In 2015 Pop’s Blog erupted on the Net reviewing over 30 YA novels and short stories. We decided to focus our attention on books published by independent publishers and authors because too many review sites tend to ignore these amazing books. Yes, we’ve read and reviewed popular books like Paper Towns by John Green, but those books seem to garner the most attention ignoring wonderful Indie authors.
Now, without further ado… Here are Pop’s 7 favorite YA novels of 2015.
#7. Pagan Flames by Vanayssa Somers
Theresa Bordils, a teen orphaned at 12, lives within the safety of a 15th Century Convent in Palma, Majorca. When the Office of the Inquisitor uncovers her activities in Magick, she is sentenced to burn at the stake, just like all the other witches.
Teri is a grad student working on a PhD in History. As her advisor’s best student, she is invited to fly to Majorca, Spain on an archaeological dig. Since her research thesis is about the Inquisition in Palma, she is thrilled to accept. Little does Teri know that her past life as Theresa Bordils will come crashing down on her when she explores the Majorcan Caves.
Vanayssa Somers has created a timeless love story while weaving pagan magical arts into her tale. The passion in this YA love story will melt pages.
#6 Ennara and the Fallen Druid by Angela Myron
Ennara lives in Estlan, a land of magic and mystery. She was born a caul, a baby with a mask foreshadowing great magical ability. So her parents had to have her hand tattooed with a picture of a fire-breathing dragon to warn others of her great powers.
One night, during her eleventh year, Ennara is attacked by a shadespawn, a shadowy demon that seems to be increasing in number absorbing people and leaving Estlan frozen in fear. Ennara barely escaped with her life.
Then one day the wizard Tork, Ennara’s magical tutor, arrives telling her parents that he must find the Sword of Gisilfrid, necessary to break the curse creating the heinous shadespawn. To make matters worse, he needs the luck of a caul to ensure the success of his mission or else Estlan would fall under the dark spell of the Fallen Druid.
Ennara and the Fallen Druid is an exciting read from first to last page. And the good news: there’s book two, Ennara and the Book of Shadows, to relieve any reader’s Ennara addiction.
#5 Willem of the Tafel by Hans M. Hirschi
In the year 437 after the Great War, the Tafel lived underground to protect themselves from the harsh surface conditions that would probably instantly kill a human. They barely survived in an old military installation built inside a mountain near Cape Town, South Africa. They were the only known survivors of the man’s final folly.
One of the few white descendants of the human race, Willem the Ghost faced bullying by his Shadow peers. One day, while relaxing under the heat lamps that nourished Tafel crops, Bongani, a Shadow bully, found Willem. Unfortunately for Bongani, he lost his footing and plunged to his death.
The Shadow authorities said it was murder, so Willem was expelled from the safety of their cavern home and sent out onto the surface—a death sentence. Or so they thought.
Willem survived the surface, which had cleansed itself of the nuclear winter. Alone and frightened, Willem soon made a startling discovery: The Tafel weren’t the only Survivors of the Great War. In the rubble of old Cape Town he meets travelers from Madagascar who had recently arrived by a sailing vessel.
In his riveting novel, Hirschi tackles important issues—racism, global warming, homosexuality, and survival. Through surprising twists and turns readers will be routing for Willem and the people he encounters outside of the Tafel.
#4 Lost: The Caelian Cycle (Book 1) by Donnielle Tyner
In 1916, during the great World War, a meteorite struck during a small skirmish. Its dust enveloped surviving soldiers altering their DNA providing them with a Talent. Some could manipulate sound, light, fire, a life force, or have great strength or speed. The future off spring from these troops spread quickly throughout the planet becoming known as Caelian. If a normal couple gave birth to a Caelian child, the child would be given up to a special orphanage, where the children would be raised to learn to control their Talents.
Sadie was one of those children. Abandoned at birth by her mother, Sadie was raised at the Saint Vincent’s Orphanage where her family becomes her friends. Now, at 17, Sadie’s Talent is about to be realized, but she will soon find out that her gift could leave death in its wake.
Donnielle Tyner does a superb job of characterization. From Sadie’s first person perspective, we get to know our heroine well. We also learn to love her best friends Madison and Rebecca—two other Caelians with fascinating Talents.
#3 Harry Lane is Innocent by J. Scaddon
Harry Lane is Innocent is a scathing account of an innocent man accused of murdering Peggy, a college student in the park on her way home.
Though Harry Lane had the body of a twenty-three year old, his mind was like that of an innocent child. Harry was incapable of murder.
But Douglas Fields was. Fields was an angry young man capable of committing atrocious crimes of violence without a trace of remorse. While drunk one night he saw a young woman pass him along a dark path through Hunter’s Park, in London. Refusing his obnoxious advances angered Fields to a breaking point. After stabbing Peggy to death, Field’s grabbed her purse and escaped.
That’s when Harry Lane showed up to witness a helpless girl stuffed between rows of bushes. Not knowing what else to do, Harry held Peggy in his arms until she died, covering the young man in her blood.
Scaddon’s ninety-five page novella is a scathing account of the death penalty with unforgettable characters and a plot that will keep readers riveted from first to last page.
#2 Bridge Through Time by Scott Spotson
Kyle Thorning is a brilliant young physicist working as a researcher at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research where scientists probe the fundamental structure of the universe. Kyle’s secret project is to create a time travel machine.
Why the interest? Kyle’s dad, Max Thorning discovered a book, Account of Time Travel on Earth Using Wave Theory, and gave it to his son as a way to cope with his ADHD. The book led Max to Dr. Time, a seemingly benign alien and his Time Weaver device that sent 42 year-old Max back in time to his 16-year-old self to relive an unfulfilled life in Life II. This action created a rift in time and an alternate universe.
Writer Scott Spotson, author of Life II and now its sequel, Bridge Through Time does an amazing job of creating an alternate universe with believable characters, beautiful settings, and a plot that moves breathlessly until the spine tingling climax.
#1 Freedom for the Birds by J.M. Sutherland
K’Lar and D’Ree are red-tailed hawks who have recently migrated back to Alberta, Canada from Southern Mexico for the summer. They need to find and repair their old nest so D’Ree can lay her clutch of eggs.
They fly through a city filled with noise and pollution. When they finally arrive at their valley home, all the trees are gone leaving their hunting field a swath of mud encircled by homes under construction.
Incredulous that the humans violated their own law by destroying a hawk habitat, the migratory birds fly to a farm at which they had nested many earth cycles ago. But alas, the farmer sold out to numerous developers and the area was converted into housing subdivisions centered by a hospital.
Distraught, the saddened couple moves on to another valley where they meet an aging hawk, T’Nal. He offers to share his hunting grounds with them, and just in time, too. D’Ree is about to lay her eggs.
Freedom for the Birds is a fantasy with animals talking to each other and even attending classes together led by wise old owl, Griffin. Sutherland takes literary liberties to show her human audience the hawk perspective of the life they must live due to our tragic housekeeping ways.
No reader will walk away from this novel without feeling a deeper respect for the other organisms that inhabit our world.
If you are an Indie author or publisher and would like a book reviewed, please contact Pop at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have read a YA book you’ve simply loved and would like to post it on Pop’s Blog, contact us, too.