9 Best YA Books Teens & Adults Will Love

YA books

Back when I was a kid, I loved reading. I’d go to the library every week and rent out the maximum number of books they would allow. Then, I’d carry a book with me everywhere, stealing little snippets of time throughout the day to read another few pages or even a paragraph. I’d hide them in my desks and whenever I was waiting for other kids to finish their work, I’d sneakily open my book and read as much as I could.

Then, I grew up, life got busy, I went into teaching, and the majority of my free time was spent reading essays or creating more lesson plans. After that, kids came, and sleepless nights were followed by full days. When I did crack a new spine, it usually wasn’t long before I was snoring loudly, the book nothing more than a prop while I napped. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back to reading the way I did when I was younger.

And then something happened. A couple years ago, I saw an Instagram post about some popular book and the whole premise just got my attention. I decided to order it, thinking that even if I never read it, it would at least look cute on my bookshelf. Instead, the second I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. And after that one, I read another one by the same author. When I’d exhausted her backlist, I started following Bookstagrammers and writers, looking for anything similar and then reading that, too. Now, I’m an active member on NetGalley where I read ARCS of unpublished (but soon to be released) books in exchange for my honest review. Between NG, my own purchases, and a Kindle Unlimited membership, I somehow read over 100 books just last year alone. It’s not my personal best, but then again, I was 10-years-old with no kids or job when I read more, so I’m calling it a win.

While I tend to hover around the rom com and cozy mystery categories, some other genres have slipped in and kept me guessing. I’ve even read a fair amount of YA, or young adult, books, which have actually been some of my favorites. I’ve had so much fun reviving my love for reading, that I thought it would be fun to round-up my favorites in different genres.

And that’s what leads us to this post. I’m starting with my favorite YA books that I’ve read over the past year. I’ve gifted quite a few of these to teens and even adults as birthday or Christmas gifts and I love hearing from them how much they enjoyed it. Reading is one of the best (and certainly easiest) vacations we can take. To learn more about any of these books, including the recommended age range, click on the links below and it’ll take you to the book page.

9 Best YA Books I’ve Read Lately:

YA books

A pet peeve of mine is reviews that just repeat the book jacket or book blurb. Instead, I’m going to share why I liked these books and you are welcome to click the link to read the detailed book blurb.

1. Better Than The Movies – Lynn Painter

This book is sunshine on a page. I had the biggest, cheesiest smile on my face the entire time I was reading this one. It was like a rom com for teens, but with the essence of my favorite 80s and 90s rom coms and none of this dark and twisty stuff that’s gotten popular lately. No, this one is just adorable and there’s enough real life there in the character’s experiences to root the story and give it heart. Teens and adults alike will really enjoy watching these characters evolve, learn to express their feelings, take risks, and work through painful pasts so that they can become stronger, wiser, and more beautiful. I love this book and I wish I could read it for the first time over and over again.

Read the book blurb here

2. Check & Mate – Ali Hazelwood

This one knocked my socks off. I’ll even admit to you that Ali’s adult novels are cute, but not my favorite (I know, please don’t hate me for saying that). But this, THIS ONE, is one of the best books I have EVER read. And, I’ll be honest with you, I know absolutely NOTHING about playing chess. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game in my life! That tells you how unbelievably good this book is, especially since it follows the two best chess players in the world as they fight through competitions to win the ultimate chess championship (and win all that prize money). Of course, it’ll be a challenge to stay focused on the game when they start falling in love with each other. It’s witty, smart, sweet, addicting, fast-paced, and heart clutching until the very end.

Read the book blurb here

3. Begin Again – Emma Lord

First relationships, dealing with loss, unconventional family dynamics, leaving for college for the first time….this book really has it all. This resonated with me and I am 20 years past this particular life milestone, so I know it’ll click with readers who are closer in age to the characters. I don’t want to give away any spoilers on what happens, but this books delivers on a lot of fronts: a bit of suspense/mystery, a game that threads through the novel, a romance, working through/processing/healing from past loss and the challenges of just becoming an adult and being on your own for the first time. I really loved this and it only makes me want to read more by Emma Lord.

Read the book blurb here

4-6. The Inheritance Games Series – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Woo, I loved these books so much. You will root so hard for this girl who comes from actual nothing and has had such a traumatic childhood and then finds herself the heiress of a massive fortune. But, there’s a catch: she has to survive living with the relatives who were written out of this will and she has to beat them at games that they have spent their entire lives learning how to play. Luckily, she’s up for the challenge and has nothing to lose – unlike everyone around her, who has to win or watch their lives as they know it go up in smoke. I’m so glad I found these after 4 were released, because it would have been painful to wait for the other books to be released. The first three are: The Inheritance Games, The Hawthorne Legacy, and The Final Gambit. A fourth was released last year with more back story called The Brothers Hawthorne (also great) and the 5th comes out this year, Games Untold. You can get the first three as a beautiful box set and I’ve given the trilogy as a gift several times and everyone loves it, too. These books are smart and I really don’t have any idea how she came up with all the puzzles and games that are in these books. And, just when you think you’ve got it figured out or know which character you can trust, she upends the story all over again. These are part mystery, part suspense, part fantasy and even part romance. They are probably classified as YA romantasy (fantasy and romance), but there’s a little bit of everything here. The books flow from one to the next and feel like a cohesive whole, which is a feat all its own.

Read the book blurb here

7. Tweet Cute – Emma Lord

Yes, two books by Emma Lord. I am absolutely a self-professed member of the Emma Lord fan club and it actually happened after reading her upcoming adult novel, The Break Up Pact as an ARC on NG. It’s absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it. After finishing it, I went to look for more of her work and realized they’ve all been YA. Doesn’t matter – the characters might be younger and newer to the whole falling in love thing, but they’re just as sweet and enrapturing as her adult novel (which is also a must read). Tweet Cute is her most well known so far and absolutely adorable. I think every reader will relate the FMC who feels like a fish out of water in the big city.

Read the book blurb here

8. Geekerella by Ashley Poston –

Poston also pens adult romance novels. I fell in love with her after reading The Dead Romantics and Seven Year Slip, both fantastic. Her YA is adorable, too. Geekerella is an award-winning YA novel and it’s the first of three modern day rewrites of popular fairy tales. Geekerella is about a sci-fi loving girl who runs into a celebrity heart throb in disguise. It’s a modern day fairytale for smart kids everywhere or kids who feel like they have to be a certain way to fit in and realize – no, they can just be who they are.

Read the book blurb here

9. Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute – Talia Hibbert

If the name alone doesn’t sell you – I don’t know what to say. The cover and title had me and that was it. Add to cart. Luckily, I was not at all disappointed by this sweet and funny rom com. I loved both main characters and the high school setting very much has my heart. It’s a friends to enemies to friends to more romance that is also witty, endearing, and smart. Also, I loved the representation and diversity in this one. This is something I noticed a gap with as a teacher ten years ago and it’s getting better, but we need more.

Read the book blurb here

What YA I’m Reading Now:

10. The Karma Map – Nisha Sharma

YA books

I didn’t add this to my graphic, because I haven’t finished it, but I’m a huge Nisha Sharma fan. I love everything she writes. This YA is so cute so far and she has a couple more out that I want to read after. I love the representation and culture in her novels. She primarily focuses her stories around Indian families and characters. Her YA has the same writing quality as her adult novels – just different levels of angst/romance. I already can recommend this one.

Honorable Mentions:

This list would be incomplete without mentioning two massively popular fantasy novels. I do not personally gravitate toward these novels, but I know many young adults do. I’ve given these as gifts and everyone has loved them. I follow both these authors on social media and they’re very entertaining, too. Highly recommend.

11. Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

YA books

This is part of a whole series. This author is such a hoot on Instagram. I love her whole vibe and wish I could love her books, too. They’re well written, it’s just not my genre. I’ve bought these books for teens and they are obsessed. There’s 4 in the series and she shares upcoming WIP on her Instagram, too. You can buy all four books in a beautiful box set like this. 

12. Lightlark – Alex Aster

YA books

This breakout star has been at the top of the bestseller lists for a crazy amount of time. Her story of becoming published is so inspiring. She actually got her big break from making videos for TikTok and they went viral. Amazing. Her books will absolutely please fantasy lovers with their inventive plots and incredible world building. This one is also being made into a movie soon and the second book, Nightbane, is out now.


Have you read any of these YA books? What should I read next? Tell me your favorites in the comments. Or, if there’s a genre of books you’d like recommendations for, tell me that, too. I have a lot more books I’d like to share with you if you like these kinds of posts.

Here are some other book related posts I’ve shared in the past:

Have a fabulous day,



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