Raven Cycle.

What about you? Have you read this book? What did you think? Come join the YA Book Club discussion!