The Library is now open Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 7:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. Curbside is still available.
The Library is now open the following hours Monday-Friday 9:00 am - 7:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. Curbside is still available.
 

 

Young Adult

  • superheroes 01

     

    It seems like superheros have taken the world by storm!  These larger-than-life characters fight crime, save lives, and somehow we still relate to them at the end of the day.  If you're a superhero fan, I have a list that will satisfy your need for justice in between movie and comic book releases:

    heroHERO
    by Mike Lupica
    (2010)

    Zach's father was a confidante of the president until he was killed by "the bads."  Now Zach is starting to feel changes: sharpening of his senses, incredible strength and speed, and he's beginning to realize his father was no ordinary man. 

     

    steelheartSTEELHEART
    by Brandon Sanderson
    (2013)

    This inventive book by rockstar Brandon Sanderson turns the notion of Superheroes on its head, asking the question, "What if people got superhero powers and didn't do good with them?"  David Charleston watched his father die when he was young, all at the hands of a heartless but incredibly powerful "epic."  David wants nothing more than to stop Steelheart, but what chance does he stand? 

     

    sooniwillbeSOON I WILL BE INVICIBLE
    by Austin Grossman
    (2007)

    Experience the superhero story from the side of the villain this time!  Doctor Impossible is the world's smartest man with deep thoughts and observations on the world and the people around him, but he won't hesitate to shout, "You'll never take me alive, fools!" when the situation calls for it. 

      

    falsememoryFALSE MEMORY
    by Dan Krokos
    (2012)

    Miranda wakes up on a park bench with no memory, and in her panic she releases an energy that incites terror in everyone around her.  Except one boy who doesn't look surprised at all by her ability.  She must trust him in order to find out what has happened to her.

     

    legendLEGEND
    by Marie Lu
    (2011)

    June is a prodigy who has been groomed for success in the highest military circles.  Day is the country's most wanted criminal.  When their paths cross and they are forced to work together, they realize they have more in common than meets the eye.

  • If you're like me you're still riding on a high from last month's Star Wars release.  The new film brought back all the old feelings I got when I watched Episode 4 for the first time: laughing with beloved characters, believing in the Force, and wanting my own light saber. The only way this feeling can be diminished is realizing it will be 2017 before we get a new Star Wars movie!!  So if you need something to help you pass the time, here's a list of awesome books that will fill the gaping hole in your life left by Star Wars Episode VII.  Each one is an excellent book with an epic tale of good versus evil!

    mistbornMISTBORN
    By Brandon Sanderson

    (2006)

    This book is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES, and even if it's not technically a "teen" book, it has a teen protagonist and is perfectly suitable for Young Adult readers.  It also is a perfect choice for Star Wars fans!  It has interesting, likable characters who discover that they have mythical kick-butt powers, and a truly epic fight between good and evil.   

     

    insigniaINSIGNIA 
    By S. J. Kincaid

    (2012)

    This is a great one for Sci-Fi geeks like me who can't wait to own their own virtual reality unit and start exploring the galaxy.  The main character, Tom, is a sort of VR prodigy who gets noticed by the government for his gaming prowess and is offered a place with the Intrasolar Forces: an elite fighting force controlling the drones out there battling in WWIII. 

     

    gracelingGRACELING
    By Kristin Cashore
    (2008)

    A young protagonist who has special abilities she is just beginning to understand goes on a journey of self discovery.  Sound familiar?  Warning: this one will be hard to put down so make sure to clear some time in your schedule.

      

    readyplayeroneREADY PLAYER ONE 
    By Ernest Cline

    (2011)

    Another technically non-"teen" book that features a teen protagonist and that content-wise I think is suitable for young adults, READY PLAYER ONE is a book I can't recommend enough to fans of sci fi adventures.  Part puzzle solving mystery (think Indiana Jones), part virtual reality reality romp (think The Matrix), and part homage to 1980's nerd culture, this book fits in perfectly with any Star Wars fan. 

     

    icemarkTHE CRY OF THE ICEMARK
    By Stuart Hill

    (2005)

    Thirrin is a beautiful princess but also an intrepid warrior, and she must find a way to protect her land from a terrible invasion.  She'll need to ally with strange creatures and cultures in order to lead her people to victory.  Fans of Leia will follow Thirrin with interest to see if she can rise above all of her challenges.

      

     

    Hopefully a few of these will scratch that Star Wars itch we'll all be plagued with until next year!!  Until then... may the force be with you.

  • cats and kissing 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you. Today's iteration takes a romp through young adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and romance to bring you some of our favorite things: cats and kissing. 

    THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH
    by Ali Benjamin

    (2015)

    Suzy Swanson is a teenage girl trying to make sense of a new school and new peers, but that's been hard to do ever since the death of her best friend, Franny. Suzy is also a budding scientist, and when she learns about the Irukandji Jellyfish she develops a new hypothesis about what really happened to her friend.

    CAT SENSE: HOW THE NEW FELINE SCIENCE CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER FRIEND TO YOUR PET
    by John Bradshaw 
    (2013)

    Scientist John Bradshaw explains how cats evolved from lone predators to domestic companions with the hope that people will understand their cats better and provide a more harmonious environment for them. 

    DEWEY: THE SMALL-TOWN LIBRARY CAT WHO TOUCHED THE WORLD
    by Vicki Myron
    (2008)

    Dewey Readmore Books, a cat, was found one morning in the Spencer, Iowa library. Dewey was adopted by librarian, Vicki Myron who was his caring owner for the next 19 years. Dewey changed Vicki's life and touched the lives of many more. 

    TROUBLE WHEN YOU WALKED IN
    by Kieran Kramer
    (2015) 

    Cissie Rogers is a librarian in a small town in North Carolina. When Mayor, Boone Braddock puts the library's future in peril, Cissie decides to take matters into her own hands by running for mayor herself. What Cissie doesn't count on is a developing relationship with her opponent. 

    THE PORTABLE VEBLEN
    by Elizabeth McKenzie
    (2016)

    A young couple in a developing relationship discover how complex love can be as they encounter everything from dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive heiress, to an encounter with a very charismatic squirrel.   

    KISSING IN AMERICA
    by Margo Rabb
    (2015)

    Two teenage girls, Eva and Annie, discover how complex love can be as they journey across the country to find Will— the boy Ava thinks is her soul mate.

     

     

  • 6 degrees header 01 

     

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    This week: Chaos and Comedy! 

     chaos and comedy 01

    THE DISASTER DIARIES
    by Sam Sheridan
    (2013)

    There are a variety of ways that the world could be thrown into chaos and Sheridan has researched and acquired a variety of skills to help him survive almost any potential apocalypse. His lively and hilarious style while still presenting disastrous scenarios is a wonderful mix.

    LIFE AS WE KNEW IT
    by Susan Beth Pfeffer
    (2006)

    A young woman takes charge of her life and her family’s lives as survival becomes increasingly difficult after the world is thrown into chaos when the moon is knocked out of its orbit.

    LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD
    by Sheryl Sandberg
    (2013)

    Sandberg is a woman who has taken charge of her life and encourages others to do so by following their ambitions. She tells it like it is and strives to be an inspiration to women everywhere.

    BOSSYPANTS
    by Tina Fey
    (2011)

    Best known for her work on 30 Rock and SNL, Fey relates her life story in her own comedic way. She tries to emphasize that she’s just like the rest of us, while being a role model and an inspiration to all women.

    IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME
    by Mindy Kaling
    (2011)

    Mindy is an Emmy-nominated, comedy writer and actress, and uses this book to relate her life story in her own comedic way.

    SERIOUSLY, I'M KIDDING
    by Ellen DeGeneres
    (2011)

    Ellen has become one of the most popular daytime TV hosts, having won 31 Emmys. Her lively, hilarious, and upbeat style is engaging and enjoyable.

  • spies and secrets 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you. Today's iteration features young adult fiction titles and some of our favorite things: finishing school, spies, servants, and secrets. 

    ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE
    by Gail Carriger
    (2013)

    In an alternate England of 1851, spirited and clever fourteen-year-old Sophronia is enrolled in a finishing school where lessons include dance, dress, and etiquette alongside espionage, poisoning, hand-to-hand fighting, and deceit. Not only does Sophronia excel at her lessons, but she also manages to solve a mystery—and fall in love—during her first year.

    LEVIATHAN
    by Scott Westerfeld
    (2009)

    In an alternate 1914 WWI Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, fleeing the Russian Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn, who disguised herself as a boy to join the British Air Service and is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.

    A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS
    by Eva Ibbotson
    (1981) 

    Young Russian countess Anna must flee to England after the Russian Revolution. She hides her identity and becomes a servant for an important family. But will she be able to suppress her attraction to Rupert, the dashing Earl of Westerholme?

    MAID OF SECRETS
    by Jennifer McGowan
    (2013)

    In 1559 England, Meg, an orphaned thief, is pressed to become a servant for the Maids of Honor, Queen Elizabeth I's secret all-female guard, but her loyalty is tested when she falls in love with a Spanish courtier who may be a threat.

    PALACE OF SPIES
    by Sarah Zettel          
    (2013)

    In 1716 London, an orphaned sixteen-year-old girl from a good family impersonates a lady-in-waiting only to discover that the real girl was murdered, the court harbors a nest of spies, and the handsome young artist who is helping her solve the mystery might be a spy himself.

    GRAVE MERCY
    by R.L. LaFevers
    (2012)

    In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Brittany, seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where lessons include espionage, poisoning, hand-to-hand fighting, and deceit. When the convent sends her to Brittany’s court to protect its young princess, Ismae discovers the court harbors a nest of murderers and spies. It will take all of Ismae’s skills and charms to keep the young princess—and herself—alive.

  • YA sequels

     

    The pain is familiar to you: you pick up that book you've been hearing so much about, devour its contents, and then get to the last page only to discover that there is a SEQUEL planned, which means that instead of wrapping everything up nicely there are cliffhangers that will just leave you dangling, waiting and waiting and WAITING until the next book is published (a year later?! What makes publishers think we have this kind of patience?). For these 9 series, 2016 means that your wait is (at least temporarily) over!

    GLASS SWORD
    by Victoria Aveyard
    Release date: February 9th, 2016

    This is the second book in the RED QUEEN trilogy, which opened up at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2015. Universal Pictures has already acquired the film rights so you know this one will be a popular read. It continues with the heroine Mare Barrow running for her life as she deals with her own personal darkness and the growing rebel uprising. A captivating fantasy full of action packed drama, romance, and all the fun of dystopian fiction.     

    THE LAST STAR
    by Rick Yancey
    Release date: May 24th, 2016

    The third and final book in the sci-fi apocalyptic 5TH WAVE series is finally here. This epic conclusion will determine the fate of planet Earth in a wildly entertaining page turner. This too has a film planned starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson.      

    THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER
    by Renee Ahdieh
    Release date: May 3rd, 2016

    Inspired by the classic Arabian Nights this is the followup to THE WRATH AND THE DAWN (2015).  Protagonist Shahrzad is torn between loyalties to those she loves but she determines to not be a pawn in the schemes and takes matters into her own hands as she learns to harness her powers. This lush and fast-paced novel keeps you intrigued with curses, subplots, romance and a culturally diverse setting.    

    A COURT OF MIST AND FURY
    by Sarah J Maas
    Release date: May 3rd, 2016

    This sequel to A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, tells of Fayre as the High Fae in the Night Court and the twisted politics, power and passions between good and evil therein. This seductive, action packed fantasy is sure to please fans.    

    A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT
    by Sabaa Tahir
    Release date: August 30th, 2016

    Number two of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, picks up where the previous ended with adventures and journeys fighting against the evil in the empire. Laia and Elias struggle to free her brother from prison in the north; meanwhile in the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla must juggle loyalty, love and power around the twisted leader Marcus.  

    THE CROWN
    by Kiera Cass
    Release date: May 3rd, 2016

    Cass’s fifth and the SELECTION series finale picks up with Eadlyn and her 35 suitors-dilemma as she realizes that she won’t be happy to remain alone. Eadlyn doesn’t believe that she can have the happily ever after fairytale that her parents were blessed with but the heart has a way of surprising you and Eadlyn is forced to make an important choice. Romantic, fast paced and engaging, this novel will wrap up the series in a satisfying way.  

    THE SHADOW HOUR
    by Melissa Grey
    Release date: July 12th, 2016

    Book number two of the GIRL AT MIDNIGHT series, Grey writes a world-building, urban fantasy continuing the story of Echo, the firebird--a creature of light that is said to bring peace. Echo has already overcome many losses but must struggle with dangers near and far, as well as learn to use her own powers.   

    YELLOW BRICK WAR
    by Danielle Paige
    Release date: March 15th, 2016

    Number three of the best-selling DOROTHY MUST DIE series tells of Amy Gumm’s mission to take down the evil dictator of Oz and Kansas--the not-so-sweet Dorothy Gale. Amy joins forces with the Revolutionary order of the Wicked to finally defeat her in this dark and gruesome tale full of magic, suspense and action.    

    THE WINNER’S KISS
    by Marie Rutkoski
    Release date: March 29th, 2016

    This final book in THE WINNER’S trilogy is complex and suspenseful as Arin believes the worst in Kestrel’s past behavior while she is in fact prisoner in a war camp. The war between East and West escalates as this fantasy tale unfolds, revealing the true nature of the characters and their love.   

     

  •  Book giving

    Young Adult novels are some of my favorites, from the ones that are old friends to new ones that I can hardly put down. The following are some of my favorites from this year that you could give to anyone without worry or concern. I've made sure to only include books which are at the beginning of the series or standalones so you don’t have to worry about giving someone an entire series.

    12.22 Traitors GameTHE TRAITOR’S GAME
    By Jennifer Nielsen
    (2018)

    After three years in exile, Kestra Dallisor has been summoned back to Antora by her father, right-hand man of the seemingly immortal king, Lord Endrick. She is intercepted and kidnapped by the Coracks who want to use her to get the Olden Blade, which they believe can be used to kill the despot. Simon, one of the rebels with his own grudge against the Dallisors, is assigned to accompany her, but Kestra has her own plans and does not intend to let anyone get in her way.

     

    12.22 Children of Blood and BoneCHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE
    By Tomi Adeymi
    (2018)

    Zelie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. Ever since the reaping, which killed her mother and many of the sorcerers, Zelie and her people have been living on the outskirts of society, praying for survival. That is until Zelie, her brother, and a runaway princess get the opportunity to change the fate of the world.

     

    12.22 Cruel PrinceTHE CRUEL PRINCE
    by Holly Black
    (2018)

    Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans, especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

     

    12.22 The Wicked DeepTHE WICKED DEEP
    by Shea Ernshaw
    (2018)

    Three sisters, drowned as witches in Sparrow, Oregon, in the 1800s, return each summer for revenge, but Penny, seventeen, is determined to stop them to save the boy she loves.

     

    12.22 Sea WitchSEA WITCH
    by Sarah Hennings
    (2018)

    Rendered an outcast in town after her friend Anna's death, Evie befriends a newcomer with an uncanny likeness to Anna. When the girls pursue romances with two charming princes, Evie has a chance at happiness until her new friend reveals a secret.

     

    12.22 SkywardSKYWARD
    by Brandon Sanderson
    (2018)

    When a long-term attack against her world by the alien Krell escalates, Spensa's dream of becoming a pilot may come true, despite her deceased father being labeled a deserter.

     

    12.22 To Kill a KingdomTO KILL A KINGDOM
    by Alexandra Christo
    (2018)

    Lira, a famous siren, must prove herself by stealing the heart of the man, a prince, threatening her race. Will she be able to overcome the obstacles placed before her?

     
    Looking for other holiday giving ideas? Check out our recommendations for adult fiction, more adult fiction, nonfiction, more nonfiction, and picture books.
  •  Judging a Book By Its Cover 628

    A while back, I shared one of my favorite librarian hobbies – spotting copycat book covers. Since then, I’ve kept an eagle eye out for more, and I’ve discovered a surprising and strangely specific trend in 2017 and 2018 cover art: the shiny bug.

    This past publishing year has produced a handful of gorgeous covers featuring intricate, stylized, metallic insects. It’s an unlikely trend, but a beautiful one.

    10.12 Dreadful Young LadiesDREADFUL YOUNG LADIES: AND OTHER STORIES
    By Kelly Barnhill
    (2018)

     

    10.12 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017) 

     

    10.12 Bruja BornBRUJA BORN
    By Zoraida Cordova
    (2018)

     

    10.12 The Moth PresentsTHE MOTH PRESENTS ALL THESE WONDERS
    By Catherine Burns
    (2017)

     

    Like just about everything, book cover art follows trends (we’re capitalists, y’all). In the 80s and 90s, chick lit, with its pastel illustrations, dominated YA.  During my teen years in the early 2000s, it was all about bright, solid colors, à la THE PRINCESS DIARIES and SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (tangent, but Rachel Hawkins recent book ROYALS seems to harken back to that style). More recently, books like THE LUXE and THE SELECTION spawned a seemingly endless parade of ball gown-centric cover art.

    So where’d all these glittery bugs come from? I see it as part of a larger trend that I’m pretty jazzed about:  a move away from depicting characters and towards gorgeous lettering. I’ve written about a few of my favorite covers in this style before, and I plan to share more soon.

    So, what are some of your favorite book covers? Have you noticed any recent trends in cover art?

  • magical circuses

     

    Read-alikes: library jargon for “If you like this, you’ll probably also like this other thing!” Those of us who work at libraries are constantly on the hunt for read-alikes both as a professional courtesy to our patrons and as a way to satisfy our own voracious reading appetites. 

    (We have a variety of resources to find great read-alikes; the easiest way to find them is to click on the “Reading Suggestions” tab of our website). 

    One read-alike game I like to play is to find similar books across audiences. Can I find the writing qualities and characteristics of adult fiction authors I love in a middle-grade book? What about a book for teens? It’s a little bit like watching fiction grow up. So today I have for you three books that I feel like share some striking similarities even though they’re written for vastly different audiences. Three books; three audiences; three magical settings rich with detail and complex characters. Magical realism for all ages. 

    MIDDLE-GRADE 

    11.2.17 Circus MirandusCIRCUS MIRANDUS
    By Cassie Beasley
    (2015)

    Micah Tuttle has grown up hearing stories of a magical circus his grandpa visited as a boy. Now that his grandpa is dying, he sets off to find the mysterious circus in order to save his grandpa’s life. The narrative jumps back and forth between present day Micah and his new friend/school project partner Jenny on their quest to save his grandpa and his grandpa’s experiences as a boy at the circus. Kids with vivid imaginations will love the lush description of Circus Mirandus. 

     

     

    YOUNG ADULT

    11.2 CaravalCARAVAL
    By Stephanie Garber
    (2017)

    Okay, this one isn’t exactly a circus, but it is a magical, carnival-like setting. With an arranged marriage on the horizon, Scarlett figures this is her only chance to realize her dream of seeing Caraval, a legendary audience-participation event. When she and her sister arrive, things get much more complicated than they imagined, and the consequences turn dire fairly quickly.

    As is the case for most young adult books, we trade the innocent guy/girl helpful friendship of the middle-grade years for a fast-paced, “I hate you/I love you” storyline.There is banter; there is kissing; there is action, and adventure, and magic, and a carousel that my imagination loves to ride again and again. 

    ADULT FICTION 

    11.2.2017 The Night CircusTHE NIGHT CIRCUS
    By Erin Morgenstern 
    (2011) 

    I could go on and on about THE NIGHT CIRCUS; I read it about a year after its release, and I’ve honestly been looking for adequate read-alikes ever since. It wasn’t until this year that I’ve actually felt like I found them (hence this post!). Reading THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a sensory experience; not many novels can hold up to occasional second-person narration, but it’s perfect here. When I read it, I crave caramel popcorn and hot chocolate. The descriptions of the circus are rich and vivid and I’m always sad it doesn’t exist for real. 

    THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a long, magical game, pitting two champions, Celia and Marco, against one another in a magical battle to the death (though it takes years of competing to realize this). In THE NIGHT CIRCUS, we trade that fierce, instant love of teenage years (CARAVAL takes place over just three days!) for a nuanced relationship born in intrigue and cultivated through hearty and beautiful and, ultimately, deadly competition.

    I should also mention that I’ve listened to all three of these as audiobooks, and I actually recommend that if you’ve got the time and resources (which you do, thanks to the library!). This is especially the case with THE NIGHT CIRCUS, which is read by Jim Dale and is just delightful.

  • Arthur

    One of the greatest legends of all time is the story of King Arthur and the Round Table. I have always been intrigued by the people, magic, and mystery that surrounds this story. We previously have shared five different versions of the story, but here are six more titles to further expand your Arthurian knowledge.  

    9.11 A Squires TaleTHE SQUIRE’S TALE
    By Gerald Morris
    (1998)

    In medieval England, 14-year-old Terence finds his tranquil life changed suddenly when he becomes the squire of the young Gawain and accompanies him on a long quest to prove Gawain’s worth as a knight and reveal a secret about Terence’s true identity. Morris has a whole series of Arthurian books that feature Terence and the Knights of Camelot. They are witty and full of adventure and magic. Great for older children and teens. 

     

    9.11 Over Sea Under StoneOVER SEA, UNDER STONE
    By Susan Cooper
    (1965)

    Three children are on vacation in Cornwall when they find an ancient manuscript that sends them on a dangerous quest in the battle between the forces of the Light and the Dark. This is the first book in Cooper’s THE DARK IS RISING series and is a classic for a reason. There is lots of adventure, magic, and family dynamics as they race against the clock to defeat the Dark. 

     

    9.11 Avalon HighAVALON HIGH
    By Meg Cabot
    (2006)

    High school junior Ellie has just enrolled at Avalon High School when strange things start to happen, and it seems that some of her classmates may be reincarnations of King Arthur and his court. I remember reading this book as a teen, and absolutely loved it. It is fun to see Arthur set in contemporary time, and Cabot manages to throw in some surprises that keep the characters and the reader on their toes. 

     

    9.11 Once and FutureONCE AND FUTURE
    By Amy Rose Capetta
    (2019)

    King Arthur’s most recent reincarnation is 17-year-old Ari, a female king who fights a tyrannical corporate government who is taking over the solar system, with the aid of her friends and a teenaged Merlin. Camelot in Space! A fun mix of futuristic technology and medieval jousting and chivalry, a group of diverse teenagers tries to stop an evil corporation from destroying the solar system. 

     

    9.11 The Guinevere DeceptionTHE GUINEVERE DECEPTION
    By Kiersten White
    (2019)

    In order to protect King Arthur, the banished Merlin has sent a 16-year-old changling to Camelot, where her magic is outlawed, to impersonate the deceased Guinevere. In a court torn between the old and new, Guinevere must try to keep Arthur safe while keeping her true identity hidden. Full of deadly jousts, forbidden romances, and complex characters, this is a great read for readers who love fantasy and mystery. 

     

    9.11 Tomorrows MagicTOMORROW’S MAGIC
    By Pamela Service
    (2007)

    This 2-in-1 volume follows a young, resurrected Merlin as he tries to bring back King Arthur and stop Morgan Le Fey in the wake of a nuclear holocaust. Set in a post-nuclear apocalypse time, Merlin is trying to resurrect Arthur with the help of two boarding school outcasts and stop the evil Morgan Le Fey. This futuristic tale will appeal to both Arthurian purists and fantasy lovers. Have I missed any of your favorite Arthurian adaptations? Be sure to share them in the comments.

     
  • Fanx 

    The Salt Lake Comic Convention FanX is coming to town September 5-7. As many of you are aware, comic conventions are the ultimate experience for anyone who loves interesting TV shows, cult classics, and the latest super hero wonder. Oh, and my personal favorite: books!

    Every year authors make their way to the Salt Palace to meet current and future readers. They set up booths, attend panels, and put together signings. As an avid reader, I enjoy being able to bring my own books, get them signed, and chat with authors I adore. I also always find time to wind up and down the aisles in search for my next great read.

    Since I’m sure not all of you can make it to FanX, I’ve decided to spotlight some of the authors attending for you. This way, you too can become a fan of the great authors at Salt Lake’s own convention.

    For a complete list, please visit the FanX Author page (https://fanxsaltlake.com/authors/)

    8.30 Ink and AshesINK AND ASHES
    By Valynne E. Maetani
    (2015)

    Debut novel for Utah author Valynne E. Maetani.This book follows the mystery of Claire Takata’s father, who passed away when she was a little girl. After discovering a letter from this deceased father to her step father at the age of 17, Claire begins to search for answers, which eventually lead to unsuspecting places, such as the Japanese mafia. In his Goodreads review for this novel,  author Brandon Sanderson said, “I can sincerely say this was one of the best books I’ve read this year… An artful blend of Japanese culture, solid mystery, interesting characters, and an excellent use of viewpoint.” Please step into the mystery of this young adult novel!

     

    8.30 Mustaches for MaddieMUSTACHES FOR MADDIE
    By Chad Morris
    (2017)

    Based on the true story of Chad Morris’s own daughter, Mustaches for Maddie follows the life of 12 year old Maddie as she tries to impress school-mate Cassie with her collection of fake mustaches. Sadly, Maddie is self-conscious of her right arm, as it is only comfortable pressed close to her chest. When Maddie and her parents discover that her arm’s discomfort is actually the result of a brain tumor, Maddie must find the courage to confront the operating room and also the kids at school.

     

    8.27 DefyDEFY
    By Sara B. Larson
    (2014)

    The first book in a Young Adult Fantasy series. Considered by many fans to be inspired by Mulan, the novel follows Alexa Hollen. Alex, after disguising her true gender and joining the king’s Army, successfully makes her way up the ranks until she is a member of the prince’s elite guard. But even with her unquestionable skill, Alex can’t prevent the abduction of herself, a fellow guard, and the prince in the dead of night. In her attempt to protect the kingdom, secrets are revealed and strength is tested.

     

    8.30 Promise of BloodPROMISE OF BLOOD
    By Brian McCellan
    (2013)

    “The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it. It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...” Yes, I used the original two sentences of the blurb on the back because that is an epic way to introduce a fantasy novel. With this first book, Brian McCellan is slowly rising to a big name in the Epic Fantasy fandom. The story revolves around Field Marshal Tamas and the aftermath of his assassination of the king. With this, the book produces a revolution rife with political intrigue in a world that mixing gunpowder and marksmen with the magic of mages.

     
  • Back to School

    The first month back to school after summer is a doozy. Students are tired, anxious, and cranky, but are suddenly expected to perform at their top-notch academic game! How can we help our students have a smoother transition into each new school year? One piece of advice from seasoned teachers is to give students a chance to “escape” every day through reading a good book. Check out the books below that are perfect for an escape! 

    9.11 A Dragons Guide to the Care and Feeding of HumansA DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS
    By Laurence Yep
    (2015)

    Perfect for ages 8-12, this whimsical book takes the reader on a magical adventure with a cantankerous dragon, Miss Drake, and her ten year old human “pet,” Winnie. Miss Drake teaches Winnie about all the secret, magical things that happen right under people’s noses. 

     

    9.11 Mila 2.0MILA 2.0
    By Debra Driza
    (2013)

    An engaging, suspenseful thriller for teens, Mila 2.0 is the story of a girl who discovers that she is living a lie. She wasn’t supposed to learn the truth about who she is; now that she has, her life in is danger. 

     

    9.11 Over Sea Under StoneOVER SEA, UNDER STONE
    By Susan Cooper
    (1965)

    Great for ages 8 and up, this novel series withstands the test of time. This book is the first volume in Cooper’s famed “The Dark Is Rising” series that takes readers on a dangerous quest with three children who happen upon an ancient manuscript. They soon become locked in a battle between the forces of the Light and the forces of the Dark. 

     

    9.11 The Wild RobotTHE WILD ROBOT
    By Peter Brown
    (2016)

    This fantasy book for children/teens follows the story of Roz the Robot who wakes up one day, alone on an island, with no idea how she came to be there. Her only hope for survival is to learn to get along with the island’s animals. Readers will love cheering for Roz as she struggles to fit into a world where she doesn’t seem to belong.

     
  • BB 2016 FB

    Each of us has read dozens of teen books in the last year in preparation to share the Best Young Adult Books of 2016. Not everything we read was a contender L. In the end, we along with two other colleagues have compiled our 50 favorite teen reads. Here are five books that ALMOST made the cut, but not quite.

    Darcy Swipes LeftDARCY SWIPES LEFT
    by Courtney Carbone
    (2016)

    Jane Austen meets the smart phone in this fun, modern telling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Told via text messages, emoticons, emails, and more; I really enjoyed this version of the classic. The book was fast paced and less detailed than the original, but the story line was still true to the characters that generations have come to love. In the end, I found that there were just a few other books that I wanted to talk about more than this one.

     

     

    TruthwitchTRUTHWITCH
    by Susan Dennard
    (2016)

    This book is loaded with political intrigue, magic, thrilling fight scenes, mythical creatures, and romance.   Two best friends, both gifted with special magical abilities, are faced with a world on the verge of war.  TRUTHWITCH just barely missed our top 50 list.  The political intrigue and complicated plot (that many people will love) didn’t work for me quite as much as I wanted and other standout novels were able to slide this exciting adventure out of my ‘best of the best’ list.

     

     

     

    Tell Me Something RealTELL ME SOMETHING REAL 
    by Calla Devlin
    (2016)

    When the three Babcock sisters learn something that makes them question everything their tight-knit family is founded on, they all have to come to terms with things in their own way. To be honest, I liked this book better than some of the other books I’m going to talk about at Best Books. It kept me guessing all the way through, the writing was beautiful, and I thought it was really well done.  The thing that held me back from showcasing this one is the setting.  Set in 1976, this book is a little too contemporary for me to classify as historical fiction, but the world has changed a lot since then.  Although I think teens will enjoy this book, it feels more like a book written to appeal to adults who read YA, rather than to teens themselves.

     

    This Adventure EndsTHIS ADVENTURE ENDS 
    by Emma Mills
    (2016)

    Emma Mills got a lot of praise for her 2015 book, FIRST & THEN, which I haven’t read.  I need to fix this problem immediately, however, because I read THIS ADVENTURE ENDS in almost one sitting.  This book, about a group of friends all dealing with the changes that being a senior in high school brings, was so fun!  I loved how real the characters felt, but they didn’t take themselves too seriously.  It even has a Nicholas Sparks-like character that loses his motivation to write, and finds it again by writing what is basically Vampire Academy fanfiction.  At the end of the day, I had to choose, and I felt like some of the award winners I’d read should be showcased more than this one despite my love for it.

     

    Holding Up the Universe   Blog SizeHOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE 
    by Jennifer Niven
    (2016)

    Jennifer Niven’s books are always well written with great characters and emotional complexity. She doesn’t shy away from harsh topics and this book is no exception. Libby Strout is overweight, but that seems to be the only thing people know or want to know about her. Jack Masselin is a confident boy despite the fact that he is unable to recognize faces. Jack and Libby are not in the same social class at school, yet the more they get to know each other the more they recognize their similarities rather than their differences. Since we recommended Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES last year, we decided to give another author some recognition this year.

     

     To see what we did make the cut, join us for The Best Books of 2016 on February 22nd!

     

     

  • best love stories

     

    So, after Christmas, the next holiday stores go gaga for is Valentine’s Day. Patrons start seeing everything from chocolate to obnoxiously stuffed teddy bears with satin hearts attached to them. Sadly none of this ties back to the myth behind one of the original St. Valentines; it is not well documented which St. Valentines was the original. But one of the myths behind this holiday according to history.com is that during the third century, the Roman emperor Claudius II decided that unmarried men made better soldiers than men with wives and children. So he banned all marriages for young men.  The story goes that even though it was illegal and eventually cost Valentine his life he continued after the edict to marry the young couples in love. Read story here

    In honor of all those lovers who got to be united in matrimony all those centuries ago, I and some of my co-workers have compiled a list of some of our favorite love stories captured by books. This is by no means a complete list but hopefully it gives some amazing stories for you to consider reading this upcoming Valentines season.

    Benedict & Beatrice
    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
    by William Shakespeare
    1600

    I love the relationship between these two. Confirmed bachelor and bachelorette who hate each other end up finding something to love about the other after their friends set them up. This is my favorite Shakespearian comedy.

    Anne & Gilbert
    ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
    by L.M. Montgomery
    1908

    Proof relationships aren’t always about first impressions. My favorite memory will always be Anne smashing her tablet over Gilbert’s head. As time passes she eventually forgives him for humiliating her in class. I love watching the dynamic develop between these two as they grow up and mature into adults. This is an amazing series with beautiful scenes all throughout the books.

    Wesley & Buttercup
    PRINCESS BRIDE
    by William Goldman
    1973

    Relationships start with someone being kind. I love how they show that it takes work to not only begin a relationship but it takes fighting for what you want and sacrifice, to keep a relationship going. Not to mention this book is dripping with humor and hilarious situations, which makes it an all-around amazing read.

    Hazel & Gus
    FAULT IN OUR STARS
    by John Green
    2012

    Love can make a difference even if only around for a short time.  I like this love story because it is so much more real than the immature Romeo and Juliet where they promise to commit suicide together and then never get to actually know what love is like because they are dead. There are so many things wrong with Romeo and Juliet I won’t get started. What I love about Gus and Hazel is that they do make a difference in each other’s lives. They are there for each other even when life is knocking them upside the head and they don’t feel like being strong anymore. 

    Jane & Mr. Rochester
    JANE EYRE
    by Charlotte Bronte
    1847

    Everyone deserves a chance at true love even if you didn’t know what you were doing the first time around. I have heard a lot of people give Mr. Rochester grief because he was hiding his first wife in his attic. Which okay, taken in or out of context is not an honest thing to do.  But I love how this story allows for second chances and for there to be growth and a happy ending even if things go terribly the first time around.

     

     

  • BB 2017 FB

    2017 was a great year for YA books, as will be evident on February 20th, when we present our fifty favorite Young Adult books of 2017 in the Brimhall room, #302 at 7:00 pm.  As book lovers, we’ve been agonizing over which books published in 2017 really are the best.  To whet your appetites for February 20th, and as an excuse to sneak in a few more book recommendations, here are a few (almost equally amazing) books that didn’t make the cut.

    2.13 Batman I Am GothamBATMAN: I AM GOTHAM
    By Tom King

    This graphic novel, and the subsequent series, serves as an excellent examination of the Batman character and his motivations and flaws. The novel introduces new characters who help Batman save Gotham and may allow him to give up crime fighting for good! The artwork is fantastic, the new characters are deep and sympathetic, and the action is exciting, which makes it a great addition to the Batman mythos.  We’re reviewing a few other superhero graphic novels at Best Books, so unfortunately Batman won’t get his well-deserved shout-out.

     

    2.13 The Names They Give UsTHE NAMES THEY GAVE US
    By Emery Lord

    When her perfectly planned summer of quality time with her parents, her serious boyfriend, and her Bible camp unravels and long-hidden family secrets emerge, Lucy must figure out what she is made of and what grace really means.  I really liked the way this book touched on issues like questioning faith and having a great support system when tough times come.  In the end, I liked a few other books a little bit more, so this one didn’t make the cut.

     

    12.13 Song of the CurrentSONG OF THE CURRENT
    By Sarah Tolcser

    Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. Her father is a wherryman, as was her grandmother. All Caro needs is for the river god to whisper her name, and her fate is sealed. When her father is arrested, Caro volunteers to transport mysterious cargo in exchange for his release. Secretly, Caro hopes that by piloting her own wherry, the river god will finally speak her name. This book has a great story, interesting characters who learn and grow, and a dash of magic.  The only thing keeping me from recommending this book is that I felt like I needed to highlight books from other genres a little bit more.

     

    2.13 The WoodTHE WOOD
    By Chelsea Bobulski

    Winter has grown up with her father, who is the guardian of a magical wood where thresholds to other places and times open, and occasionally people wander through. Then Winter’s father disappears, and a boy from the 1700s refuses to return to his time. He claims to have information that could help Winter find her father, but how can anyone from hundreds of years earlier know about her father? I got this recommendation from a co-worker who reads a lot of YA, but who wasn’t part of the Best Books team.  Since no one on the team read the book, it won’t be spotlighted at the event, but I thought everyone should know about it just the same. 

     
  • 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! 

  • Book Blind Date

    It’s been a while since my last segment as I was hoping to leave you with some nice alone time with your book. But love is, after all, a fickle thing and perhaps you are again on the search for a great night out (or in).

    Below are four eligible and mysterious book-bachelors.  If one interests you, just scroll down and go ahead and check it out (in more ways than one perhaps).

    Please check out Blind Date with a Book round one and two for more enjoyable reads.

    BLIND DATE #1

    • Science Fiction
    • YA novel
    • Teenagers in space.
    • Dystopian premise, often compared to The Hunger Games.
    • Complex female protagonist.
    • Romance, betrayal, intrigue.
     

    BLIND DATE #2

    • Internationally acclaimed realistic fiction.
    • Historical fiction spanning from World War I to the present.
    • Contemporary take on PTSD.
    • Moving and memorable characters 
     

    BLIND DATE #3

    • Historical fantasy
    • Brings two distinctly different cultures together
    • Magical, a bit scary, unforgettable
    • A woman attempting to find her destiny in a man’s world.
     

    BLIND DATE #4

    • A book about books.
    • Focused on an important British figure.
    • Utterly charming and humorous.
    • Written by a Tony award winning playwright.
     
     
     

    01.10 Glow#1: GLOW
    By Amy Kathleen Ryan
    (2011)

     

    01.10 Birdsong#2: BIRDSONG
    By Sebastion Faulks
    (1993) 

     

    01.10 The Enchantress of Florence#3: THE ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE
    By Salman Rushdie
    (2008) 

     

    01.10 The Uncommon Reader#4: THE UNCOMMON READER
    By Alan Bennett
    (2007) 

     
  • Springtime Tree Blossoms

    I don’t know about you, but for the six weeks or so, I’ve been craving comfort foods and comfort reads. Instead of trying new, adventurous, nutritious recipes, I’ve been digging out old recipe cards and calling family members to see if they remember that one thing Grandma made when we were kids. Similarly, I haven’t had the mental space to crack open dark, angsty, or overly technical reads that I might normally be up for. There’s enough to worry about in the real world, so instead my reading time, especially at the end of the day, is focused on charming classics that I’ve loved for years.  

    As I’m guessing is the case for many of you, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES is the first book of that sort that comes to mind for me. So if you love Anne and you’d like something similar, this post and the follow-up next Friday are for you! Next week I’ll share well-known books you really ought to read if you haven’t already, but this week is a deeper dive into lesser-known Anne Shirley-esque reads. Some of the author names will likely be familiar, but these particular books fly under the radar when compared with the popularity of the Green Gables series. Nevertheless, they all feature smart, lovable heroines finding their way through girlhood and teenage life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Just like the treats I’ve been making from old family recipes, these books are sweet, familiar, and mood-lifting, just what we need in the middle of a global pandemic.

    5.1 An Old Fashioned GirlAN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL
    By Louisa May Alcott
    (1869)

    This is my go-to read when I need a pick-me-up. LITTLE WOMEN might officially be my favorite book, but I think I read An Old-Fashioned Girl more often, especially since it’s short enough to finish in an evening or two. This sweet story of a country girl visiting her glamorous city friends might be a little heavy-handed in its moralizing, but isn’t that part of its charm? Best of all, its main character, Polly, combines some of the best characteristics of the four March sisters. She’s kind and hardworking and tries hard to be good, but she has enough weaknesses and quirks to make her lovable. And then there’s Tom, a mischievous, good-hearted, boyish boy who’s sure to win your heart.

     

    5.1 Daddy Long LegsDADDY LONG LEGS
    By Jean Webster
    (1912)

    Though I didn’t grow up reading this book, the Hale Center Theater’s delightful two-person musical production last year left me charmed and deeply contented in a way only my favorite childhood reads can. I read the book a short while later and discovered that my favorite aspects of the play – Jerusha’s personality and the clever dialogue – came directly from the book. But just ignore the existence of the Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron movie musical from the fifties – there’s no horrifyingly large age gap to worry about here.At the beginning of the story, Jerusha Abbot, the oldest orphan in the John Greer Home, has few prospects in life. Fortunately, an anonymous benefactor, whom Jerusha dubs “Daddy Long Legs,” decides to fund her further education. Jerusha heads off to a women’s college, where she writes Daddy Long Legs regular letters about her experiences. Witty, observant, and romantic, Jerusha’s a character loveable enough to rival Anne Shirley. And if you like Daddy Long Legs, be sure to read DEAR ENEMY too, just be prepared for a few casually positive references to eugenics that are jarring to read today.

     

    5.1 The Blue CastleTHE BLUE CASTLE
    By L.M. Montgomery
    (1926)

    Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote several other books and series beyond Anne of Green Gables, and this is my favorite of them. In The Blue Castle, Valancy Stirling has grown up in a rigidly strict home with domineering and often cruel family members. She’s always been quiet and submissive, willing to go along with her family’s claim that she’s unattractive and destined for mediocrity. When she receives a letter making her feel like time’s running out, Valancy throws caution to the wind and goes after exactly what – and who – she wants in her life. 

     

    5.1 Heaven to BetsyHEAVEN TO BETSY
    By Maud Hart Lovelace
    (1945)

    Even if you don’t recognize the title of the Betsy-Tacy series, you’ve heard of it before if you’ve ever watched you’ve got mail. Based on the author’s girlhood, this series follows Betsy Ray and her best friend Tacy from the age of five all the way through early adulthood. Feel free to read them all in order, but know that the early books are aimed at younger readers. If you’re wanting the Anne of Green Gables vibe, I’d recommend starting with Heaven to Betsy, which takes place during Betsy’s freshman year of high school in the early 1900s. Betsy and her friends feel so much like a person you could actually know, and it’s especially fun to see how much of what we still associate with middle class American teenage life started more than a century ago.

     

    5.1 A Girl of the LimberlostA GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST
    By Gene Stratton-Porter
    (1909)

    Part of the joy of L.M. Montgomery’s books is her vivid descriptions of the beautiful, natural world, and that’s one of the most appealing aspects of The Girl of the Limberlost too. Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist as well as a novelist, which becomes abundantly clear in this book and its companion novels, FRECKLES and LADDIE. Protagonist Elnora Comstock has grown up poor and neglected by her widowed mother, who was emotionally destroyed when her husband died the day Elnora was born. Elnora begins high school uncomfortable and awkward, but through her own good nature, friendliness, and hard work selling the insect and plant specimens she collects from the Limberlost Swamp, she finds a place for herself in her community and in her family.

     

    5.1 MandyMANDY
    By Julie Andrews Edwards
    (1971)

    Yes, this is by THAT Julie Andrews. In addition to two memoirs, Andrews has written several books for children, and Mandy is a particular delight. Mandy is a ten-year-old girl who feels lost in the world until she discovers a deserted cottage in the woods near the English orphanage where she lives. Throughout most of the year, she sneaks away to the cottage, gradually beautifying it and making it her own. Though this book is more recently written than the others on the list and isn’t set in a specified time period, it’s lush descriptions of nature, sweet storyline, and winning heroine make it a natural fit for any Anne Shirley fan.

     
  • LGBTQIA 

    Have you ever felt different?

    I certainly have. I’m going out a limb here to say that I think most of us, if not all of us, have felt different at some point in our lives. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They say that variety is the spice of life, and I firmly believe that can be true.

    But sometimes being different is hard.

    Imagine your difference from the norm resulted in insults and mean, unkind language. The society you live in teaches that your differences from everyone else are bad: shameful, unnatural, even disgusting. People will ask you to hide who you are so they don’t feel uncomfortable. Even if your family accepts you with your differences, there will almost certainly be relatives who don’t. You hear horrifying stories of people like you who have been physically attacked or even killed because of who they are.

    How would you react? You might try to hide your differences, or wish them away. Your life could quite easily be filled with shame and fear.

    There are countless LGBTQIA+ people who could tell their life story. While they are certainly not all the same, they do share a legacy of shame because of who we are. But many of us have learned pride and hope in the face of strife, and we have found a community that loves and accepts us.

    Hearing those stories enriches all of us -- whether we are LGBTQIA+ or not -- on our journey to finding who we are and embracing the rich diversity of our world.

    I long for the day where no one has to live in shame and fear and embarrassment like so many of us have. There is hope up ahead for all of us.

    Below is a list of books were written by or about LGBTQIA+ individuals. Also check out our adult and teen LGBTQ+ booklists.

    This post is the second installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews.  

    8.28 Bingo LoveBINGO LOVE 
    By Tee Franklin
    (2018)

    When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-'60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage

     

    8.28 We Are Totally NormalWE ARE TOTALLY NORMAL 
    By Rahul Kanakia
    (2020)

    Nandan's got a plan to make his junior year perfect, but hooking up with his friend Dave isn't part of it: especially because Nandan has never been into guys. Still, Nandan's willing to give a relationship with him a shot. But the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back. Is breaking up with Dave -- the only person who's ever really gotten him -- worth feeling 'normal' again?

     

    8.28 Lets Talk About LoveLET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE 
    By Claire Kann
    (2018)

    Alice has given up on finding love until love finds her. Her last girlfriend, Margo, ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual. Now Alice is sure she's done with dating… until she meets Takumi. She can't stop thinking about him or the romantic feelings she did not ask for. When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, Alice has to decide if she's willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated -- or even understood.

     

    8.28 AutoboyographyAUTOBOYOGRAPHY 
    By Christina Lauren
    (2017)

    High school senior Tanner Scott has hidden his bisexuality since his family moved to Utah, but he falls hard for Sebastian, a Mormon mentoring students in a writing seminar Tanner's best friend convinced him to take.

     

    8.28 Something Like GravitySOMETHING LIKE GRAVITY 
    By Amber Smith
    (2019)

    After coming out as transgender, Chris is still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia, grieving the loss of her older sister, is trying to find her place in the world. Falling in love the furthest thing on their minds. But what if it happened anyway?

     
  • fall into a good book 1

    There is a place between awake and asleep that is so blissful and wonderful that to be wrenched from it incurs my wrath and leaves me in a stupor for some time afterwards. There is also a beautiful place like this that you can find while reading: when the author has woven the tale so perfectly that the story, characters, and imaginary world come to life. And you can’t help but get dumped in head first—swallowed whole. 

    Off the top of my head, there are three books I can think of which so engulfed me in a story that pulling me out of it left me in a daze. I can remember distinct moments when, after someone interrupted my reverie, I was unsure of my surroundings or even what the person was saying—because it didn’t sound like English. At those times I was perturbed to be taken from that fictional place because I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sink so deeply again. 

    If you want to fall into some really good books, these are those stories: 

    11.27 BeautyBEAUTY
    By Robin McKinley
    (1978)

    The story of a wealthy merchant who, after learning he has lost everything, comes across a magical and beautiful estate. When he picks a rose for his daughter Beauty, a beast appears—angry that his hospitality would be thanked with thievery. The beast lets the merchant go only because he promises that his daughter will return and live in the castle. Beauty is a formidable character for the Beast: She’s intelligent and has a loving family that she would do anything for. In this beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Robin McKinley spins a tale so magical that I can’t help but be drawn in.  


    11.27 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
    By J.K. Rowling
    (1998)

    Boy wizard. Dastardly villain. True friends. Ultimate war between good and evil.  

     

     

     

    11.27 Daughter of the ForestDAUGHTER OF THE FOREST 
    By Juliet Marillier 
    (2000)

    A retelling loosely based on a Celtic Myth called “The Children of Lir” combined with “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm. A girl must sew six shirts from a painful nettle plant in order to save her six brothers from a witch’s enchantment, remaining completely mute until the task is finished. This task becomes especially difficult when she is taken from her homeland by a British lord who is sure she has information about his missing brother. Marillier creates some fantastic characters, beautiful worlds, and an interesting crossover into the land of faerie. 

     

     

  • Teen Girl Holding Books 

    Summer is beginning to wind down and soon a new school year will be upon us. If you are like me, you might be thinking it’s time seize the last few days of summer and get some reading done! But what should you read? May I suggest a few fresh new YA novels? If you are looking for diverse, spunky characters, lush description, and maybe a good cry, the following books could be a great fit for you.  

    8.12 The Sound of StarsTHE SOUND OF STARS
    By Alechia Dow
    (2020)

    This book is set after the invasion of the Ilori. More than 1/3 of earth’s population has been wiped out. Humans are being kept in lock down. They are not allowed to read or listen to music. Janelle is running a clandestine library, until one of her books goes missing. This could lead to a death sentence. But the Ilori who found it doesn’t turn Janelle in. Instead, he talks to her. Janelle and M0RR1S find they share a passion for music. This passion sends them on a road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums in a race to save humanity.

     

    8.12 Clap When You LandCLAP WHEN YOU LAND
    By Elizabeth Acevedo
    (2020)

    Camino Rios can’t wait for dad’s yearly visit to the Dominican Republic. When she arrives at the tiny airport, she finds her dad’s plane crashed. Camino has to come to terms with her grief, but then she discovers something more about her father. She has a sister named Yahaira in New York City. Does her father’s life hold more secrets? This story is told in verse from dual perspectives. It’s a fast read, but it sure packs a punch.

     

    8.12 Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know 2MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW
    By Samira Ahmed
    (2020)

    Kayyam is seventeen and on a dream trip to Paris. She should be in heaven, but she’s not. She just wants to go home. That is until she runs into a descendant of Alexandre Dumas and begins research on Leila, a 19th century Muslim woman with ties to Dumas and Lord Byron. Kayyam is a strong female protagonist who is full of passion and sparkle. The rush to find Leila throughout history is really fun to read.

     

    8.12 Love Boat TaipeiLOVE BOAT, TAIPEI
    By Abigail Hing When
    (2020)

    Ever Wong thinks she is going to Taiwan for an educational immersion program. But when she gets there, she discovers she’s on the infamous “Loveboat”. Every passenger is a prodigy, or a rich kid, or both. But no one seems to be interested in studying. They just want to party. While Ever is navigating Taipei’s nightlife, she also is figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. But will her parents approve of a life they haven’t already chosen for her?

     

    8.12 Yes No Maybe SoYES, NO, MAYBE SO
    By Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
    (2020)

    Jamie Goldberg and Maya Rehrman couldn’t be more different. But when the two are thrown together to canvas for their local state senate candidate, things suddenly start to change. Jamie begins to have a serious crush on Maya and Maya starts to see Jamie as more than just “that awkward guy.” This book has it all. Political activism. Check!  Cute love story. Check! Multicultural bonding. Check!  I liked it a lot.

     
  • adult kid books 

    There are plenty of books in the children’s department here at the Provo City Library that adults love to read. The same is true in reverse. We often send our smaller patrons over to the adult’s department to find a specific title they are interested in. Here are 5 of my favorite titles that kids can enjoy, but which can’t be found in our Juvenile Fiction collection.   

    10.05.2018 SweetnessTHE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE
    by Alan Bradley
    (2009)

    A new favorite character among readers, Flavia de Luce is a witty 11-yr-old sleuth and an aspiring chemist. Previously, Flavia’s time has been spent trying to make her sisters’ lives miserable and being made miserable in return. That’s until she finds a dead man in the garden and realizes she’s finally found something to truly put her mind to. This is the perfect book for young mystery-lovers that need to be challenged just a bit.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: While only 11, Flavia often speaks, thinks, and acts like an adult. There is also a smattering of swearing and the occasional Agatha-Christie-esque murder.   

     

    01.05.2018 Book ThiefTHE BOOK THIEF
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)

    As soon as it was published, The Book Thief became an instant classic. The tale of young Liesel Meminger and her hodge-podge family is narrated by Death. He is a thoughtful and beautiful storyteller, following the little “book thief” during the first half of WWII in Nazi Germany. This is a great read for anyone, but especially for the many kids who love WWII historical fiction.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The Book Thief can at times be both a little slow and very sad. It touches on themes of wartime violence and Nazi philosophy. It also has quite a bit of language in it both in English and German. I enjoyed listening to this book because the reader gave those words the appropriate color.   

     

    01.05.2018 To Kill a MockingbirdTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    by Harper Lee
    (1960)

    With over 3 million reviews on Goodreads, most people are familiar with Lee’s tale of childhood antics and the cancer of racism. Scout is an adventurous but naive character who only experiences racism from a distance until it’s thrust violently into her life. Seeing the small southern town through Scout’s eyes can be a wonderful, if gradual, first step into an eye-opening recognition of injustice.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The main conflict of this book is the accused rape of a white girl by a black man. Both the racism and the believability or un-believability of the girl are sensitive topics. There are also the obvious racial slurs, other language, and violent scenes.   

     

    01.05.2018 Hitchhikers GuideTHE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
    by Douglas Adams
    (1979)

    Arthur Dent discovers his good friend is actually an intergalactic hitchhiker when he’s plucked from earth just moments before it’s destroyed. Hilarious and very British, chaos ensues as a ragtag group travels the universe. While this one may be a bit of a stretch for some kids, many enjoy both its hilarity and thoughtfulness. 

    Why it’s on the adult side: To be fair, this is an adult book. It’s both witty and, at times, philosophical. Be prepared for a smattering of language and sexual innuendos of varying degrees.   

     

    01.05.2018 Michael VeyMICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25
    by Richard Paul Evans
    (2011)

    At our library, this book is cataloged as “young adult,” but it’s enjoyed by all ages. 14-yr-old Michael Vey has Tourette's syndrome, but he also has incredible electrical powers. After discovering that one of the most popular girls in school (and his crush) has similar abilities, the two embark on a quest to discover the origin of their mutation. This story is action-packed and a lot of fun.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: Although plenty of kids love this series, I was surprised at the amount of violence. There is also moments of psychological torture that, if really considered, can be quite emotional.   

     
  • fandom 1

     Fandom. Nearly all of us belong to at least one. Think about that one TV show, band, book series, or game that you connected with so deeply, that at times, it’s all you could think or talk about. It’s feeling connected to a community of people who have all experienced the same thrill and passion as you. And waiting for the next release...AGONY!

    Here are five Young Adult novels that celebrate what it’s like to be part of a fandom. The ultimate ode to all things geek.

    FangirlFANGIRL 
    Rainbow Rowell
    (2013)

    This charming novel tells the story of  painfully shy Cath, who prefers the fantasy world of fanfiction to reality. Cath has been writing fanfiction about Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-like wizard who battles vampires and the Humdrum, a creature determined to rid the world of magic. She has thousands of online followers, but as Cath begins her first year of college, expecting to survive by rooming with her outgoing twin sister, Wren, everything starts to fall apart.

     

     

    The Geeks Guide to Unrequited LoveTHE GEEK’S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE 
    Sarvenaz Tash
    (2016)

    Graham and Roxana have been friends for eight years, growing closer through their mutual love of comic books and all things geek. But what Roxy doesn’t know is that Graham has had a hopeless crush on her for years. So when he learns that the creator of their favorite comic will be at this year’s New York Comic Con, Graham knows they have to go, and that it’s the perfect opportunity to confess his unrequited love. But once Comic Con actually starts, nothing goes according to plan, and Graham is left struggling to make the epic moment happen.

     

    GeekerellaGEEKERELLA 
    Ashley Poston
    (2017)

    In this fandom version of the fairy tale Cinderella, Elle Wittimer is a devoted fan of the classic sci-fi TV series Starfield. When Elle finds out that ExcelsiCon is hosting a Starfield cosplay contest in honor of the new movie adaptation, she jumps at the chance, but knows her evil step-family will try to prevent her from attending the ball. When Darien Freeman is cast as the new Prince of Carmindor, Elle thinks it’s a terrible choice. She vents her frustration with the casting on her fan blog and receives unprecedented readership. So when Elle and Darien’s paths cross at the ExcelsiCon ball, it’s not so clear if Elle will get her happily ever after.

     

    The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is YouTHE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU
    Lily Anderson
    (2016)

    In this nerdy take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, Trixie Watson has considered Ben West her arch-nemesis since first grade at Messina Academy for the Gifted, a school for geniuses. In their senior year, Trixie is determined to finally surpass Ben in the class standings. But Trixie and Ben’s respective best friends are exhausted with the verbal sparring and plot to help them form a friendship or maybe more based on their mutual love of comics and science fiction. So when Trixie’s friend gets expelled for cheating, they each have to choose who to believe.

     

    All The FeelsALL THE FEELS 
    Danika Stone
    (2016)

    Ultimate fan Liv has been obsessed with the sci-fi movie Starveil, for years. So, when the main character, Spartan, is unexpectedly killed off in the final movie, Liv and the rest of the fandom can’t accept it. After trying to get over it and failing, she decides that Spartan’s death should be struck from the official canon of the films. With help from her best friend, Xander, a Steampunk-loving aspiring actor, they begin a campaign called #SpartanSurvived.

     

     

  • k pop books

    In a previous Friday Faves, I listed my favorite K-pop CDs, but this time I want to highlight some of the books that I picked up simply because of my love for K-pop and Korean culture. I’m not saying these are the best out there (there’s a LOT I haven’t read yet), but these are ones that I enjoyed simply because… well… Korea! If you’ve got some favorite books that are about Korea or take place there, leave a comment so that I know what to read next! 

    8.4 The Birth of Korean CoolTHE BIRTH OF KOREAN COOL
    By Euny Hong
    (2014)

    Going from a third-world to first-world country in a matter of a few short decades is no simple task, but South Korea managed it, and is now becoming one of the world’s top exporters of pop culture. Euny Hong describes her experience of moving to Korea when she was twelve in the 1980s and how she’s seen the country go from very un-cool, to ultra-cool in that time. This was a fascinating read to see how the country essentially rebranded itself. 

     

     

    8.4 K Pop NowK-POP NOW!
    By Mark James Russell
    (2014)

    There are a wide variety of factors that have contributed to the development and growing popularity of K-pop. Russell provides a broad overview that includes historical and cultural influences, as well as describing what makes the industry unique and different from Western music. From there, Russell provides overviews of some of the current hottest artists in boy groups, girl groups, and solo acts, then briefly ventures onto the future of k-pop and what to expect when traveling to South Korea. 

    8.4 Bride of the Water GodBRIDE OF THE WATER GOD
    by Mi-Kyung Yun
    (2007)

    In this manhwa, Soah’s village is suffering from a long drought. To appease Habaek, the water god, they must sacrifice a girl to be his bride. When Soah is chosen, she understands she will likely die. However, there is something unique about her, and Habaek decides to rescue her. As she adjusts to live in Habaek’s kingdom, she discovers that there are a lot of mysterious things going on, including some that surround her new husband. This is a beautifully drawn manhwa that will be made into a K-drama later this year. 

     

    8.4 RE JaneRE JANE
    By Patricia Park
    (2015)

    In this modern retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Re is a half-Korean, half-American orphan who grew up in New York. She doesn’t quite fit in and becomes desperate to get away from her Uncle’s strict rules. Jane finds a job working as an au pair for two Brooklyn academics and their daughter, which presents its own unique problems and opportunities. When her grandfather passes away, a quick trip to Seoul for the funeral turns into an extended stay as she reconnects with family and discovers a modern Korea, completely different from the one her uncle left decades earlier.  

     

    8.4 Stars of K Pop GirlsSTARS OF K-POP: GIRLS
    By StarNews
    (2014)

    Through photographs, interviews, and statistics, this book highlights some of the biggest girl groups in the k-pop industry. Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, Kara, f(x), Secret, Sistar, 4minute, T-ara, Miss A, Brown Eyed Girls, Afterschool, Girl’s Day, A Pink, Rainbow, and Crayon Pop are all highlighted with individual member information and tons of pictures. This book is a visual feast for the k-pop fan.

     

     

    8.4 Stars of K Pop BoysSTARS OF K-POP: BOYS
    By StarNews
    (2014)

    Very similar to its above counterpart, this edition of STARS OF K-POP focuses on male idols and groups including Psy, TVXQ, Big Bang, Super Junior, Beast, SHINee, Infinite, 2PM, 2AM, CNBLUE, ZE:A, F.T. Island, MBLAQ, EXO, and Supernova.

     

     

  • fairtyaleretellings

    I love fairy tales. I especially love the quote by G.K. Chesterton, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.” I personally think that this applies to everyone. We all have our dragons in our lives from paying bills to family drama, and sometimes it is overwhelming facing our personal dragons. Even though real life is not a fairy tale it is nice to have the hope that our own personal dragons can be conquered, and the belief that we can be the hero of our own story.

    EntwinedENTWINED
    by Heather Dixon Entwined
    (2011)

    ENTWINED is a retelling of the “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”. Left alone in mourning after their mother’s death, and their father gone off to war, Princess Azalea and her eleven sisters spend night after night dancing with Keeper, someone trapped in a magic passageway in the walls of the castle. The dances start out fun enough but soon become a nightmare.

    Golden BraidTHE GOLDEN BRAID
    by Melanie Dickerson
    (2015)

    The Golden Braid is a fun retelling of “Rapunzel”. In this story as Rapunzel and her mother are moving once again they are set upon by bandits, and are saved by a passing knight. Later down the road, Rapunzel get the opportunity to save the very knight who previously saved them. In exchange for saving his life Rapunzel makes him promise to teach her how to read. As the story goes on a lifetime of secrets are revealed. Will Rapunzel be able to free herself from a lifetime of lies and help save her kingdom?

    BeautyBEAUTY
    by Robin McKinley
    (1978)

    Beauty is a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”. In this particular retelling of the fairy tale Beauty’s father is a merchant who has recently lost everything in a storm at sea and they go west to make a new future for themselves. One day her father receives word that one of his ships survived the storm and he travels back to the city to discover what is to be recovered. On his way back to his family he gets caught in a blizzard and stays in a mysterious castle in the woods near his home. As he leaves his refuge once the storm has stopped he picks a rose from the garden of the mysterious castle igniting the Beasts anger.  For picking the rose the merchant must give up one of his daughters to live with the Beast forever. Beauty volunteers.  What will happen while Beauty is living with a mythical beast, and what will become of her?

    Saphyre SnowSAPHYRE SNOW 
    by Marci Lynn McClure
    (2009)

    Saphyre Snow is a retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. Princess Saphyre is running for her life when her stepmother’s huntsman is ordered to kill Saphyre and rip out her heart. When she gets lost in the woods she comes across a band of seven misfits. Will they give her refuge or send her back to be subject to her stepmother’s cruelty?

    Princess of the Silver WoodPRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOOD
    by Jessica Day George
    (2012)

    Princess of the Silver Wood is a fun retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Robin Hood”. Petunia, the youngest of the dancing princesses, gets ambushed by bandits in wolves’ costume on her way to visit an elderly neighbor. Will she and her sisters finally get the chance to break the curse over their family?

  • Woman Reading

    In the process of figuring out what to write about for this post, I made a list of some of my top favorite books—the ones that are always on the tip of my tongue when someone asks me for a recommendation. As I looked at these varied books from different genres, I realized that while the stories are fantastic and beautifully done, each one of these books have some of my favorite female leads. They are strong, clever, and courageous. They make mistakes and come back stronger for it.

    Here are 4 pretty amazing books with top-notch female characters: 

    1.19 Code Name VerityCODE NAME VERITY
    by Elizabeth Wein
    (2012)

    In 1943, a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. On board are two best friends, Maddie (pilot) and Julie (spy). Julie is captured and is forced to detail the British war effort or face execution. She chooses to write her confession in the form of a novel, telling a story of friendship between her and Maddie and about how she ended up in her current predicament. The second half of the book is from Maddie’s point of view and everything that happens after her plane went down. This book does so well showing strong women in the WWII war effort. There is layered storytelling, clever intertextual devices, and unreliable narrators. There is also a prequel about Julie called THE PEARL THIEF that came out in 2017.  

     

    1.19 The Book ThiefTHE BOOK THEIF 
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)

    This book is set in WWII and told from the point of view of Death. It’s about a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and a whole lot of thievery. Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich, scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist—books. She is taught to read by her accordion-playing foster father and the Jewish man hidden in her basement. This book is so beautifully written and told in such a way that you know what’s going to happen. Death’s point of view is a circular one, so he’s not concerned about spoilers, but that doesn’t matter because I’ve read this book at least 3 times and know what’s coming… each time is beautifully devastating.  

     

    1.19 The Eyre AffairTHE EYRE AFFAIR 
    Jasper Fforde
    (2002)

    Set in an alternative universe of Great Britain 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality and literature is taken very, very seriously. So much so that there is a special division of Literary Detectives in the police force to protect it. Enter Thursday Next (that’s our protagonist not me talking about next Thursday). While trying to capture Acheron Hades, the third most wanted man in the world, her uncle Mycroft is kidnapped for his invention that can let you enter books. Acheron Hades doesn’t use this invention to go into his favorite book but to go into the original manuscript of Jane Eyre and kidnap her half way through the book. As the book is first person, there is an uproar around the world because half of Jane Eyre is now just blank pages. Thursday has to save her uncle, save Jane, and try not to mess with the continuity of the book. This is a book (series) for people who love books. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, that’s fine, neither has Thursday’s partner, so they will catch you up on the finer details. The writing is clever, the story is silly, and the humor is dry.  

     

    1.19 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieTHE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE 
    Alan Bradley
    (2009)

    11-year-old Flavia de Luce loves chemistry and poisons. During the summer of 1950, in the sleepy English village of Bishop’s Lacey, a dead bird is found on Flavia’s doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and sees him take his last dying breath. Flavia is appalled and delighted and decides she’s going to follow the clues to solve the crime herself… to help the police of course. This is a brilliant series with a clever protagonist that uses the fact that she’s 11 to sneak her way through her village to solve the murders.  For people already familiar with the series, the 9th book “The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place” is out end of this month. 

     
  • CBF 2018 FB event

    I Love Jessica Day George! I credit her with being the one who helped my daughter discover that books could be fun and exciting to read. ( Which is one of the reasons I love her so much.) We read her book DRAGON SLIPPERS together and for the first time ever my daughter didn’t want to stop reading. What more could a parent ask for from an author?

    Her books were not only what got my daughter started reading, but they have kept her reading. She has become one of my personal favorites and many of her books sit on our bookshelves at home. Her books are perfect for anyone who enjoys reading fairytales with a twist, which I love, or stories with dragons and enchanting tales with a sprinkle of magic.  This year in celebration of  Children’s Book Festival, Jessica Day George will be coming to the Provo City Library. I am very excited to hear her talk about her new book THE ROSE LEGACY which is the perfect book for anyone who loves fantasy books about magical gifts and horses. I would recommend any of her books, but here is a list of my favorites:  

    4.30 Dragon SlippersDRAGON SLIPPERS
    (2007)

    Creel is an orphan living with her aunt and uncle, and she has no prospects for marriage. As a solution to what she sees as a big problem her aunt tells Creel to go to the dragon, who has a cave not far from their town, and sacrifice herself in hopes that a knight will come to rescue and marry her. But Creel isn’t a girl who will wait to be rescued.  She decides to conquer the dragon herself and goes into his cave to face her future.  She finds a friend in the dragon, and with a dragon's treasure in hand she begins a path which will change the course of her life. 

     

    4.30 Sun and Moon Ice and SnowSUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW
    (2008)

    Based on one of my favorite Nordic legends, EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON, this is the story of an impoverished girl who is offered riches for herself and her family if she will follow a polar bear to his home and remain there for a year. She agrees and begins a journey that she could never have imagined. During the year she spends in the castle of the bear she begins to unravel a mystery with a curse and finds a love she never imagined for herself.   

     

    4.30 Princess of the Midnight BallPRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL
    (2009)

    One of my daughter's favorite fairytales was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. In PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL, Jessica Day George has taken the traditional telling of the story and spun a new tale with delightful characters. She draws you into the royal family, where you begin to feel a connection with the twelve sisters and their struggles to undo a curse that was placed on their family many years ago. The perspective you gain from the oldest daughter makes you want to cheer them on as they dance their way to freedom. 

     

    4.30 Silver in the BloodSILVER IN THE BLOOD
    (2015)

    Do you know all of your family secrets? In the telling of this book you meet twin sisters, Dacia and Lou, who on their 17th birthday are told they must travel to Romania to meet their mother's relatives as well as their tyrant of a grandmother. They leave behind their life in 1890 New York society to embark on a treacherous journey.  While in Romania they discover dark family secrets and find that they are to take their place as one of the loyal servants of the Draculas. They must then decide if they have the courage to change their destiny. 

     

    4.30 Princess of GlassPRINCESS OF GLASS
    (2010)

    Poppy, one of the twelve sisters from PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL, hopes to escape the problems developing in her kingdom by offering to go on a royal exchange program. Poppy, who is one of my favorite fictional characters, has no idea what events are about to unfold for her. She finds herself involved in a plot laid out by a wicked fairy. Poppy is a beautiful dancer, but she despises dancing and has no happy memories of dancing at a ball. So when she is invited to a royal ball she reluctantly agrees to go but has no intention of dancing. However things may not go her way. This is an enchanting retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella and it will “Knit” you tightly into its clutches.

     
  •  Journals

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love to read journals and diaries. I grew up reading every single Dear America book I could get my hands on as well as any of the Royal Diaries books. I learned the other day what the difference is between a diary and a journal - technically a diary is simply a record of events as they happen in someone’s life, where a journal is a book that is a bit more personal and goes through a person’s thoughts and feelings and the evolution thereof. Super cool! Who knew? 

    I personally love the perspective a journal gives about a person’s life and what they were going through.The following are a few books which are written in a journal or diary format. What are some of your favorite journals and diaries to read?

    7.6 Book of a Thousand DaysBOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS
    by Shannon Hale
    (2007)

    Dashti is a fifteen year old who is sworn to obey her sixteen year old mistress, the Lady Saren. This story records the years of Saren’s punishment locked in a tower, then records her going to another's lands and posing as a kitchen maid in order to stay alive.

     

    7.6 Diary of a Young GirlTHE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL
    by Anne Frank
    (1947)

    This is the record of a wonderful young Jewish girl, who was triumphantly human and herself through the ordeal of life before her family was taken to a concentration camp.

     

    7.6 The Perks of Being a WallflowerTHE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
    by Stephen Chbosky
    (1999)

    This book follows the life of Charlie, who is a freshman in High School. Though he is not the weirdest kid in town, he is not popular. This book discusses the unique perspective of a life lived on the fringes, but then learning to step away from the wall and live on the dance floor.

     

    7.6 These is My WordsTHESE IS MY WORDS
    by Nancy Turner
    (1998)

    This story follows Sarah Agnes Prine, beginning in 1881, when her father decides the family needs to move their horse ranch from Arizona to Texas. Sara is 17 and is a tomboy, though she would love nothing more than to be gracious and beautiful like other women. Follow the story of Sarah’s family as Sarah is the one person that often saves them from certain death.

     

    7.6 Go Ask AliceGO ASK ALICE
    by Anonymous
    (1971)

    This book follows the story of a 15 year old girl who develops a drug habit and runs away from home.

     
  • favoritefavorite 1

     Anyone who reads a lot can empathize with the pressure I feel, as a librarian, to pick a favorite book. It’s often the first question people ask me when I tell them that reading is my favorite hobby. The problem, of course, is that I don’t have a favorite book.  

    Or rather, I have way too many! I could easily come up with a categorized list of about 400 favorite books separated into genre, age group, guilty pleasure books, etc. But, if I had to pick, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is my favorite book on my long list of favorite books. The story is fun and classic and well-known enough that you don’t seem pretentious when you say that you love it. And, like many childhood classics, there are always new interpretations to explore.  

    Here are a few favorite books based on my official favorite book:  

    Alices Adventures in WonderlandAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland 
    By Lewis Carroll
    Illustrated by Anna Rifle Bond
    (2015)   

    The illustrations in Alice have always been one of the best parts for me, and while hundreds of artists have taken the time to illustrate Wonderland, this edition offers a unique interpretation of a magical and fantastic world. Every page in this book is pretty and cartoonish, offering a fun new journey to Wonderland alongside Lewis Carroll’s original and unabridged text.  

     

    HeartlessHeartless
    By Marissa Meyer
    (2016)   

    In this prequel to Alice in Wonderland, Lady Catherine is reluctant to marry the King of Hearts, especially once she finds love with the king’s mysterious new jester. Marissa Meyer crafts her own beautiful version of Wonderland filled with romance and a little bit of darkness. I love this new look at Wonderland.  

     

     

     

    Queen of HeartsQueen of Hearts  
    By Colleen Oakes
    (2016)   

    This book offers another exploration into Wonderland before Alice, but here the future Queen of Hearts is called Princess Dinah, and she has yet to learn about the darkness that fills her future kingdom. I was not expecting to enjoy two new Queen of Hearts origin stories in the same year, but this book – the first in a new series – convinced me that there should be even more.  

     

     

    There are so many Fractured Wonderland stories that it was hard to pick out a few favorites (obviously). Are there other favorites that we missed? 

     

  • yaromance

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a fully grown woman who loves a good Young Adult (YA) Contemporary Romance. Let me first explain what I mean by this genre. These are books set in contemporary times, but can include the recent past such as ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell who set her novel in 1986 (and, by the way, is fantastic). FYI: typically a novel is considered historical fiction if set 50 years or longer in the past. YA Contemporary Romance must also have a romantic relationship at its core. That’s the bit I especially like. There is an inherent excitement to the idea of falling in love for the first time that draws me in again and again, even if it’s easy to guess the plot sometimes. I also enjoy a happy ending but don’t require one. It’s all the swoony romantic bits in the middle that I like best where the cute boy doesn’t go for the popular, pretty girl but instead goes for the quirky one that lives next door.

    To be fair, YA Contemporary Romance can contain melancholy or emotional elements where teens must deal with real issues such as depression or the death of a loved one. These elements often enhance the story; making it bittersweet, which can be rewarding in its own way.

    So without further ado, here are my recent five favorite YA Contemporary Romances.  

    to all the boysTO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE
    by Jenny Han
    (2014)

    Lara Jean isn’t sure she’s ready for her sister, Margot, to move to Scotland for college.  But life becomes even more complicated when someone finds and mails her stash of secret, never-to-be-read letters addressed to all the boys she’s liked in the past.  One letter is sent to Josh, her next door neighbor who Margot broke up with just before moving away. When Josh confronts her, Lara Jean is desperate to convince him that she’s over her crush even if she’s not completely sure herself. Another letter is sent to Peter, a popular Lacrosse player at school. Peter suggests that Lara Jean pose as his new girlfriend to make his ex-girlfriend jealous and to help her convince Josh that she’s over him.

    geography of you and meTHE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME
    by Jennifer E. Smith
    (2014)

    Lucy Patterson and Owen Buckly meet by chance when they are trapped in their New York apartment building’s elevator during a massive power outage. When the electricity returns, so do real-life complications. Owen and his father, devastated by his mother’s recent death, decide to drive west for a fresh start. Meanwhile, Lucy moves to Scotland for her father’s work.  Separated geographically, it is their emotional connection that carries each of them through a life-changing year. This book centers on the leaps of faith that love demands.

    tell me three thingsTELL ME THREE THINGS
    by Julie Buxbaum
    (2016)

    After losing her mother, gaining a stepmother and moving cross-country, Jessie is feeling lost. During her first week in Los Angeles, she receives an email from an anonymous fellow student calling himself Somebody/Nobody (SN), offering advice dodging the pitfalls of her new prep school. After several weeks of relying on SN, Jessie wants to meet him. But will reality live up to her idea of Somebody/Nobody? This novel is sort of like YOU’VE GOT MAIL for teenagers.

    all the bright placesALL THE BRIGHT PLACES
    by Jennifer Niven
    (2015)

    An exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story, this novel is told from the perspectives of both Theodore Finch and Violet Markey.  The two meet unexpectedly on the ledge of the school bell tower where they’re both contemplating suicide. Though both troubled, they start a beautiful and unusual friendship. On a school project to experience roadside attractions in the state of Indiana, the two develop a close bond that others don’t understand as their bond begins to help heal one another. But as Violet’s world expands, Finch’s begins to shrink.

    everything everythingEVERYTHING, EVERYTHING
    by Nicola Yoon
    (2015)

    Ever since she was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or “bubble baby” disease, 18-year-old Madeline Whittier hasn’t been able to leave her house. Quite literally allergic to everything, she watches the world pass her by. When Olly moves in next door, all of this changes. With Carla, her nurse, as her ally, Maddy defies her mother by allowing Olly into her house and her heart, putting her very life at risk. This is a humorously engaging story of a girl who has to figure out how to live life and love despite her circumstances.

  • Sci Fi 

    Science-fiction is far from my favorite genre. In fact, for years, I didn’t bother picking it up. I love science but I’ve never been interested in stories about it. Nothing wrong with it, but my favorite books are about people—stories that deal with human vulnerability and the human condition, rather than technology or alien warfare.  

    But a few years ago I kept hearing about a new book that had come out that was blowing everybody away. It was listed as sci-fi, but I had heard so much about it that I gave it a shot anyway. To my surprise, it didn’t fit into the more traditional sci-fi genre, and was instead a meditation on how people handle cataclysmic events. Yes, it was technically sci-fi, but the author approached it in a different way, focusing far less on the science of the situation and more on the reactions of the people involved in them.  

    I’m still not interested in typical science-fiction, but reading different books in the genre has shown me that many of them sort of break the confines of the category and are more invested in the humanity of the stories than they are the technology. Ultimately, these books are asking bigger questions about our world and about humanity, with science-fiction as a frame. You won’t find yourself reading about the inside of an alien spaceship in any of these stories, but you will find books about survival, art, humanity, and hard questions.  

    11.04 Station ElevenSTATION ELEVEN
    By Emily St. John Mandel 
    (2014)

    Station Eleven is the book that first convinced me that just because a book is labelled science-fiction doesn’t mean it can’t also be about human stories. This book weaves narratives together to create a portrait of the world after a flu-like disease spreads and kills huge amounts of the human population. But that descriptor doesn’t even come close to the breadth and depth of this novel. Rather than focusing on the disease and the specifics of the medicine behind it, the author tells the stories of the people before, during, and after, and how humans will push for more than survival even in the darkest of times.  

     

    11.04 When the Sky Fell on SplendorWHEN THE SKY FELL ON SPLENDOR
    By Emily Henry 
    (2019)

    Billed as a mystery alien story, Emily Henry’s latest young adult novel is really more a story of grief, with a touch of magical realism. A group of teenage friends spend their summer nights filming videos for their YouTube channel when one night a mysterious incident makes them question their memories, and what they know of the world. From there, the story takes off and reveals that sometimes people are not who we expect them to be, and that grief makes us react in ways that we might not anticipate. 

     

    11.04 The DreamersTHE DREAMERS
    By Karen Thompson Walker 
    (2019)

    This book is probably the book on this list that feels least like science-fiction to me, and reads more like literary fiction with a science slant. People in a college town are falling asleep and then staying asleep, entrenched in dreams that are incredibly vivid, and nobody knows why. Worse, nobody knows how to wake them up. What sounds like a book that could veer heavily into medical discussions on what this means for our biology is instead a book that occasionally discusses the medical ramifications, but relies mostly on the experiences of both the people who are dreaming, and those who are awake. Karen Thompson Walker delves into the questions asked by the people left behind, trying to piece together the puzzle of why this is happening, how, and what to do about it; and into the minds of the dreamers who don’t know what is real and fake.  

     

    11.4 Dark MatterDARK MATTER
    By Blake Crouch 
    (2016)

    Blake Crouch’s thriller novel is by far the hardest read on this list. It follows a complicated story about a man who is kidnapped by a stranger in a mask before waking up on a gurney surrounded by people he doesn’t recognize, but who know him. The life he wakes up to is not his. He no longer has a wife or a son, and his career trajectory is vastly different. Although the story of “Dark Matter” is closer to a classic science-fiction novel than anything else on this list, at its root it is not about the complex science of the situation, but the harrowing philosophical questions that it raises—how do we know the life we’re living is real at all?

     
  • Robin Hood

    I love Robin Hood. The story of the man who steals from the rich to give to the poor has interested me ever since I first saw the Disney animated adaptation. Since then, I have constantly been on the search for books that allow me to be on the adventure with Robin, have chat with Little John, or simply plot a scheme against the Sheriff of Nottingham.And it seems that I am not the only person who is caught up at the idea of this noble thief. There are countless retellings, adaptations, or folktales written about Robin Hood. This list is a very small scrapping of what is out there, and although I haven’t read them all, each promises to include you in an epic adventure.

    4.24 The Merry Adventures of Robin HoodTHE MERRY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD OF GREAT RENOWN, IN NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
    By Howard Plye
    (1883)

    For me, at least, it’s impossible to talk about Robin Hood without talking about Howard Plye. This work is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. It tells the story of Robin Hood, from the meeting of Little John to how the famous outlaw dies.  The prose is lyrical and poetic and it was actually written as a children’s book so it’s perfect for all ages!

     

    4.24 Rowan HoodROWAN HOOD, OUTLAW GIRL OF SHERWOOD FOREST
    By Nancy Springer
    (2001)

    The first of a five book series, this book hugs the line between middle grade and young adult. Rosemary is the daughter of Robin Hood, a famous thief that she has never met, and a healer named Celandine. When he mother dies, Rosemary disguises herself as a boy and goes out into the depth and perils of Sherwood Forest to find her father.

     

    4.24 The Outlaws of SherwoodTHE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD
    By Robin McKinley
    (2003)

    This novel attempts to adapt the legend of Robin Hood with the perspective of contemporary writing and, while it includes all the famous characters (Little John, Much, Friar Tuck, Marian and Alan-a-dale), the story focuses much more on Mariam, who is an accomplished archer in Robin’s troupe.

     

    4.24 HoodHOOD
    By Stephen R. Lawhead
    (2006)

    Lawhead sets his Robin Hood epic in a world full of Celtic mythology and political intrigue. Hood creates a new protagonist, Bran ap Brychan, and set him on a great adventure. He flees the kingdom of Elfael after his father is killed and leads a band of thieves as they try to battle the Normans in order to take back the kingdom.

     

    4.24 OutlawOUTLAW : THE LEGEND OF ROBIN HOOD : A GRAPHIC NOVEL
    By Tony Lee
    (2009)

    This graphic novel asks the question, “How did Robin of Loxley become Robin Hood?” With vivid color and incredible illustrations, this story places its reader within an England under the Sheriff of Nottingham’s control. Within the haunted Sherwood forest, a rogue rises up to become an outlaw. 

     

    4.24 Outlaw AngusOUTLAW
    By Angus Donald
    (2011)

    Donald’s retelling of the Robin Hood legends does not focus on the legendary outlaw himself but rather on young Alan Dale. This name should ring a bell for any Robin Hood fan. Outlaw tells the story of how Alan Dale was forced to leave his family, join a group of thieves, and question whether can trust the bloodthirsty leader, Robin Hood.   

     
  • groundhog

    Today is Groundhog Day, that holiday when a little creature emerges from its burrow to see if it's sunny or not and decides whether it wants to hurry back home and curl up for 6 more weeks of beauty rest.

    Regardless of what the groundhog decides to do this morning, I think curling up for a while with a good book will be my goal of the week. So grab a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa while I present for you: four teen books to help you ignore the outside world!

    inreallifeIN REAL LIFE
    by Cory Doctorow
    (2014)

    Nothing helps you ignore the real world better than a book about a girl ignoring the real world! Anda starts playing a massively-multiplayer-role-playing game and begins to see how the lines between the real world and the online one can become blurred. This is a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel with an interesting message to share.

     

     

    chasinglincolnkillerCHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER
    by James L. Swanson
    (2009)

    If your preferred reason for staying in bed is because you can't put your book down, this one is for you. Working from letters, manuscripts, reports, books, and other documents, Swanson has pieced together the story of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the ensuing chase of John Wilkes Booth. Readers not only follow the course of Booth and his co-conspirators, but also Lincoln's final moments and the reactions of those around him. It's a serious page-turner, and you have the added bonus of saying it's a "history book" if anyone asks you any questions.

     

    eleanorandparkELEANOR AND PARK
    by Rainbow Rowell
    (2013)

    If you haven't read this one yet, go get it from a library right now. Eleanor and Park are both misfits in 1986 who have no choice but to sit next to each other on the bus one day. That act starts an unlikely friendship that grows from comic books and shared music. I know it doesn't sound like much, but you won't be able to eat, sleep, or breathe until it's done.

     

     

    selectionTHE SELECTION
    by Kiera Cass
    (2012)

    If you've ever spent a night on the couch watching The Bachelor while texting your friends to say you're watching The 100, this book is for you. America Singer is "Selected" to participate in a televised competition to compete to be the bride of Prince Maxon. The only problem is it's the last thing America wants. This book is a guilty pleasure that is best enjoyed from behind the book sleeve of something serious and intimidating like Crime and Punishment.

    You have your list, now grab a blanket and stay inside until it's warm out!

  • Coming of age novels

    As one of the youngest employees of the library, I have the great learning opportunity of not always being as grown-up as I'd like to be. 

    Fortunately, this tumultuous transition is also a major source of inspiration in literature. Coming-of-age books are wondrous, heartbreaking, revolutionary, obnoxious, and more often than not, fun. These books tend to stay with us because they articulate how we grow up. They give us a voice. 

    As someone who is still stubbornly right at the beginning of adulthood, I compiled a list of my favorite coming-of-age books for when I'm not feeling as grown-up as I'd like to be. 

    Jane EyreJANE EYRE 
    Charlotte Bronte 
    (1847)

    I like to think of JANE EYRE as THE coming-of-age story or at least MY coming-of-age story. This achingly romantic novel is about a young orphan who, despite a malicious world and an abundance of external pressures, grows up to be a good person. Maybe that's an oversimplification, but Jane's Lionheart and her courage to choose herself makes me brave. If you can’t get the things in life that you want, can you be the person that you want to be? Can you still choose to be the person you want to be even when all of the options are terrible? The answer is a brutal yet joyous YES! 

      

    year of yes

    YEAR OF YES
    Shonda Rhimes
    (2015)

    Shonda Rhimes, the creator of my favorite, not-so-guilty-pleasure TV shows, GREY’S ANATOMY and SCANDAL, commits to say, "yes" to everything that scares her for one year. I thought this might be easy for an award-winning TV Writer whose characters dance it out, stand in the sun, and tell me to be my own person. But the things she was most scared of are the very same fears that emerge while growing up. She is afraid of being seen; she is scared of failing. Shonda didn't know she was worthy of yes and was hiding from the life that would make her happy. Essentially, YEAR OF YES is a book about getting out of your comfort zone.  

     

    Harry Potter Order of The Phoenix

    HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
    J.K. Rowling
    (2010)

    When we read Harry Potter, we get to watch children learn what it means to be adults. We learn that you can do anything with a bit of brains, courage, and kindness. The Order of the Phoenix is my particular favorite. At 10 years old, this book without a happy ending made sense to me. It showed the darker side to growing up; that it’s hard and often tragic, but worthwhile. Also, I want it etched into my gravestone that each and every single one of Harry James Potter’s outbursts in this book was justified and necessary. 

      

    mansfield park

    MANSFIELD PARK
    Jane Austen 
    (1814)

    This book continues to shock me. It's a subverted Cinderella story about a young girl in dire circumstances who says, “no” to the prince who comes to save her. Ultimately, it’s not a romance. MANSFIELD PARK is not a story about Fanny Price falling in love. It’s the story of a shy, passive girl who says, "No," to the people who would take advantage of her. Reading about Fanny, I learn that strength comes from choosing your own destiny and realizing you can, in fact, have what you truly want. No matter how shy or scared you are, you don’t need to just accept the way things are in your life. 

     

    anne of green gables

    ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
    Lucy Maud Montgomery
    (1908)

    I love reading about Anne Shirley. She feels like a force of nature. She's so glorious with her large and messy personality that knocks up against everything and gets her into to trouble. Despite all of Anne's faults and mistakes, Her growth into an adult didn’t mean becoming quieter or shrinking herself. Growing into an adult meant she learned how to tackle life’s mistakes. She didn’t have to sacrifice herself to grow into the woman she wanted to be.

     

    Adulting

    ADULTING:  HOW TO BECOME A GROWN-UP IN 468 EASY(ISH) STEPS
    Kelly Williams Brown 
    (2013)

    This book is specifically for people who really need to act like adults, but are like me and don't know the first place to start. This book acts as an encyclopedia for everything you’ve ever seen an adult do but weren’t sure how to do yourself. It answers the questions I actually want to know about life: How do I wash all my cardigans? How can I keep my casual existential dread from ruining all my relationships? What is a tax return? And it offers reassurance and tough love without any of the condescendion.

     

    What coming-of-age books do you read when growing up is too hard? 

  • hot ya summer 2016

     

    If you are looking for some new YA fiction to read this summer, look no further! Whether you are a fan of historical, contemporary, or fantasy, any of these titles are sure to appeal. Best of all, each has been garnering rave reviews from critics and readers alike. As for me, I will be reading all three books as soon as I can get my hands on them.

    For the perfect beachy yet substantive contemporary read, try TELL ME THREE THINGS by Juile Buxbaum.

    After gaining a stepmother and moving cross-country, Jessie is feeling lost. During her first week in Los Angeles, she receives an email from Somebody/Nobody (SN) offering help for surviving her new prep school. After coming to rely on SN, she wants to meet. But will reality live up to her idea of SN?

    If you are in the mood for entertaining historical fiction with a revisionist twist, get your hands on a copy of MY LADY JANE by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.

    Part comedy, part fantasy, and part romance, MY LADY JANE is not what you would expect from a Lady Jane retelling. Jane does become engaged to a stranger in his conspiracy to dethrone her cousin, but this Jane doesn’t have to worry about that, because sometimes history itself needs a little retelling.

    If fantasy is more your thing, Victoria Schwab has a new urban fantasy called THIS SAVAGE SONG coming out on July 5, which is supposed to be fantastic.

    In a divided city at war with monsters, Kate wants to be like her father, who is paid to police the street. Like his father, August wants to be merciful and protect the innocent in a larger role, except for one problem - he is one of the monsters. When Kate discovers his secret the two are forced to flee the city or die.

    And on that ominous note, happy reading!

  • harry potter changed

    HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE came out in June 20 years ago. It is crazy to think how much time has passed since then. This post is a little late to be a 20th year anniversary post, but in light of our Harry Potter Escape Room I wanted to write a little something to showcase this wonderful series.

    If we rewind to my second grade year, I hated to read. I have a vivid memory of sitting at my desk in the mobile classroom, staring at a copy of THE BOXCAR CHILDREN, absolutely hating it, and wondering what they were talking about. Around that time, my teacher started reading HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS to the class. I must have mentioned something to my mother and she ended up getting a copy of the first book and reading it to us at night as we went to sleep. I remember being frustrated that she only read a chapter or so at a time, and it was even worse if I fell asleep during the reading of the story. I would take the book and then read until I caught back up. Then I was impatient to find out how the story ended, so I took the book and finished it; my mother was not thrilled.

    This started sort of a tradition with my mother and I as we stole the books back and forth from each other as we read these fun stories. As I had to wait the agonizing amount of time for the next books to be published, I started to pick up other books and find other incredible authors. I even grew to love the Boxcar series, and read many of them.

    In addition to the book's fun plots, I love the quotes of wisdom passed down from Professor Dumbledore, including:

    • "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."  ~ HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE 

    • "As much money and life as you could want!  The two things most human beings would choose above all - the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."  ~ HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
       
    •  “It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.”  ~ HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (Now that I have started grad school, this quote seems even more pertinent than usual)

    I will always be grateful for the grand introduction that the Harry Potter series gave me to the world of reading. In addition, it has impacted my desire to help other people find the book or series that will unlock that door for them. Talking books is one of my favorite things, and I am grateful for the opportunity that my job provides to do just that.

    Back to the Escape Room. If you did not get a time slot, don't despair. We are planning to make this an ongoing program, hopefully an on-demand one that you can schedule at any time. Keep your eyes peeled for new information!

  • I Judged that Cover 

    I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s great advice! I can’t count how many books I almost didn’t read because my inner snark judged the cover. Fortunately for me, my inner snark doesn’t win every battle and I’ve found some really good stories by relying on friends’ recommendations rather than the cover.   Here are some fabulous books that I prejudged: 

    11.13 Along for the RideALONG FOR THE RIDE
    By Sarah Dessen
    (2009)

    I judged this cover because it posed three questions in my mind:

    1. How long did it take the two models to get in that precarious and unnatural position?

    2. Why is she wearing a dress while riding a bike?

    3. Where are her shoes?

    None of these questions were answered in the book, but it was still a fun read. 

    The story follows an insomniac named Auden. Tired of her mother’s antics, she decides to spend her summer vacation with her dad and his new wife. Her time is filled with working, making new friends, and catching the eye of Eli, a fellow insomniac with a tortured past. Can Auden and Eli help each other find hope and healing?

     

    11.13 Royal TargetROYAL TARGET
    By Tracie Hunter Abramson
    (2008)

    This cover gave off a James Bond meets The Princess Diaries vibe. An unlikely match that earned it a space on my “mustard and cheese” shelf (meaning this book puts together two elements that I like and has the potential to be really good or really bad). Fortunately, I found this book very enjoyable. 

    Janessa Rogers is a CIA agent that specializes in linguistics and security detail. When she’s assigned to protect the royal family of Meridia, she knows her skills will be put to the test. However, she never suspected her assignment would require her to go undercover as Prince Garrett’s fiancée.

     

    ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE11.13 Alanna
    By Tamora Pierce
    (1983)

    First of all, I would like the world to know that Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite authors. She’s amazing and the worlds she creates are beautiful and mesmerizing. That being said, this particular cover gave me pause. I mean, there’s A LOT I could say about this cover. But I’ll settle with: when your horse has better hair than you do, you know there’s a problem. 

    Alanna wants nothing more than to be a knight. When her father plans to send her off to a convent to learn magic, she decides it’s time to take action. She convinces her twin brother, Thom, to switch places with her. Alanna, now disguised, becomes a royal page and learns how hard she must work to achieve her dream.

     

    11.13 The Blue SwordTHE BLUE SWORD
    By Robin McKinley
    (1982)

    Why did I judge this cover? For two reasons:

    1. That horse (you know which one).

    2. The sword pictured is not, in fact, blue.You had one job, cover artist.

    Anyway, this is a Robin McKinley book and her work is always solid. I felt connected to her characters and thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s a nice balance of action, plot, and character development. 

    Harry Crewe is a recently orphaned girl. She travels across the ocean to live with her brother in the Royal Province of Daria. After arriving, she is kidnapped by the king of the native Hill-folk and finds herself on an adventure that changes her life forever.

     

    11.13 Seeking PersephoneSEEKING PERSEPHONE
    By Sarah M. Eden
    (2011)

    I have a theory when it comes to this style of book covers: the number of Photoshop layers used directly correlates with the cheesiness level of writing (e.g., If you can easily see 7 layers, then the book will have a 7/10 cheese rating).  Eden proved my theory wrong. She proved it very wrong. This book is wonderful. It is well researched, gloriously written, and the sweet moments did not involve cheese. 

    The Duke of Kielder needs an heir but he is the most feared man in England. Persephone needs financial stability but that seems nigh impossible. To solve their problems, they settle upon a marriage of convenience. But will they get more than they bargained for?

     

    11.13 The Grand SophyTHE GRAND SOPHY
    By Georgette Heyer
    (1950)

    One of my best friends recommended this book to me. I borrowed her copy with this cover. Let me just say, I wondered what Belle from Beauty and the Beast was doing with a monkey and a guy that thought a green tailcoat was a good idea. I dragged my feet with starting this book, but once I did I couldn’t put it down.   

    Sophy Stanton-Lacy finds herself in her aunt’s household while her father goes away on business. Upon her arrival, she realizes how desperately the family needs her help. One cousin is engaged to a bore, another is in love with a poet, the young children need some fun, and her uncle is useless. Sophy wastes no time in meddling in their affairs to ensure a happy ending for all.

     

    There you have it! Six great books I never would have read had I allowed my inner snark to win. What are your favorite books with interesting cover art?

  • Harry Potter

    Book-lovers everywhere know the satisfaction of finishing a great read, and there’s an extra-special feeling that comes from completing a favorite story for the umpteenth time. In our house, the plot and characters of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are well-known and cherished, and our copies are dog-eared and well-loved. I hope we never get too old for the magic of Hogwarts.

    In my fledgling career as a librarian, several people have asked me to recommend “something like Harry Potter” for them to read after finishing the series. With all the books in our beautiful library, it should be easy to find something that fits the bill, right?

    Well, that’s trickier than it seems.

    For starters, there’s no doubt that Harry Potter has deeply influenced our culture. Consider the following questions:

    • What house are you in?

    • What’s your Patronus?

    • Would you ever use Imperio or Crucio or Avada Kedavra?

    The fact that these questions even make sense is a testament to the impact of Harry Potter has had.But what makes Harry Potter so great? It stands out among fantasy for a number of reasons. The magic of Harry Potter extends beyond the pages into a vast and vibrant community which continues to flourish: think of the theme parks, merchandise, fan-fiction sites, screenplay sequel, and soon-to-be dozen feature films – and this is more than a decade and a half after the publication of the last book in 2007.

    Harry Potter is very relatable and accessible to readers of virtually all ages, from grade school to adult. Everyone who has read the series was convinced that they could be a witch or wizard themselves, with magic lying dormant in their veins: I know I was. And we’ve all met real-life versions of: Draco, the arrogant bully Hermione, the book-smart know-it-all Luna, the eccentric weirdo Lupin, the cool teacher and valuable mentor Fred and George, the set of joking pranksters Moaning Myrtle, the specter that haunts the local bathroom (…okay, maybe not that last one.)It's a tall order for any series to reach the same caliber as Harry Potter. But I think it’s healthy to branch out a little bit and take a chance on some rising stars that haven’t hit the same heights as Harry Potter – at least not yet.Below are some suggestions for Harry Potter read-alikes (librarian slang for books with similar elements). I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. 

    7.15 The Iron TrialTHE IRON TRIAL 
    By Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
    1st book of 5 in the Magisterium series
    (2014-2018)

    12-year-old Callum Hunt's father attempts to keep him from the Magisterium, a school where young mages are trained. Despite his best attempts to fail the entrance exam, Cal's inherent magical ability gets him accepted, and he begins the first of five years of his training.Whereas Harry Potter goes to school in the UK, Cal lives and studies in the US. But both series include a trio of students who learn to develop their magical talents and face dangers from all sides. I found Magisterium to be faster paced and more modern than Harry Potter. It hits the spot for a coming-of-age story with fantasy elements and unexpected twists. 

     

    7.15 Sandrys BookSANDRY’S BOOK 
    By Tamora Pierce
    1st book of 4 in the Circle of Magic series
    (1997-1999)

    During a medieval and Renaissance era in a fictional land, four young misfits enter a strict temple community and become magicians-in-training, each in a different form of magic. Together, the newfound friends learn to harness their hitherto unexplored inherent magical abilities.Circle of Magic delves deeper into interactions and combinations of different forms of magic than we ever saw in Harry Potter. The books are also considerably shorter than Harry Potter, which makes for easier reading. But if the story ends too quickly for your liking, fret not; Circle of Magic is followed by a sequel quartet, The Circle Opens (with the original cast as fully qualified teen mages) as well as a stand-alone novel The Will of the Empress (which takes place several years after that). 

     

    7.15 Midnight for Charlie BoneMIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONE
    By Jenny Nimmo
    1st book of 8 in the Children of the Red King series
    (2003-2010)

    Charlie Bone is an ordinary boy who lives with his widowed mother and two grandmothers. But when Charlie realizes he can hear people in photographs talking, he is swept into an ages-old magical battle against the descendants of the ancient and powerful Red King.It’s easy to see why Children of the Red King made it onto this list. It features a school for young magicians in the UK (Bloor’s Academy for Gifted Children), which reminds us a great deal of Hogwarts. And despite significant plot differences, these two fast-paced stories both center on a magical war between good and evil. Especially recommended for younger Potterheads. 

     

    7.15 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE 
    1st book of 7 by J.K. Rowling
    (1997-2007)

    Oscar Wilde said it best: “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

     
  • steampunk science fiction 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    AIRBORN

    LEVIATHAN

    BONESHAKER

  • It's a week full of dance and magic here at the Library; first, tonight we'll welcome Storyteller Wendy Gourley for a program called Story Dance, designed to help you explore story and movement (7:00 pm, Ballroom). Later in the week, of course, we'll transform the Library into a magical fairy world for our annual Fairy Tea. If that's not enough dance and magic for you, check out any of these three retellings of "Twelve Dancing Princesses." 

    12 Dancing Princesses 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL

    THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS

    THE NIGHT DANCE

  • illustratedya

    When I think about books with illustrations, children’s picture books are the first thing that comes to mind. However, recently I’ve read a few Young Adult novels that not only had illustrations, but illustrations that really added to the story! These are just a few of many illustrated YA novels owned by the Provo City Library.

    A Monster CallsA MONSTER CALLS
    by Patrick Ness; illustrated by Jim Kay
    (2011)  

    I’ve recently moved back to Provo after working at a library in Virginia. This title was our 1book 1community read for 2015 and the story has stayed with me since I read it last October. The book itself isn’t very long, but the story is deep and the black and white illustrations contribute to the dark feeling throughout the majority of the book.

     

     

    Between the LinesBETWEEN THE LINES
    by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer; illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert and Scott M. Fischer
    (2012)  

    I listened to this book (and really enjoyed the narrator!), but about halfway through the book I realized that I needed to take a look at the printed version of the story. This book is told in three voices and in the print version the ink color is different for each character’s voice. The full color illustrations and scattered black and white images add to the fairy tale and contemporary storylines. While Jodi Picoult is largely known for her adult titles, she co-wrote this novel with her teenage daughter. I’m anxious to start reading the sequel Off the Page which came out in 2015!

     

    LeviathanLEVIATHAN
    by Scott Westerfeld; illustrated by Keith Thompson   
    (2009)  

    Although I read this book several years ago when it first came out, the story and illustrations have stayed with me. This is a title (and series) that I recommend frequently, as well as anything written by Scott Westerfeld since he’s one of my favorite YA authors. The artwork is not only beautiful, but the drawings helped me picture the various beasts and machines that make up the bulk of this alternate history book.

     

     

     

    Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar ChildrenMISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
    by Ransom Riggs
    (2011)  

    Confession time, I haven’t actually read this one yet. I own a signed copy, but that tends to be the death of me actually reading a book since there’s not a due date! While this book doesn’t actually have illustrations, it does have photographs scattered throughout the book. The photos are a little strange and creepy, but I’ve been told they are essential to enjoying the story. I’m going to move this up to the top of my to-be-read pile as soon as I unpack my boxes of books from my recent move!

     

     

    I encourage you to try an illustrated YA novel today, but be aware if you flip through the pictures before starting the book…you might just spoil the story based on what you see!

  • ya westers

     

    We just celebrated one of my all-time favorite holidays – Pioneer Day! Every 24th of July my family heads up to the Kamas Valley to hike in the Uintas, watch rodeos and demolition derbies, eat delicious food, and of course to remember pioneer ancestors like my great-great-grandmother, Anthonette Marie Olsen. "Nettie" joined a handcart division when she was just twenty years old. She crossed the plains in 1865, and she settled in Salt Lake City, Utah. Reading stories about my great-great-grandmother's journey— like when she saw sunflowers for the first time or her encounters with Native Americans—  may have been where my love for Westerns began.

    If you've never read a Western before or perhaps it's just been a while, now is the time to give them another try! If the traditional Louis L'Amour novel isn't the thing for you, try a more modern Western. Contemporary Westerns now crossover with so many different genres that they offer a little something to almost any reader. Don't believe me? Check out this list of fantastic Young Adult Westerns that include fantasy, multicultural fiction, adventure stories, and even a little bit of romance! I'd start with WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. It's my favorite. 

    walk on earth a strangerWALK ON EARTH A STRANGER
    by Rae Carson
    (2015)

    Lee Westfall, a young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold, must flee her home to avoid people who would abuse her powers, so when her best friend Jefferson heads out across Gold Rush-era America to stake his claim, she disguises herself as a boy and sets out on her own dangerous journey.

     

    painted skyUNDER A PAINTED SKY
    by Stacey Lee
    (2015)

    In 1845, Sammy, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, an African American slave girl, disguise themselves as boys and travel on the Oregon Trail to California from Missouri.

     

    vengeance roadVENGEANCE ROAD
    by Erin Bowman
    (2015)

    When her father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice.

     

    SpringsweetTHE SPRINGSWEET
    by Saundra Mitchell
    (2012)

    Moving from Baltimore to Oklahoma Territory in the late 1800s, seventeen-year-old Zora experiences the joys and hardships of pioneer life, discovering new love and her otherworldly power.

     

    revenge and the wildREVENGE AND THE WILD
    by Michelle Modesto
    (2016)

    Seventeen-year-old foul-mouthed Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler, lives in the lawless western town of Rogue City where she sets out to prove the wealthy investors in a magical technology that will save her city are the cannibals that killed her family and took her arm when she was a child.

  •  End of the World

    Does it say something about you if all you want to read is a story about the end of the world? I hope not, because lately it’s all I seem to be reading! There’s something intriguing about a story set in a world where things can be so much worse, and lately I seem to live for those small threads of meaning that bind people to hope in the face of bleak events. Here are five stories set in familiar but fundamentally altered worlds where people are redefining life as we know it. 

    6.29 The Last PolicemanTHE LAST POLICEMAN
    By Ben H. Winters
    (2012) 

    Suppose you were a beat cop who wanted to be a detective and you were suddenly granted your wish because the world is going to collide with an asteroid in the near future. This is Hank Palace's situation, and in a world where suicide is commonplace, the remaining police force of Concord, New Hampshire, thinks Hank is a nutcase for investigating an apparent suicide as a murder. And yet… why did the man hang himself with a belt other than his own? The end of the world scenario of this detective novel makes it both thought-provoking and strange.  

     

    6.29 Station 11STATION ELEVEN
    By Emily St. John Mandel
    (2014) 

    Outside of Toronto, a famous actor, Arthur Leander, collapses from a heart attack in the middle of a performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. Shortly thereafter, a deadly super-flu quickly spreads and wipes out approximately 99% of the world's population. The novel switches back and forth in time, before and after the pandemic, and centers on the lives of Arthur and people connected to him in one way or the other. In the years after the Fall, one of these people, Kirsten, join a group of traveling actors/musicians who are determined to keep a modicum of culture alive because as their motto says, "Survival is insufficient."

     

    6.29 Life as We Knew ItLIFE AS WE KNEW IT
    By Susan Beth Pfeffer
    (2006) 

    Sixteen-year-old Miranda begins her diary with accounts related to boys and prom. Her writing shifts dramatically after a meteor hits the moon altering the moon’s gravitational pull. This collision changes life forever on earth. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and the loss of electricity abound. Through the ten-month ordeal, Miranda records how her family through everything and how every day death is a constant threat. Will they have enough food and fuel to make it through the long, cold winter? Will life ever return to normal? Is there even such a thing as “normal” anymore? 

     

    6.29 The FiremanTHE FIREMAN
    By Joe Hill
    (2016) 

    Harper Grayson is a nurse volunteering her time to help those infected by a terrifying plague that is spreading throughout the country. The doctors have named the infection Draco Incendia Trychophyton, but everyone else just calls it Dragonscale. The first symptom is an array of tattoo like marks across the body and the final symptom is spontaneous combustion leaving victims mere ash. When Harper contracts the disease she is quarantined in her home until a mysterious fireman with uncanny pyrotechnic abilities takes her to a hidden community of survivors.

     

    6.29 The Age of MiraclesTHE AGE OF MIRACLES
    By Karen Thompson Walker
    (2012) 

    On a Saturday just like any other, Julia and her friend Hannah have had a sleepover. As they wake up and the day progresses however, they discover that the world as they know it will never be the same. The earth has suddenly begun rotating slower and slower adding minutes and then hours to each day. Not only do the days and night grow longer, but gravity as well as growing food is affected. Julia is facing her world being turned upside down in other ways as well, friendships dissolve, her parents’ marriage is strained, and they boy she likes doesn’t ever seem to notice she’s around.

     
  •  Judging a Book By Its cover

    We all know the old adage about not judging a book by its cover, but cover art nevertheless can make a huge difference in a book’s success. Think about it. When you’re browsing the shelves of the library or a book store, books with distinctive covers or spines are the ones you notice, right?

    Personally, I’m drawn to gorgeous typography. While cover photos and illustrations are all well and good, beautiful print, especially if it has a feminine, vintage vibe, calls me to a book better than anything short of a glowing Kirkus review.

    You know you’re a librarian when you have not only favorite books and authors, but favorite book covers and cover illustrators. These are a few of my favorites:

    9.28.2 Dorian GrayJESSICA HISCHE

    Jessica Hische's work is what first sucked me into the world of cover art, and she's my favorite cover illustrator to this day. I'm a book hoarde... ahem, collector, but I started off just buying paperbacks, not caring what the covers looked like. In an act of youthful folly, I even bought the movie tie-in paperbacks of the LORD OF THE RINGS series many years ago (*shudders*). There was no looking back once I started buying Hische's gorgeous collection of Barnes and Noble leatherbound classics, though. Her work is all about intricate lettering, and in addition to her Barnes and Noble designs, she's created lovely covers for Penguin's Drop Caps series, Audible, and McSweeney's Publishing. Thanks to her, I began buying books for their beauty as well as their readability, and, eleven copies of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE later, it's been a beautiful and expensive path from there.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    9.28.2 The Fox and the StarCORALIE BICKFORD-SMITH

    First of all, we need to acknowledge that Coralie Bickford-Smith's name is AWESOME. With a name like that, she should be either the protagonist of a novel or the lady of an English manor house. Okay, with that out of the way, let's talk about her cover art. 

    Even if you haven't heard Bickford-Smith's name, you've probably seen her work. Penguin has released a series ofclothbound classics which feature her gorgeous and whimsical art and which you've inevitably come across in one book store or another. I'm also a fan of her F. Scott Fitzgerald covers, which have a decidedly Art Deco flair that fits his Jazz Age themes perfectly. My absolute favorite cover of hers, however, is from her very own book THE FOX AND THE STAR. The silver, the swirls, the sweet little fox - like Mary Poppins, it's practically perfect in every way.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    9.28.2 Wink Poppy Midnight

    LISA PERRIN

    Lisa Perrin's work is a recent discovery for me. WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE by Lana Popovic has been getting a lot of buzz in the YA community lately, and when I first saw the cover, I was immediately curious about both the book and the artist. After researching a bit, I found the cover for WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT, and I loved it even more. Perrin has the same intricate, feminine, and typography-based style that I love from Bickford-Smith and Hische, but she also uses color and weaves in animal and botanical patterns in a way that reminds me of Scandinavian folk art. The result is eye-catching, playful, and absolutely lovely.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  •  Learning to Love Fantasy Again 2

    Growing up, I loved fantasy. Authors like Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and, of course, J.K. Rowling captured my imagination and carried me off to magical worlds. I reread their books again and again, loving the immersion and escapism they offered.

    As an adult, I’ve found a few new favorites (Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, and Cassie Beasley come to mind), but for the most part I’ve moved away from fantasy in favor of other genres. So many of the novels I’ve tried recently have disappointed me due to shallow world-building or a focus on romance at the expense of plot. I was beginning to wonder if, at the ripe old age of 29, I’m just too old and crotchety for fantasy.

    Fortunately, 2017 is changing my mind. This year, three novels in particular have blown me away with their beautiful writing, imaginative and vivid world building, and three-dimensional characters.

    9.7 The Bear and the NightingaleTHE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE
    By Katherine Arden
    (2017)

    This book, the first by author Katherine Arden, draws on Russian folklore to create an utterly engrossing story of a young girl who embraces magic at a time when it is being suppressed. I read THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE early in the year, but I can still picture the characters and setting with perfect clarity because the book is so beautifully written. Although this is a coming of age story, it is marketed to adults rather than teens, largely because the novel has its dark and creepy aspects. At turns playful, heartbreaking, comforting, scary, and suspenseful, THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE really is a wonderful book.

     

    9.7 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest
    (2017)

    This Y.A. fantasy novel is CONTROVERSIAL. Though it received starred reviews from several review journals, it has also been excoriated by a few prominent book bloggers for being racist, homophobic, ableist, sexist, and more. So why is THE BLACK WITCH one of my favorite fantasy reads in years?

    As the book begins, its protagonist, Elloren Gardner undeniable exhibits all of the characteristics listed above, as do her family and the society in which she lives. As the book progresses, however, Elloren gradually comes to recognize that the history and prejudices she’s been raised with are inaccurate and cruel. This may be a book about a racist, but I don't feel like it's a racist book. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    This book may not be for everyone. Particularly for individuals who have been on the receiving end of prejudice, it's perfectly valid to not want to live in the mind of a prejudiced character for hundreds of pages. I believe, however, that THE BLACK WITCH has a valuable message about both how a racist (or homophobe, sexist, ableist, etc.) is made and how they can be unmade. Education and relationships with people who are different from herself are the keys to Elloren’s awakening (which isn’t perfectly complete at the end of the book – this is the first of a series, after all), and maybe through her story readers will confront their own unacknowledged prejudice and privilege. It certainly left me thinking deeply about difficult issues, something that you don’t always expect from Y.A. fantasy.

    On top of that, Laurie Forest is an excellent writer, creating a world with a complex history, fascinating cultures, and a vivid cast of characters. The complexity of the magical society she developed even reminds me of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world. I was riveted from the first page and finished this 600 page book within 48 hours.

    9.7 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017)

    STRANGE THE DREAMER may just have the most unique, vivid, and gorgeous world-building I’ve ever encountered in a fantasy novel.  Lazlo Strange, a poor, orphaned young man, has fixated on the lost city of Weep since childhood. Though others say Weep is simply a myth, Lazlo pours his heart into researching the mysterious city, desperate to uncover its secrets. The story is difficult to do justice to in a synopsis, but count on this novel for dreams, nightmares, adventure, romance, mystery, and plenty of plot twists.

    Plus, the main character is a librarian, which is certainly a point in his favor. I <3 Lazlo Strange.

     

     

  • Mindfulness for Teens

    High school can be a really stressful time for teens. Between hormones, friends, technology, and prepping for college, it can be a whirlwind fraught with obstacles. Add to that COVID-19 (CoronaVirus), school closure, missing friends and teachers, and you have a very difficult environment for teens to grow up in.

    One practice that can help teens to deal with these stresses is being mindful. Research shows people who practice mindfulness and meditate every day are happier, more focused, and have better memory.[1] If you are trying to navigate in these crazy times and are a teen or know a teen who could use some resources for mindfulness, this blog is for you!

    Here are five eBook resources from Overdrive geared toward teens that can help you build resiliency and stay hopeful and happy.

    5.6 Mindfulness and MeditationMINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION: HANDLING LIFE WITH A CALM AND FOCUSED MIND
    By Whitney Stewart
    (2020)

    Author Whitney Stewart introduces readers to the practice of mindfulness. With its roots in ancient Buddhist teachings, mindfulness--the practice of purposefully focusing attention on the present moment--can change a person's approach to stress, develop skills to handle anxiety and depression, and provide a sense of awareness and belonging. This is a short book with really great research to back up the practices. It is written specifically for young adults with topics like mindfulness before bed, mindfulness with your phone, and mindfulness at social gatherings.   

     

    5.6 Letting GoLETTING GO: A GIRL’S GUIDE TO BREAKING FREE OF STRESS AND ANXIETY
    By Christine Fonseca
    (2017)

    This book has everything you need to help you understand and manage the very real pressures you're facing from life. Designed to provide strategies for managing stress and anxiety, this book is filled with practical evidence-based advice and stories from teen and young adult women like you who have found ways to manage their anxieties. What I love is that every chapter features a discussion of different types of stress and anxiety so you can understand better what you're experiencing, activities to help you remember all the things you love about yourself and to help you understand yourself better, strategies for combating both stress and anxiety, and a stories of other girls who've learned to move past their stress and love their lives— and themselves — to the fullest. 

     

    5.6 Mindfulness for Teen AnxietyMINDFULNESS FOR TEEN ANXIETY: A WORKBOOK FOR OVERCOMING ANXIETY AT HOME, AT SCHOOL, AND EVERYWHERE ELSE
    By Christopher Willard
    (2014) 

    Psychologist and learning specialist Christopher Willard offers teens like you proven-effective, mindfulness-based practices to help you cope with your anxiety, identify common triggers (such as dating or school performance), learn valuable time-management skills, and feel calmer at home, at school, and with friends. The workbook structure allows you to answer questions and really think through your experiences.  

     

    5.6 The Anxiety Survival Guide for TeensTHE ANXIETY SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR TEENS: CBT SKILLS TO OVERCOME FEAR, WORRY, AND PANIC
    By Jennifer Shannon
    (2015)

    Based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this book helps you identify your "monkey mind"—the primitive part of the brain where anxious thoughts arise. There are lots of illustrations that help explain practical strategies for handling even the toughest situations that previously caused you to feel anxious or worried. If you're ready to feel more independent, more confident, and be your best, this unique book will show you how.

     

    5.6 Be Mindful and Stress LessBE MINDFUL & STRESS LESS
    By Gina Biegel, MA, LMFT
    (2018)

    Life cab really tough when you are pulled in all sorts of directions. From family, to school, to dating, you can feel pretty stressed out. This book provides simple accessible mindfulness-based practices will help bring you relief and ease right away. It also teaches you self-care that helps calm the anxiety and stress. It like a life-hack to get you through even the toughest days.   

     

    [1] Stewart, W. (2020). Mindfulness and meditation: Handling life with a calm and focused mind. Twenty First-Century Books: Minneapolis Minnesota.

  • Springtime Tree Blossoms

    A couple of weeks ago, I shared a few classic comfort reads that bring me the same happy feelings as L.M. Montgomery’s ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series. In that post, I especially wanted to highlight books that have flown under the radar a bit - while their authors might be well-known, the books aren’t necessarily household names. BUT, they should be if you love sweet, timeless stories of everyday life and love.

    For today’s post, I wanted to share more Anne Shirley read-alikes, but some of these titles will likely be familiar. Some you might have read before, but if you haven’t and you’re a Green Gables fan, you’ve been missing out! And even if these are old favorites, this long weekend’s the perfect time to cozy up with a beloved reread. 

    5.22 These Happy Golden YearsTHESE HAPPY GOLDEN YEARS
    By Laura Ingalls Wilder
    (1943)

    Of all the books on the list, the Little House series are the ones I’m actually rereading currently, having recently finished LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS and begun LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Though Laura’s life likely seems far more rustic than Anne’s, the two series are actually set in the same time period of the 1870s (the Anne miniseries from the 1980s move things forward to the early 1900s).

    That aside, the thing I loved about the Little House books as a kid is the thing I love as an adult – the detailed descriptions of daily work and family life on a homestead. The whole series is a delight, but These Happy Golden Years feels the most similar to the Anne books to me, particularly because it features Laura’s coming of age years. 

     

    5.22 Little WomenLITTLE WOMEN
    By Louisa May Alcott
    (1868)

    This is my favorite book of all time, so I had to feature it here. Hard work, family love, heroines with literary aspirations, charming boys next door, sweetly funny writing – this book has all the same merits that I adore in L.M. Montgomery’s writing. Like the Anne books, it makes me want to be a better person.

    And if you haven’t seen the new film adaptation yet, go place it on hold now, because it captures the individual personalities of the March sisters (especially Amy!) beautifully. 

     

    5.22 GuersneyTHE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
    By Mary Ann Shaffer
    (2008)

    This is a relatively recent release compared to the other books on this list, but Guernsey was one of those rare books that was so charming I wanted to crawl inside the story and live there. The story brings a young female journalist from post-war London to the British island of Guernsey, which had been under German occupation throughout the war. There she uncovers wartime secrets, but also friendship and love. With a winning cast of characters and delightful scenes of small town life, it’ll be a hit with most Anne fans.

     

    5.22 The Secret GardenTHE SECRET GARDEN
    By Frances Hodgson Burnett
    (1911)

    This is another of those classic “girl’s books” that tends to come in sets with Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and BLACK BEAUTY, but with good reason. As the book opens, we learn that 10-year-old protagonist Mary Lennox has been both spoiled and emotionally neglected during her childhood in India. In the wake of a cholera outbreak, she’s sent to an uncle’s house in England. When she discovers a hidden, walled garden and makes a friend, her sickliness and sour attitude gradually melt away.

    If you love the tender friendships and sweet descriptions of nature that pepper L.M. Montgomery’s books, this is a book for you. And while you’re at it, go read A LITTLE PRINCESS too.

     

    5.22 I Capture the CastleI CAPTURE THE CASTLE
    By Dodie Smith
    (1948)

    Take it from J. K. Rowling: “This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.” It stars Cassandra Mortmain, a seventeen-year-old who recounts her life in daily journal entries in the 1930s. She lives in a dilapidated castle with her father, a novelist dealing with years-long writers block, her beautiful older sister, and her step-mother, an eccentric artist’s model. Though the ending is more ambiguous than most of these happily-ever-after books, the colorful cast of characters and Cassandra’s wry observations are sure to win you over.

     

    5.22 The Witch of Blackbird PondTHE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND
    By Elizabeth George Speare
    (1958)

    I read this book over and over again in my teenage years. In 1687, Heroine Kit Tyler is a smart and brave teenage girl who sets off from her Barbados home to live with her New England relatives after her grandfather dies. There she struggles to fit in with the Puritan lifestyle of her aunt, uncle, cousins, and neighbors. She ends up befriending a Quaker woman who is outcast from the community and a handsome young sailor, setting off a series of dangerous events in the small town.

    The setting – 1680s Connecticut – is far earlier than the other books on this list, but it has a similar feel nonetheless. Like many of the other characters in these blog posts, Kit discovers family, work ethic, and love in a community where she feels out of place.

    If you like The Witch of Blackbird Pond, I also recommend CALICO CAPTIVE, a book by the same author about a young woman taken captive by the Abenakis tribe during the French and Indian War. Elizabeth George Speare only wrote four books, but she’s a two time Newbery medalist and one-time honoree, so her books are all worth reading.

     
  • The Red Queen Crown 

    If you’re a fan of fantasy fiction like I am, chances are you have read the RED QUEEN series by Victoria Aveyard.  Now that you’re done with that, what else is there to read?   

    If you think curling up on the couch with a good, dark fantasy book during a thunderstorm sounds like the best afternoon ever, check these titles out: 

    12.18 Storm SirenSTORM SIREN
    By Mary Weber
    (2014)

    Nym, a seventeen-year-old slave, shouldn’t exist.  She is an Elemental, who are always born male, and always killed at birth.  When a court emissary recognizes her as Elemental, she is purchased and trained to control her abilities so she can be used as a weapon in the long-standing war that her country is losing. 

     

    12.18 Three Dark CrownsTHREE DARK CROWNS
    By Kendare Blake
    (2016)

    On the island kingdom of Fennbirn, every generation a set of triplet girls are born to the queen, each equal heirs to the throne and each a possessor of magic.  When the sisters turn sixteen, a fight to the death begins and the last heir standing gets the crown. 

     

    12.18 The Bone WitchTHE BONE WITCH
    By Rin Chupeco
    (2017)

    Tea’s talents for necromancy means she’s a bone witch, something that makes her feared and ostracized by her community.  She leaves home to train with an older bone witch, and puts all of her efforts into becoming an asha, one who can use elemental magic.  When danger draws near she must overcome obstacles and make a powerful choice. 

     

    12.18 The Young ElitesTHE YOUNG ELITES
    By Marie Lu
    (2014)

    The blood fever killed most of those infected and left survivors with strange markings and stranger powers.  Adelina survived, and her father believes she is an abomination because of it.  Cast out by her family, she joins the Young Elite, a secret society for the survivors with those strange powers. 

     

    12.18 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest
    (2017)

    Elloren Gardner is the spitting image of her grandmother, the last Black Witch, who defeated the enemy and saved her people during the Realm War.  Now evil is rising again and many think Elloren is her grandmother’s heir however she has no magic.  She is given the opportunity to attend Verpax University to become an apothecary but the university admits all manner of people and proves to be a dangerous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

     
  • Reimagined Classics 

    Oddly enough, I read many more classics when I was twelve than I have managed to get through as an adult pursuing a library science degree. As a kid I loved going through Project Guttenberg’s files and reading all sorts of classics for free. I devoured GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST,  ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, TARZAN, and so many more.

    So for the purpose of this blog post there are three types of people in this world:  

    1. You have read all of the classics! Congratulations!

    2. You're somone like me who has read some of the classics but not as many as you would like to before you die.

    3. You still have nightmares of being forced to read GREAT EXPECTATIONS in high school.

    Whichever person you may be, there are some reimagined classics you might really enjoy.

    8.28 Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesPRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
    By Seth Graham Smith
    (2009)

    A horrible plague of zombies have fallen on the quiet English village Meryton. Elizabeth Bennet has been trained in combat and is determined to wipe out the zombie threat. But she is distracted when the arrogant Mr. Darcy comes to town.

     

    8.28 HiddenseeHIDDENSEE
    By Gregory Maguire
    (2017)

    In this retelling of The Nutcracker, Dirk discovers that when there were too many mouths to feed he was taken and abandoned in the woods. Fate saves him and he eventually moves to the city to settle and open a toy store. His toys are very popular, but only his friend’s granddaughter Klara sees the magic that is embedded in the them.

     

    8.28 For Darkness Shows the StarsFOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS
    By Diana Peterfreund
    (2012)

    In this retelling of PERSUASION, the future world is absolutely devastated by genetic engineering gone horribly wrong. As all children became mentally challenged, Elliot North fights to save her family’s land.

     

    8.28 Second StarSECOND STAR
    by Alyssa Sheinmal
    (2014)

    Wendy Darling goes off to find her missing brothers and finds herself on a beach in California. Here she meets Pete and his friends. Have fun reading this retelling of PETER PAN.

     

    8.28 The Mere WifeTHE MERE WIFE
    By Maria Headley
    (2018)

    A modern retelling of BEOWULF recasts classic themes from the perspectives of the attackers and finds a suburban housewife and a battle-hardened veteran navigating dark realities to protect the sons they love.

     
  • Antiracism 2

    We certainly are in a season of change, especially when it comes to racial equality, social justice, and how we connect with one another. The news is filled with powerful images of people marching, powerful voices leading people to new ideas, and powerful questions that might shake us to our core. Maybe you are wondering how to educate yourselves so you can understand #BLACK LIVES MATTER (BLM) and other groups marching for change.

    There are some great resources from the library you can use as a place to start. They're aimed at teens, but are great reads for adults, too.

    NONFICTION

    7.30 StampedSTAMPED: RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU
    By Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
    (2020)

    Reynolds and Kendi explore how racist ideas are part of our country. Those ideas have been used to gain and keep power away from black people. In order to have an antiracist America, the authors argue that we must acknowledge that truth. Not only do the authors give great information about racism in America, they give active steps that can be used to discredit racist ideas.

     

    7.30 We Are Not Yet EqualWE ARE NOT YET EQUAL: UNDERSTANDING OUR RACIAL DIVIDE
    By Carol Anderson
    (2018)

    Dr. Carol Anderson explores the myths of the easy, straight line of progress toward Black equality. She talks about five tipping points in history where the United States could have become more equal, but it did not because of racist political maneuvering meant to limit that progress. Those points include the end of the Civil War, The Great Migration, Brown v. Board of Education, Civil Rights Act of 1964, The War on Drugs, and Barak Obama being elected.  

     

    FICTION

    7.30 The Hate U GiveTHE HATE U GIVE
    By Angie Thomas 
    (2017)

    Starr Carter is catapulted into a life of activism after seeing her friend Kahlil shot by police. Both the police and the local drug lord intimidate Starr and try to find out what really happened the night her friend was shot. This is a powerful page turner, filled with Starr’s disillusionment and anguish at the death of her friend, but also the hope that the movement will bring about change. This is a must-read if you want to understand BLM better.

     

    7.30 Dear MartinDEAR MARTIN
    By Nic Stone
    2017

    Justyce McAllister just wants to go to college. But his life is pulled in opposite directions by race relations in his neighborhood and in the country. He finds peace as he writes letters to the late Martin Luther King Jr. This is a character driven, issue-oriented story that shows Justyce’s struggle to face the racism in his life. The narrative is fast paced and thought provoking.

     

    7.30 SlaySLAY
    By Brittany Morris
    (2019)

    Kierra is 17 year old honor student who also likes to play a multiplayer online role-playing game Slay that honors Black culture. Her two worlds are fine until they begin to overlap and collide, revealing cracks of which she wasn’t aware.  This story is not only about the life of a black girl dealing with racism, it is about the life of a black, gamer girl dealing with prejudice from predominantly white, male gamers. I really like how this book deals with so many issues when if comes to racism and prejudice. Kierra is an awesome female protagonist that will appeal to many readers.

     

    Looking for other resources on anti-racism or novels about Black American lives? Try our Beginner's Guide to Anti-Racism or some of these Middle Grade Books by Black Authors.