YA Books for the Winter Break
Are your middle-grade or young adult readers looking for novels to fill the winter break? Our Hidden Gems ARC readers recently loved the following ya books, and we bet the middle-grade or young reader in your life will, as well. Who knows – you may find yourself a fan of the following titles, too.
The Hollow Boys by Douglas Smith
With 20+ ratings and a 4.9 average star rating, The Hollow Boys is the first in the two book Dream Rider Saga. The Hollow Boys is the story of Will, the boy who can walk in dreams, and siblings Case and Fader, who are fighting to survive the danger that is lurking in the streets.
Ami A. raves in her five star Amazon review, “The Hollow Boys by the extremely talented wordsmith, Douglas Smith, is an excellent fantasy adventure! The characters are relatable and the protagonists easy to understand and care about. The antagonists are very easy to dislike but, they all compelled me to read to discover the next event. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it.”
Saundra W. agrees. She writes in her five star review, “This author came to my attention through his superlative short fiction. Now having read two of his novels, I can say his voice rings as true through this longer platform. With a writing style as unique as his imagination, this is an author to follow. I read this book in a single sitting, late into the night. Simply couldn’t put it down and yearned for the next installment immediately. It’s just that good!”
Sword and Sorcery: Frostfire by Ethan Avery
With 10+ ratings and a 4.5 average star rating, Sword and Sorcery: Frostfire is a hidden gem. This book is suggested for ages 13 and up per the Amazon listing, and posts the question, “What would you sacrifice to get what you most desire?” What follows is an adventure as Erevan embarks on a quest to right a wrong. Described by Publishers Weekly’s BookLife Reviews as, “Avery’s buoyant, character-driven debut…brings a fresh class consciousness to high fantasy.”
Readers also agreed with their assessment. Jessica writes in her five star Amazon review, “The world Ethan created is unique and so intriguing, it could quickly become a favorite for whomever reads it. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great fantasy story with beautiful, diverse characters and unique world building.”
“…Masterful, gripping, and entertaining, author Ethan Avery’s Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire is a must-read epic fantasy novel and the first in a brand new series readers won’t be able to get enough of,” Anthony A. raved in his five star Goodreads review. “One of my top picks so far in 2022 for fantasy reads, the author found a great harmony between the world-building without sacrificing character growth, and the ability to craft characters that reflected the dynamic and diverse nature of our own world and create new heroes that readers can become engaged with was just truly amazing to read.”
Keeper of Scales by Anne Mollova
With 30+ ratings and a 4.5 average star rating, Keeper of Scales is the first book in The Trianid series, and is recommended for ages 13 and up per the Amazon listing. The book chronicles the tale of Alyen, a crown princess who is faced with the impossible task of protecting her kingdom using skills she has kept secret for her own safety.
“The moment I read the first chapter I was hooked!” Lisa F. raves in her five star Amazon review. “Every flip of the page had me reading with anticipation about what would happen next. This book is filled with laughter, sadness, and every emotion in between. The characters are relatable, especially the one they meet in the forest. Throughout the book, I was constantly reminded of different fairy tales I had read over the years and it shows the dedication of the writer on every page. If you’re looking for a book with adventure, magic, fantasy, and a little love, this is the one for you…”
Sarah F. concurs in her five star Amazon review, “Best book I have read in a long time. I enjoyed being pulled into this wonderful magical world which Anne creates in her story. Great writing, well balanced characters and storyline. I could not stop reading until the end; now I am very excited to know how the story continues. Can’t wait for the next book!”
The Gate of Aleph by J.H. Ellis
With 20+ ratings and a 4.4 average star rating, The Gate of Aleph is the first of two books in the Seven Gates of the Kingdom series and Amazon lists it as recommended for readers aged 12 and up. The Gate of Aleph follows Shammah, an exiled crown prince, who is urgently called home by his ailing father to save the kingdom from impending danger.
“…This is a great fantasy novel that sets up an even greater series,” Phil B. writes in his five star Amazon review. “The author introduces us to a fascinating world full of strange creatures, armies, darkness and light. The characters are really fun, and the setting is described in great detail. Fans of massive fantasy novel series will really enjoy this read.”
Leniece D. writes in their five star Amazon review, “…The author is not only a master storyteller, but is also a wizard who creates images through powerful descriptions. The story was 4 dimensional; I could hear the crowds, sense the atmosphere, taste the foods and even SMELL the hanging gardens. In many respects this book reminds me of the great writings of Tolkien. Like Tolkien, Ellis tells an allegorical story that parallels reality and compels deeper thought. This book has something for all readers, love stories, action, adventure, mystery, intrigue…”
Ghost Hunters: Swamp Witch by Susan McCauley
With 10+ ratings and a 4.7 average star rating, this title is intended for readers ages 8-13 per the Amazon listing. Ghost Hunters: Swamp Witch is the final book of the four book Ghost Hunters series, and follows Alex, a psychic, and his friends as they investigate a surge of paranormal activity in a race to save New Orleans.
Christina H. raves in her five star Amazon review, “…Alex and his cobbled-together family have all grown, in talent, confidence, and heart, and it is here that the true ingenuity of the author shines. The book features a hauntingly-scary antagonist with blood-chilling twists and turns woven throughout masterful storytelling—as I’ve come to expect from Ms. McCauley—but it is once again the heart and courage of each character that has grabbed me and won’t let me go. If you have a middle-grade reader who loves adventure, ghosts, friendship stories, and a scary-good time, this is a series they will fall in love with and read over and over again.”
“Man I LOVE this series so much,” Belle concurs in her five star Amazon review. “Such a unique take on an alternate world with a very high paranormal presence. Set in New Orleans too. Love . All the details down to the names given everything, the tattoos, psychics, OPI, wards..just EVERYTHING is so well done. A glossary in the back of every book if needed too. The ghosts & spooky factor are better & better each book, with a whole new paranormal mystery for our kids & their mentors. This one was a doozy, loved it…”
Hidden Gems readers got to read these novels first, so if you want more stories to add to your winter reading list, sign up today! Subscribers to Hidden Gems receive invitations to read books like these – plus other titles from any of up to 15 other genres – for free. All we ask is that you leave an honest review of them on Amazon when you’re done reading!