Megan’s Favorites of 2017

Ah, the annual struggle of a reader…picking the favorites.

Favorite Teen Reads:

  1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman-In a world where disease and old age have been conquered, the only way to die is to be killed by professional reapers. Two teens are in a contest to become a scythe, despite the fact that neither wants the job.scythe
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas-When Starr Davis becomes the sole witness to the police shooting of her childhood friend, her life changes. The incident makes headlines and everyone from her poor neighborhood and the upscale prep school she attends has an opinion on the matter. hate
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Liani Taylor-Lazlo Strange has long dreamed of the lost city of Weep. Actually, this gorgeous, epic fantasy is too complicated to describe in a sentence or two. I can’t do it.strange
  4. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin-In an alternate history the Axis powers won WWII and Hitler is alive. Yael, a survivor of human experimentation at the hands of Nazi doctors has one goal: win the annual motorcycle race, secure a meeting with Hitler, and kill him.wolf
  5. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zenter-Carter Briggs loses his three best friends after a text message caused a fatal car accident. Carter struggles with his guilt and grief with the help of Blake’s grandmother and her idea of a “goodbye day.”goodbye

Favorite Adult Reads: Apparently I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in 2017! Any why not? It’s pure escapism.

  1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss-The first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles tells the story of Kvothe, a magician, thief, and assassin. This book is currently in development by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Showtime!name of the wind
  2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden-A mesmerizing fairy tale set in the cold Russian north. bear
  3. A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers-This is a light-hearted space opera in the vein of Firefly. long way
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey-The first book in the Expanse series and the source material for the Syfy show of the same title, this is a face-paced thriller of a space opera. I do love a space opera!leviathan
  5. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter-Abby returns to her small hometown to investigate a corporation that seems to have connections to an old scandal. Erin Brockovich meets Mean Girls.bonfire

Favorite Nonfiction Reads: 

  1. Ranger Games by Ben Blum-The bizarre true story of a group of young army rangers who rob a bank. ranger
  2. Hunger: a Memoir of (my) Body by Roxane Gay- This deeply personal series of essays explores body image and self esteem and the author’s relationship with food and weight. index
  3. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder-The author, a historian on fascism, offers a guide to understanding and resisting totalitarianism. index (1)
  4. Tears We Cannot Stop: a Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson-This provocative call for change details how white America can work towards real and lasting racial progress. A painful and necessary read. tears
  5. Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. The majority of my nonfiction reading this year was true crime (totally obsessed and if you are too I recommend the podcast My Favorite Murder) or political books. Killers of the Flower Moon is a fascinating addition to the true crime genre. (It’s also the topic of our Men’s Book Discussion in January)killers

~Megan

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Age is Just a Number -of Good (Teen) Books!

I have some sad news -It was decided to stop our monthly staff genre book discussions and I have to confess, I miss them already… At least you’ll have one last list of new (to you?) teen books to read and enjoy! Are you ready to see what everyone had to say about their selection this month? Me too!

Megan: The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter, is the 2017 William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. It tells the story of three teens living in a small Tennessee town in the heart of the Bible Belt. Dill is the grandson and son of preachers and their legacy is not a happy one. Grandpa Dill was a snake charmer who became unhinged after the death of his daughter and Dill’s father, also a Dill, is in prison. His mother wants him to leave school and help support the family, but his best friend Lydia wants him to go to college. Lydia is internet famous for her fashion blog and she is eager to leave her small town middle class life and strike out on her own in New York City. The third member of this odd little group is Travis, the gentle giant. He chooses to escape the abuse he suffers at the hand of his father by retreating into a fantasy world. This book is full of the big questions teens ask, friendship, tragedy, and hope. This is a fantastic coming of age story for fans of John Green and A.S. King

Gina: We Are Still Tornadoes is written in epistolary format, by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen. Discover the thoughts of these childhood friends, Cath and Scott after their high school graduation in the letters they write to each other the following year as pen pals. Cath moves out of state to attend college while Scott remains home to assist his father in the family store and starts a band with friends. They correspond throughout the year sharing their experiences, learning, and growing. Their letters bring them close together to realize that they are more than just friends. The addition of the 80’s music references made this book enjoyable.

Steve: The first book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan, is an awesome fantasy story that centers on an orphan named Will. On the Choosing Day none of the task masters choose him as an apprentice, that is until a Ranger ultimately requests him. Will is dutifully learning the ways of the Rangers, under the mentorship of the mysterious Halt, when his training is interrupted by news that the evil Morgarath is making maneuvers in an attempt to gain control of the kingdom. And then the real action begins.

Carol: In Jackaby by William Ritter, Abigail Rook comes to America in 1892 looking for adventure, and she is hired as an assistant to R.F. Jackaby, a mysterious detective who can see the paranormal. On Abigail’s first day, they are called to the scene of a murder. Jackaby is convinced that the killer is other-worldly and the game is afoot. This first in a series was published in 2014 and is a smart, funny and clever read—like a Sherlock novel, with a supernatural twist.

Sara: I read the young adult novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. It is the first in a trilogy about a 16 year old girl who wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the accident that put her there or how two friends and her boyfriend died in it. Her family moves to a new state, hoping Mara’s memory will come back gradually. Instead she begins hallucinating that she can see her dead friends and has premonitions of things before they happen. She also falls in love with a mysterious boy, Noah, who she feels like she has know for a lifetime. Were they destined to meet by forces beyond her control? And how did her friends die in the accident while she was unharmed? This book is a psychological (and perhaps paranormal) thriller, fast-paced and definitely worth reading.

Lauren: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows is a delightfully ridiculous retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey and King Edward VI. Their fantasy world centers on the clash between Verities, “normal people”…I guess, and Ethians, who have both a human and animal form and are widely seen as the scourge of the earth. An absolutely hilarious story of magic, adventure, and a little romance.

Dori: In Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina, it’s the summer of 1977, and New York City is haunted by periodic blackouts, arson attacks and most menacingly by serial killer Son of Sam. Nora Lopez is about to graduate from high school and is thinking about her future while dealing with the stress of living with her single mother, a Cuban immigrant, and her younger brother Hector, a drug dealer who abuses his mother. To escape, Nora gets a job at a local deli and starts a relationship with Pablo, a handsome boy who works there too. As the city’s tension swirls around her, Nora must realize some hard truths while finding herself.

Beth: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is set in a dystopia Oz. When Amy finds herself displaced in Oz after a tornado, she learns that Oz is real, but it is not the Oz she had read about growing up. She’s tasked with saving Oz by taking down the all too powerful ruler, Dorothy.

Stacey: In Kids of Appetite, David Almond has been able to address serious issues with such subtle grace. Vic is struggling to cope with the loss of his father to cancer while watching his mom begin a relationship with someone new. Oh, and also Vic has Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that paralyzes his facial muscles. Escaping the house with his father’s ashes, Vic stumbles upon a tight-knit group of outsiders (yep, a nod to the S.E. Hinton book!) each with their own troubles. When they find a message hidden in the urn, the clues lead the kids to discover memories of importance to Vic’s parents. Sweet but never sappy, with a message about kindness, compassion, and living with personal integrity, plus a quirky sense of humor; this book becomes something truly special.

Thank you for joining in and reading along with us for the last few years -I hope you’ve discovered an new favorite author (or two) and (like me) found a little love in your heart for a genre you previously felt “bleh!’ about! (I’m looking at *you* horror genre!)

enjoy!
Stacey

Megan’s Top Ten (Sixteen) Teen Reads of 2016

Every year I agonize over which books will earn a place on my end of the year favorites list. This year I decided to quit fretting and just make multiple lists! First up, my favorite YA reads of 2016. In alphabetical order:

  1. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds. This ripped from the headlines story of police brutality and race relations is an intense must-read.

all-american

2. All In and Bad Blood (The Naturals #3 and 4) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The Naturals series     is Criminal Minds with teens. It’s smart, suspenseful, and dark.

all-in bad-blood

3. Calamity (The Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson. The final showdown between the Epics and the Reckoners is all about redemption. A perfect series finale.

calamity

4. Carry on by Rainbow Rowell. Readers were introduced to Simon Snow and Baz in Fangirl. Carry On is the novel version of the fan fiction that Cath writes. Very meta.

carry-on

5. The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathon Stroud. Full of twists and turns and shocking bombshells, this spooky series keeps getting better and better.

creeping-shadow

6. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. It’s always a treat to be able to get new Harry Potter material!

harry

7.  If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. This is another timely read about a transgender teen looking to make a fresh start in a new town.

if-i-was

8. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray. The sequel to The Diviners is another spooky journey into the supernatural world of 1920’s New York City.

lair

9. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand. Fans of The Princess Bride will love this hilarious, somewhat true(ish) account of Lady Jane Grey. A romantic, historical fiction tale with a touch of the paranormal. This is the first of a planned “famous Janes” series.

my-lady

10.  The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater. Why did the Raven Cycle have to come to an end??

raven

11. The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter. One year in the lives of three teens living in a small Tennessee town. This one is a heart breaker.

serpent-king

12. Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King. It’s always a good year when you get a new A.S. King book.

still

13. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab. For fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, this is a tale of two teens living in a broken world of violence and monsters. So much to love in this dark urban fantasy.

this-savage-song

14. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown. This might be my surprise favorite book of the year. Let me tell you: this is a novel in verse about cannibals. Please and thank  you!

to-stay-alive

15. The Tournament at Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years #1) by John Flanagan. I will never tire of Halt and Crowley! This new series takes readers back to when Halt was the apprentice.

tournament

16. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Black Swan meets Orange is the New Black. This one is weird and I loved it.

walls-around-us

Happy Reading!

~Megan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s International Women’s Day! March 8th is a worldwide celebration of women and their achievements and a call for gender equality.  Take today to celebrate being YOU or any of the special ladies in your life!  Last night I started reading Gloria Steinem’s latest, My Life on the Road, which feels pretty appropriate for this week.  (My signed copy was a Christmas gift!)  I tried to jot down a quick list of some of my favorite women authors and I kept thinking of writers of children’s books.  It turns out I grew up reading some pretty great women, so I mixed those in with other classics.  What women have shaped your bookshelves over the years?

jane eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

handmaid's tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

little house

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

murder on the orient

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

julie wolves

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

harriet the spy

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

stepping cracks.jpg

Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn

from the mixed up files

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konigsburg

~Lauren

Wintry Reads for Wintry Days

*I wrote this post yesterday, after spending two hours digging myself out of the latest snowfall. Today is all sunshine and the drip, drip, drip of melting icicles. I stand by my list.*

Snow and cold getting you down? I say surrender. Give up. Hide out. Grab a book, some snacks, and your favorite slippers and hide until spring. Spring has to come eventually, right? Or are you more of the snow bunny type, rejoicing in all this fluffy, fluffy snow? Either way, I recommend checking out one of these wintry reads!

1. The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is two stories in one. In the present two sisters cope with the loss of their father and try to relate to their always cold and mother. In the past, that same mother was a young girl in war-torn Leningrad.

winter garden

2. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a retelling of a Russian fairy tale, transported to the snow tundra of Alaska during the 1920s.

snow child

3. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan takes place in a soon-to-be-closing Red Lobster during a snowstorm just days before Christmas.

last night at the lobster

4. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin is where you’ll find the often repeated refrain “Winter is coming.”

game of thrones

5. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer tells the chilling (see what I did there?) story of what happens when the moon is knocked out of its orbit. Let’s just say it gets really cold.

life as we knew it

6. The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney tells the tale of a murdered fur trader in an isolated Canadian wilderness community.

tenderness of wolves

7. Stork, Flock, and Frost by Wendy Delsol is set in chilly Minnesota and features the Icelandic Stork Society, an ancient society charged with matching unborn souls with mothers. Jack Frost and The Snow Queen also make appearances!

stork flock frost

8. City of Thieves by David Benioff is the story of Kolya and Lev, two men with nothing in common except the fact their lives depend on their ability to find eggs in the frozen city if Leningrad during the siege.

city of thieves

9. A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchey is a cozy story about a bed and  breakfast on the west coast of Ireland and guests who stay there.

week in winter

And since you have been such good sports about all these snow-filled titles, here is a beach read to get you excited about warm weather!

10. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter has nothing to do with winter, though there is a character who is writing a screenplay for a film about the Donner Party. The characters are unforgettable, and the descriptions of the Vergogna, the cliff-side villa in Southern Italy will have you packing your bags!

beautiful ruins

Enjoy your escape!

˜Megan

I Read YA, Do You?

YA (young adult) literature isn’t just for teens anymore. It appears that the movie industry has finally wised up to something that fans of YA have known for years: YA books are AWESOME (and apparently make great movies). So, you’ve read Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and maybe even The Perks of Being a Wallflower. What’s next?

 

White Cat by Holly Black. This is the first book in The Curse Workers series. It’s like The Sopranos with magic. Set in an alternate reality America, some people have the supernatural ability to manipulate the minds, memories, emotions, and luck of others with the touch of a hand. Other curse workers have the power to kill, transform, or physically injure others. Curse work is illegal, workers are feared, and most are criminals, mobsters, and con artists. Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of workers but he has no curse skill. He is an outcast, a con artist, and a murderer….dun dun dun!

white cat2

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Thanks to the success of The Walking Dead, zombies are all the rage and YA has TONS of awesome zombie fare. One of my favorites is this trilogy by Carrie Ryan. Mary has grown up in relative safety, while the Unconsecrated roam the forest and unrelentingly attempt to get beyond the fences. When the wall it breached Mary has to choose between the life she has always known and the dangers of the great unknown. Dark, intense, and never once is the word zombie mentioned!

forest of hands and teeth original

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Are you a history buff? You won’t want to miss this awesome steampunk take on WWI! Here’s the scoop: the year is 1914, and Europe is on the verge of a war. Prince Alek, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne is on the run from the Clanker Army. Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, is an airman for the British Air Force learning to fly the genetically engineered air beast, the Leviathan. The two form an uneasy alliance as they struggle to protect their secrets and stay alive. Clankers vs Darwinist! Giant walking machines vs. Giant flying beasts. This is the first in a trilogy as well.

leviathan

The Diviners by Libba Bray. Flappers are once again hip, thanks to the remake of The Great Gatsby! How would you like your Flappers with a side of supernatural demonic serial killer? So. Freaking. Creepy.

diviners

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Speaking of creepy! Love Dexter? Check out this series starring Jasper Dent, the son of the countries most notorious serial killer.

i hunt killers

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Sure, Iron Man is a really hot cyborg, but Cinder is a cyborg version of Cinderella. This first book in the series is a futuristic retelling of the Cinderella story, complete with a handsome prince and a wicked stepmother.

cinder

I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak. Not into all the dark, supernatural stuff? No problem! From the author of The Book Thief (have you read that one? No? You should!) comes the story of Ed Kennedy, my favorite nobody. Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old Australian cab driving who lives with a smelly old dog, pines away for his best friend, Audrey, and loves to play cards. He’s an ordinary guy, going nowhere fast, until the day he foils a bank robbery. His glory is short-lived, but shortly after the would-be robber is sentenced, Ed receives an ace of clubs with three addresses written on it. And so begins Ed’s new adventure.

i am the messenger

Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt. This book was recently chosen as NPR’s Back Seat Book Club selection and a personal favorite of mine. Doug has a time life at home and now that he has moved to a new, small town things don’t look much better. Both his dad and his brother are bullies and his other brother is away in Vietnam. With nothing to do and no friends, Doug finds himself at the library. There he discovers Audubon’s birds and a talent he never knew he had. I did not expect to become so completely emotionally tangled up with Doug and his problems. And the birds! Audubon’s birds! Really? Yes! I have read this one twice now and I am sure I will read it again.

okay for now

Are you read for this summer big YA movie? I don’t know about you, but I am so excited to see City of Bones by Cassandra Clare on the Big Screen!

city of bones

Happy Reading!

˜Megan