Top Ten(ner or so) of Twenty-Eighteen

In no particular order (such a rebel this year!):

Nonfiction
Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife
Ok -so now I want a raven!

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Funny, kind, and honest look at who she was, who she is, and who she’s becoming.

What She Ate by Laura Shapiro
The American Plate by Libby O’Connell
I do like to read about food -we really are a reflection of what we eat.

Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
If it’s a “no” on the raven, I’d be happy with a European starling like Carmen…

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
The care and attention paid to the production of this book matches the content.

Rescue Board by Rebecca Erbelding
There’s always more history can teach us, if we’re willing to learn.

Fiction
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Suspenseful, with nuanced characters.

Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
Oh my! Great story about the Great War!

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Even the people closest to you have hidden stories.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
Little white lies, neighborhood gossip, and friendship in tough times.

The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue
Unnerving! -with a great, twisty ending!

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Western + fairy tale + suspense = this book.

Gilded Age by Claire McMillan
Hello Cleveland! Hello CMA’s Jazz Bowl! hello hankie (to dry my tears.)

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
100%! (bonus -if you like audio? Sound Up!)

Teen Fiction
Girl at the Grave by Teri Baily Black
Historical fiction mystery with a touch of feminism.

The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman
Steampunk joy

Juvenile Fiction
Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
Sad to see the series end but loved the journey.

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrack Kelly
A Newbery Medal winner -for a reason!

 

I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring!

-Stacey

Top Ten of 2017 (plus a few) if You Were Asking Me -by Stacey

It’s my favorite time of year! All the sparkly lights and sweet treats and sappy movies? Love ‘em all! …Plus?! It’s time for everyone’s Top Ten books, movies, television, songs and Everything Else! Oh, what’s that? You want to know *my* Top Ten reads of 2018? Well, thanks for asking! Here they are -in alphabetical order- a mix of old, new, true stories, and fiction for all ages:

 

 

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
I’ve learned –and enjoyed!- something from every book Ms. Brown has written and this book continues that tradition! If you’ve never read any of her previous books, I might suggest starting with Daring Greatly.

 

 

 

 

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Odd, creepy, and thought-provoking! (Do you really need more?) Read it before you see it?

 

 

 

 

Evicted by Matthew Desmond
I read this for Notable Books Council but have re-read it in preparation for Our Community Reads –coming in 2018! This book stands the test of time –and repeated reading!

 

 

As You Wish by Cary Elwes
I listened to Cary Elwes read his own memories of making The Princess Bride (one of the most perfect movies ever made!!). Charming! (But maybe more for die-hard fans of the movie than for the general reader…)

 

 

 

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
This must have been a tough book to write but the effort was well worth it. I won’t waste your time with what I liked –read it and you’ll know on your own why it’s so good.

 

 

 

The Gilded Cage by Vic James
A world that feels familiar but isn’t anytime/anywhere I’d like to live. I’d describe this as fantasy with strong social commentary message?

 

 

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Not all superheroes are super people but as the two main characters begin to really consider the world they’re growing up in –part of what they’re learning is the world is less black & white (more shades of gray) than they thought.

 

 

 

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
For all of my enjoyment of a sappy holiday movie –this book would kind of have the opposite effect. The story isn’t easy to read, but I think it’s one of an overlooked gem.

 

 

 

A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty
The final book in The Colors of Madeline series, this book was well worth the wait! The author kept a few good surprises and the ending was just right (for me)!

 

 

 

The Gene: an intimate history by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Taking a huge, almost incomprehensible topic, and making it engaging with personal connections? I give this an A++++!

 

 

 

Blood at the Root by Patrick Philips
Completely disturbing and completely true, this sordid history of a white-only county in Georgia continues to haunt me.

 

 

 

Grocery by Michael Ruhlman
A mini-history of grocery stores with more than a few entertaining shout-outs to Heinen’s, and the brothers currently running this expanding chain.

 

 

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
If you were granted one wish on your 18th birthday, what would you do? In this tiny town in the middle of the Nevada desert, they’re wishes have been granted –but the results aren’t always positive for the wisher…

 

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Thoughtful and timely – oh, please read this one!

 

 

 

 

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
Individual snapshots of how gun violence affects not just the individuals involved but the entire community.

 

Now that I’m done, I notice two big things… I read the same title (on different books) twice and there are a lot of serious-type books on my list. If you’re looking for some of the more upbeat titles I read, you can check out a collection development article I wrote for Library Journal this year called Twice-Told Tales. The books are all classic stories with a twist, for example: telling the story from a different character’s point of view or taking a recognizable storyline from the past and putting in a modern setting.

Happy Reading all Season Long!
-Stacey

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 More than 10 Top Picks of 2015

Normally I love making lists of books, but I agonize over these end of the year favorites lists. After reviewing all the books that I read this year I discovered that this is the first time in many years that I read more adult (non-YA) books that YA books. Does this mean I am a real grown-up now? I hope not! I also noted that this was a year dominated by science fiction, fantasy, and amazing graphic novels.  Ok, let’s get started!

  1. The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones.

string diaries

2. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

fatesfuries

3. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

mistborn

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

uprooted

5. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. (This is a bit of a tease as it isn’t due out until March 2016)

26154406

6. Bingo’s Run by James Levine.

bingos run

7. Lock In by John Scalzi.

lock in

8. The Martian by Andy Weir.

martian

9. Descender, vol.1: Tin Stars by Jeff Trillium.

tin stars

10. Rat Queens, vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery and vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygot by Kurtis Wiebe.

rat1 rat2

Of course, I can’t finish this list without mentioning some of my favorite YA books.

laborden salt to the sea walktheearth wrath Everything everything fixer Wicked will rise Under a painted sky all the rage all the bright places

Happy Reading!

~Megan

Fourteen Fantastic Reads of 2014

This annual post combines two of my favorite things: making lists and talking about amazing books. Of course, it is always a challenge to winnow the list down. A quick look at my first draft of my list (yes, there are multiple drafts), tells me that I read and enjoyed a lot of mysteries and memoirs and a TON of YA. That being said, my final draft has more variety. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite reads of 2014:

1. The Secret Place by Tana French. I think this is the third year in a row that Tana French has made it onto my end of the year Top Reads list. She is amazing.

secret place

2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Last year my list included The Husband’s Secret, which was full of family drama, hidden secrets, suspense, with a touch of romance and humor. That pretty much describes this latest offering. The audio is fantastic.

 

big little lies

3. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Are you looking to feel better about your own quirky family? Check out the hilariously dysfunctional Foxmans!

this is where i leave you

4. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. If someone forced me to pick only one favorite of 2014, I think this would the one.

i'll give you the sun

5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Nonfiction always surprises me. Who knew a book about rowing would be a favorite?!

boys in the boat

6. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. Quirky characters and an unlikely friendship!

universe versus

7. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. This French import is a book about a book…and a murder. Plenty of twists and turns. Read the book before it hits the big screen!

harry

8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Humor and heart! This is another one that is fabulous on audio.

rosie

9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Superpowers and moral ambiguity abound in this dark and dangerous read.

vicious

10. Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys. New Orleans in the 1950. A murder threatens to derail a young girls dreams of a better life. Heartbreaking and lovely.

out of the easy

11. The Storied Life of A.J. Fickery by Gabrielle Zevin.  A love letter to book lovers.

a.j.

12. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. The prolific Mr. King takes a stab at a cat-and-mouse police procedural.

mr. mercedes

13. 10% Happier by Dan Harris. A non-intimidating, practical look at meditation.

10

14. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. A new-to-me series full of wizards and magic and good vs evil. And a skeleton detective. LOVE.

skulduggery

I can’t wait to see what all of my coworkers put on their lists. Be sure to check back all week for more fun lists!

Happy Reading!

∼Megan

 

Bonus: Memorable Memoirs of 2014

yes not my father nph love

 

 

 

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

 

From Muppets to Nightmares

Jason Segel     Most people know Jason Segel from movies like Knocked Up and This is 40 or maybe from the television series, How I met Your Mother. What you might not know is that he is also a writer, having written the screenplays for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the 2011 movie The Muppets. According to the Associated Press, he is going to be using that writing talent to pen a series of books for middle school kids on overcoming your fears, and it’s supposed to be funny as well as scary. He’ll be collaborating with popular author,  Kirsten Miller, to create the series “Nightmares!” and Random House is set to publish it next year.

—Julie

Decide For Yourself

foreverMy first experience with a library censorship issue concerned Judy Blume’s book Forever. It was the late ‘70s and some high school parents had protested the book being in our school library. When I asked why, my boss told me “the book condones pre-marital sex.”  The books I remembered reading as a teen certainly weren’t controversial, so I decided to read Forever myself to see what all the fuss was about.

 What I found was an intriguing story about Katherine, a senior in high school, who is strongly attracted to Michael, who has already been sexually active. As they acknowledge their feelings, they plan for Katherine’s first experience by going to a family planning clinic and getting her on the pill. They both feel that having sex will link them “forever.”

Soon after graduation the couple finds themselves working summer jobs in different states and it takes a toll on their relationship. Even though Katherine considers herself “in love” with Michael, she finds herself romantically attracted to a tennis pro at her summer camp. When Michael comes for a surprise visit, Katherine breaks up with him, telling him she’s found another relationship.

What I read was a sad story about a teen who grew up and learned that she wasn’t ready for a long-lasting relationship and regretted sleeping with her boyfriend while still in high school, not a book that “condoned pre-marital sex.”  My boss and I had a long discussion about our differing views and came to mutual understanding that we’d never agree about the book.

The experience taught me that I needed to read a book for myself and that I didn’t want others taking that right away from me by trying to ban the book from a library or school. Decide for yourself–Keep the right to choose by supporting Freedom to Read Week at your library!

Awards are Always Lovely

How happy, how lucky, how wonderful! A whole bunch of children’s book awards were recently announced at the American Library Association midwinter conference, and I do mean a whole bunch. The John Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor Books, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honor Books,  Coretta Scott King Book Award, Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, are just a few of the twenty-eight total categories. See? Whole bunch! Take at the whole list and see what you think. I know what I think already, I’m thinking this feels like a mini-reading challenge… Are you in?

—Stacey

Why don’t teenage boys read? Here’s why….

Recently, a rather well-written article by a 13-year-old boy was brought to my attention.  The article appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, a trade publication for book buyers and librarians.  He basically wrote the article for book publishers explaining why it’s so hard to market to teenage boys.  It was entitled “Read This b4 You Publish”.  If you care to read it, click here.

I have summarized a few of the reasons he gave for teenage boys, like himself, to be opposed to reading books published for his demographic.  (Although he did give exception to Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, which I suppose, have gotten it right.)

1.  Very few of them use modern language or timely slang terms.

2.  They too often try to cram a “message” into the story about morals, or fairness, or honor, or some other “cornball crap” (his term).

3. Vampires are cool, but the novels that are being published today have too much romance in them or people being “emo” (again, his term).

4.  They too often underestimate their audience.  In particular, their audience’s understanding of politics, jokes, and tolerance of action and horror.

He recommended that publishers concentrate on books with “video-game style plots, zombie attacks, robot attacks, or any excuse to shoot something”.

So, for all of those teenage boys exactly like this very intelligent one, here is a list of just that.   It does not contain books that use archaic language, “emo” characters, too much romance, or “messages”.

1. The Halo series-  This paperback series based on the popular XBox game is all the rage with teen readers.  No message, lots of things blowing up, and fast action.  The volumes are as follows: The Flood (1), First Strike (2), The Fall of Reach (3),  Ghosts of Onyx (4) Cole Protoccol (5) Contact Harvest (6).  All of these can be found in the teen paperback collection.  Parents be warned.  They contain graphic violence and adult themes.

    

2.  Fallen Angels, Sunrise Over Fallujah– Walter Dean Myers
These war novels focus on the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, respectively.  They are well told from the perspective of teens who, through life circumstances, found themselves trying to survive in the middle of a war.  Yes, there is some thought provoking going on about the situations of war, but teenage boys will appreciate the novels’ realistic tones.  Fallen Angels can be found in teen paperback, Sunrise Over Fallujah can be found in Teen Fiction.

 

3. Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead-Max Brooks
This teen paperback is a tongue-in-cheek examination on the most effective strategies, weapons, and techniques for surviving these predatory monsters.

4.  The Demonata series-Darren Shan
Darren Shan is now well known for his original horror series, Cirque du Freak, which was aimed at tweens.  This series is aimed at older teens.  It is bloody, graphic, and at times, terrifying.  The first book of the series, Lord Loss (teen fiction), introduces Grubs Grady, a teenage boy who returns home one evening to find his family slaughtered horrifically by a demon names Lord Loss who feeds on human pain and suffering.  The demon’s minions try to attack him, but he manages to escape, at least physically.  He winds up in a mental institution, traumatized by what he has seen.  His uncle, Uncle Dervish, then shows up out of the blue and helps him to realize that the demons he has seen are real, and he holds a special power over them that has been passed down through generations.  This is one for the horror loving teen.  The books are entertaining, gory and fast paced.