Courtney

  • best books 15 ya

    2015 was a banner year for young adult fiction! Not only did we see an exciting surge in titles featuring diverse protagonists or titles penned by people of color, thanks to the awareness raised by the We Need Diverse Books campaign; but if 2015’s any indication, YA has entered its “Golden Age” and the market continues to mature as an art form.

    In 2015, titles like BONE GAP by Laura Ruby challenged the way we view our place in reality; Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES reaffirmed the importance of each human life; we saw art explode into being in Daniel Jose Older’s SHADOWSHAPER, and history transform in Laura Amy Schlitz’s THE HIRED GIRL. Finally, Sarah Crossan’s novel ONE made us do a double-take at the lives of conjoined twins.

    Here are the YA novels published in 2015 you should absolutely not miss:

    BoneBONE GAP
    By Laura Ruby
    A favorite of: Courtney Alameda  

    Quite possibly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, Laura Ruby’s BONE GAP won the 2016 Printz Award and was nominated for the National Book Award with good reason. In a story that blends magical realism with dreamlike imagery, readers meet Finn, a denizen of the rural town called Bone Gap, who witnesses the supposed kidnapping of his older brother’s girlfriend, Roza. Unfortunately, Finn’s own vague descriptions of the man who kidnapped Roza—and his own slowly-emerging disabilities—make it difficult for the police to find her. And Roza herself seems lost in a dream world, one in which a nightmare preys off the very essence of beauty itself.    

     

    hiredgirlTHE HIRED GIRL
    By Laura Amy Schlitz
    A favorite of: Anjanette Jones  

    If you attend the event on February 3rd, you’ll get to hear Anjie speak as passionately about this book as I have! (And yes, you most certainly want to hear Anjie talk about this book!)   Growing up on a hardscrabble farm, Joan avoided her cruel father but adored her mother, who encouraged her to work hard, study her lessons, and earn her own way in the world. After Ma’s death, 14-year-old Joan clashes with her father and flees to Baltimore. Claiming to be 18, she’s taken into the household of a wealthy Jewish family as a hired girl. Joan works hard to please the Rosenbachs and their beloved, aging housekeeper, the testy Malka. Over the next few months, the girl makes her share of mistakes . . . and her overactive imagination, passions, and disregard for propriety often get her into trouble. Still, these qualities endear her to the Rosenbachs (and likely to readers everywhere, too!)        

    ShadowSHADOWSHAPER  
    By Daniel José Older
    A favorite of: Courtney Alameda  

    What else can I say about SHADOWSHAPER but this: READ IT. This book is unlike anything else I’ve read in YA, blending genres, cultures, and languages seamlessly and beautifully.   When Sierra Santiago’s grandfather warns her that the paintings in their Brooklyn neighborhood are “fading,” Sierra’s puzzled. Through her own wit and determination, Sierra discovers she’s descended from a long line of shadowshapers, men and women able to animate art with the spirit of a departed soul.   But now, Sierra’s community is under attack from an anthropologist seeking to appropriate Sierra’s family’s traditions and culture. In order to save it, Sierra must draw upon and amplify her ancestors’ spirits, before their art fades away for good.    

    brightplacesALL THE BRIGHT PLACES
    By Jennifer Niven
    A favorite of: Anjanette Jones  

    From what I’ve heard from readers, this is a beautiful book, a sad book, but a life-affirming book. When Theodore “the Freak” Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—both considering suicide—it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship, and a journey to discover the "natural wonders" of the state of Indiana. Violet’s running from her sister’s death nine months earlier. Finch’s trying to deal with an undiagnosed case of manic depression. And as they fall into an oddball sort of love, both teens become desperate to save one another from the demons that plague them.  

     

    oneONE
    By Sarah Crossan
    A favorite of: Breanne Gilroy  

    Last but not least, we have one of Breanne’s favorite books of the last year: A novel-in-verse about two sisters suffering from one unique problem.   Attached at the hip—literally—conjoined 16-year-old twins Tippi and Grace have outlived every prognosis for their life span. Their younger, ballet-dancing sister, earnest Mom, drunk Dad, and free-spirited Grammie comprise their whole world until homeschooling funds run out, and Tippi and Grace enter a local New Jersey private school as scholarship students. Their first friends ever, the pink-haired, HIV-positive Yasmeen and sweet, humble Jon, dutifully introduce them to raucous teen fun while serving as vigilantes against bullying and ignorance. When separation surgery becomes a potential reality, crucial questions of how bodies shape identity, friendship, love, and commitment are explored. The pacing’s gentle here, but this isn’t a novel readers will soon forget.

     

    Make sure to join Anjie, Breanne, and I on Tuesday, February 3rd for the YA portion of the Library’s Best Books of 2015 presentation! 

  • What to Read in YA FEB Revised2

    February might be the month of love, but it’s also the month for daring escapes, thrilling races, blood-soaked tales of revenge, and revolution . . . at least in the YA world! There are some fantastic voyages awaiting YA readers in February, from the streets of Dan Wells’ new science fiction world of Mirador to Victoria Scott’s action-packed mechanical horse racetracks. Join Tommy Wallach on a three-day romp through the streets of San Francisco with the ultimate manic pixie dream girl; delve into the world of adolescent best-friendship with Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom; or start a revolution with Victoria Aveyard. Whatever you love to read, you’ll find a great match in this month’s new releases.

      Here are the titles I’m most excited to book-push in February!  

    revengeREVENGE AND THE WILD
    by Michelle Modesto  
    February 2, 2016  

    I was lucky enough to get an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of this book from my agent in October, and was absolutely blown away by Modesto’s style. Not only is this one of the most creative books I’ve read in a while, but Modesto blends the fantasy, steampunk, and Western genres almost seamlessly. I adore Westie, Modesto’s tough and somewhat irascible heroine, a girl willing to do whatever it takes to see her family avenged. Though it’s still early yet, REVENGE AND THE WILD is already one of my favorite books of the year.  

    Please, please, please read this book. Then stop by the reference desk so we can chat about it, I’m dying to talk to other readers about this one!  

    From the publisher:  

    The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

    Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

    But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.    

    bluescreenBLUESCREEN  
    by Dan Wells  
    February 16, 2016  

    Speaking of heroines who rely on artificial arms, let me introduce you to Marisa Carneseca—gamer, hacker, and science fiction super-sleuth. While BLUESCREEN’s drawing a lot of comparisons to M.T. Anderson’s novel FEED,  I personally think is sounds like more of a young adult SNOW CRASH (Neal Stephenson), which is nothing short of awesome. A Utah native, Dan Wells has given us some fine science fiction in the past, so I have high hopes for his newest offering.   Plus, you can check out the fabulous BLUESCREEN artwork on his blog now!  

    From the publisher:  

    Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. That connection is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

    Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.  

    Sounds incredible, right? I’m dying to start handing this one off to readers, especially to those big fans of S.J. Kincaid’s INSIGNIA, Cory Doctorow’s FOR THE WIN, or Ernest Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE.    

    SaltSALT TO THE SEA
    by Ruta Sepetys  
    February 2, 2016  

    Ruta Sepetys’ novels are always automatically added to my TBR pile, and her newest novel, SALT TO THE SEA, is no exception. Sepetys has a remarkable ability to render the past with vivacity, eloquence, and empathy; and Salt to the Sea is already being hailed as Code Name Verity’s spiritual successor. Maggie Stiefvater says this book is “swift-footed, kind-hearted . . . [and] is intensely satisfying in just about all the ways a novel can be satisfying.”  

    Honestly, if Maggie Stiefvater loved this book, I know I’m going to love it too.  

    From the publisher:

    In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are  Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

    Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.          

    TitansTITANS
    by Victoria Scott  
    February 23, 2016  

    I remember hearing about this one when it first sold—Victoria came up with the idea of mechanical horses while watching a car commercial and drafted the entire concept that night. While the concept comes off as a little SCORPIO RACES-esque—it’s been pitched as NASCAR meets NATIONAL VELVET—still, I’ve heard amazing things from people who’d had the opportunity to read this one early.  

    From the publisher:  

    Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

    She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

    But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.  

    Make sure not to miss . . .  

    THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE, by Tommy Wallach

    GLASS SWORD, by Victoria Aveyard, book two in the RED QUEEN trilogy  

    THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, by Emily Henry

    THE SHADOW QUEEN, by C.J. Redwine 

    THE PAGES BETWEEN US, by Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom

    BEHOLD THE BONES, Natalie C. Parker    

    Find these and other great, brand new YA titles in the Teen Corner in the first floor reference wing!

  • What to Read in YA Jan

    New year, new you . . . and new YA! While 2015 was a banner year for young adult fiction, 2016 is sallying forth with a lot of new, groundbreaking titles for teens (and the teenaged at heart)! While trend predictions say high fantasy is going to make a comeback this year, many of the titles releasing in January are contemporary works like Francisco X. Stork’s THE MEMORY OF LIGHT and Kelly Fiore’s THICKER THAN WATER. Look to Sarah Fine’s THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN for engrossing high fantasy, or Alexandra Bracken’s PASSENGER for exceptional speculative fiction.  

    Here are the five titles I’m most excited to check out in January:  

    frontlinesFRONT LINES
    By Michael Grant  
    January 26, 2016  

    In FRONT LINES, bestselling author Michael Grant (the GONE series) gives readers an alternate history of World War II, in which women are given the right to enlist in the U.S. military. The novel follows three “soldier girls” through the horrors and challenges of the war, and doesn’t pull any punches when dealing with sexism, racism, and the violence of combat.   Early reviews promise a novel with grit, guts, and heart – this is the book I’m most excited to read in January. I love YA novels – or any sort of story, really – where the girls save themselves.

      

    impostorqueenTHE IMPOSTOR QUEEN
    By Sarah Fine  
    January 5, 2016       

    High fantasy’s always in vogue here at the Provo Library! For readers who enjoyed Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN (2015) or Sara Raasch’s SNOW LIKE ASHES (2014), try Sarah Fine’s IMPOSTOR QUEEN next.   Sixteen-year-old Elli is the Saadella, training to inherit her country’s crown and its strongest fire and ice magic from the queen. But when the former queen dies and Elli receives no magic, she must flee for her life or be killed by the Saadella elders. Filled with magic, adventure, intrigue, and romance, this title will be a crowd-pleaser for the most demanding fantasy fans.  

       

    memoryoflightTHE MEMORY OF LIGHT
    By Francisco X. Stork  
    January 26, 2016  

    Francisco X. Stork’s a marvelous writer, one who focuses particularly and powerfully on teens dealing with mental health issues. His newest novel, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, introduces readers to sixteen-year-old Vicky Cruz, who, after her father sends her beloved yet aging nanny back to Mexico, tries to commit suicide. The novel’s focus, however, is on Vicky’s recovery and the friendships she builds with the other teenage patients in her hospital’s psych ward, relationships that (thankfully) help her discover reasons to keep living.   Utah Valley currently has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the U.S., so I consider novels like A MEMORY OF LIGHT and Jay Asher’s perennial THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (2007) to be integral to the library’s YA collection. Read this and pass it on.    

    whereitendsTHIS IS WHERE IT ENDS
    By Marieke Nijkamp  
    January 5, 2016  

    “Everyone has reason to fear the boy with the gun.” Marieke Nijkamp’s novel takes an unrelenting, brutal look at the 54 minutes in which a teenage gunman holds his high school hostage and mass-murders teachers, students, and adminstrators alike. Told from the perspective of four teens who have personal relationships with the shooter, the novel chronicles the students’ attempts to either stop or survive the horror and heartbreak tearing their school apart.   I wish “timely” wasn’t the adjective that came to mind as I tried to summarize this novel, but this book is basically ripped from the headlines. With more school shootings happening than ever before – and gun lockdowns happening as close as Pleasant Grove – THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS is an important novel for a difficult time.    

    darkdaysTHE DARK DAYS CLUB
    By Alison Goodman  
    January 26, 2016  

    Despite the ominous title, we’re ending on a bright note with Alison Goodman’s THE DARK DAYS CLUB. The novel’s one part Jane Austen, one part BUFFY, and all parts awesome. When one of the housemaids goes missing from eighteen-year-old orphan Lady Helen Wrexhall uncle’s household, Helen takes it upon herself to investigate. What she discovers is a circle of men and women pledged to defend English society against a dangerous (and demonic) enemy, an inheritance of supernatural abilities beyond her wildest dreams, and the love of a not-quite-so-proper English lord who may just understand her better than any other.   Early reviews promise me this title is thoroughly researched; and while the pacing may be a little on the leisurely side, the payoff’s worth the wait. Highly recommended for fans of Gail Carriger’s ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE (2013). Goodman’s THE DARK DAYS CLUB is a Regency romp on the dark side.  

    Make sure not to miss . . .  

    PASSENGER, by Alexandra Bracken
    THICKER THAN WATER, by Kelly Fiore
    THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD, by Emily Henry
    UNDERWATER, by Marisa Reichardt
    IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT, by Paul Rudnick  

    Find these and other great, brand new YA titles in the Teen Corner in the first floor reference wing!

     

  • What to Read in YA MARCH

    Honestly, March is an amazing month for new YA! With the publication of several long-anticipated titles from established authors like Cat Winters, Robison Wells, and Stefan Bachmann; newcomers like Kathryn Purdie and Brittney Cavallaro; and with books coming from personal favorite authors of mine like Sharon Biggs Waller and April Genevieve Tucholke, we’re going to have a lot of amazing new books hitting our shelves next month.

    With so many great books coming out, read on to find out which titles you absolutely cannot afford to miss this month! 

    SteepTHE STEEP AND THORNY WAY
    by Cat Winters
    March 8, 2016

    I will read anything penned by Cat Winters. Anything. From YA to adult, Winters crafts remarkable, affecting, and dark stories steeped in American history; and I find that I walk away from her work not only a little wiser about the world, but a little more wary of it, too. Mix those qualities into a retelling of my favorite Shakespearian play of all time—HAMLET—and you have a recipe for a book I desperate want to read. 

    Add this to your shelf if you enjoy well-wrought historical fiction, or a novel with a slightly creepy edge.  

    FROM THE PUBLISHER:

    1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

    The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

    OrchidTHE FORBIDDEN ORCHID
    by Sharon Biggs Waller
    March 8, 2016

    Sharon Biggs Waller’s thoroughly-researched historical fiction is nothing short of evocative, thrilling, and quite often, unapologetically feminist. Her debut novel, A Mad Wicked Folly, brought the struggle of the British suffragettes to life in a sweeping, cinematic novel of a young woman torn between her place in her rapidly-evolving society, her family, and her own desire to pursue her artistic talents. 

    I expect no less on this second outing with Waller, and am very much looking forward to adventuring across the world with Elodie!  

    FROM THE PUBLISHER:

    Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls' father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China. 

    Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors' prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie's father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. 

    But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?  

    SerpentTHE SERPENT KING
    by Jeff Zentner  
    March 8, 2016

    With a handful of starred reviews to its name, THE SERPENT KING may very well be a book that carries its buzz straight to the end-of-year awards season. With a moving story, powerful prose, and well-wrought characters, fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green should find much to enjoy in Zentner’s new novel.

    Also of note for our Provo patrons: Zentner is an LDS author based out of Nashville, Tennessee.

    FROM THE PUBLISHER:

    Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

    He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town.  And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

    Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

    Wink Poppy MidnightWINK POPPY MIDNIGHT
    by April Genevieve Tucholke  
    March 22, 2016

    I have been waiting for this novel to be published for years. Years, I tell you! When April Tucholke announced that she was working a new YA horror novel, one told in three voices with unreliable narrators and an uncertain antagonist, I knew this would be a book for me. Tucholke’s previous works have been dreamlike, sometimes-terrifying, but always masterfully-written stories of strange girls and odd boys caught in cruel situations. 

    FROM THE PUBLISHER:

    Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

    What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.

    Make sure not to miss . . .  

    1. DARK ENERGY, by Robison Wells
    2. A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, by Brittany Cavallaro
    3. BURNING GLASS, by Kathryn Purdie  
    4. A DROP OF NIGHT, by Stefan Bachmann
    5. REBEL OF THE SANDS, by Alwyn Hamilton
    6. THE GREAT HUNT, by Wendy Higgins  

    Find these and other great, brand new YA titles in the Teen Corner in the first floor reference wing!