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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (2012)

shattermeImagine what it would do to a person to never feel the touch of another human being. Not because of loneliness, but out of fear. Something in Juliette’s body causes anyone who makes contact with her skin to undergo such excruciating pain that if contact has been made long enough, they will die.

In and out of doctors’ offices, psychiatric care, and more, her parents just want to rid themselves of their burden after the unspeakable happens. Juliette’s in an asylum—this is her life now. Until a government official takes interest in her and takes her in. Perhaps he can make use of this…gift. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is filled with anticipation, heartache, and maybe, just maybe, a chance for Juliette to find love. This is her story.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

thugI definitely understand why this book is so popular. The Hate U Give is powerful, engaging, thought provoking, and topical. It is a well-written, realistic story with diverse, well-developed characters. Author Angie Thomas addresses uncomfortable issues such as racism (both intentional and unintentional), white privilege, and police brutality.

I loved the main character, Starr, a teenage girl who witnesses her friend being killed by a cop. The rest of the story revolves around the effects of this tragedy on Starr and her family (who are all wonderful characters), friends, and community. At times I felt angry, at other times I felt sad, and then there were times I was laughing. All in all, it was a very emotional read, and one I highly recommend!
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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (2018)

princedressmakerWhen Frances creates an outrageous new dress for a client, her talent is noticed by the royal palace. But her position isn't what she originally expected...it turns out that Prince Sebastian wants her to design dresses for him to wear as the wonderful Lady Crystallia.

Frances and Sebastian strike up an understanding immediately, with Frances designing the most extravagant dresses, making Lady Crystallia a fashion icon in Paris.

Jen Wang's illustrations are a thing of beauty. I adored this graphic novel that features acceptance, fabulous dresses, and love. (No, seriously, I hugged it after finishing it. I didn't want to bring it back to the library!) Lucky for all our patrons, I did. The Prince and the Dressmaker is available to check out in our Teen Lounge.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (2016)

Dystopian writing at its best—it is the distant future, and humanity has overcome poverty, hunger, and even death, while a seemingly benevolent artificial intelligence known as the Thunderhead watches over everything...almost everything. The one thing left to humanity is to control the overpopulation of the planet, and that is left to the scythes: men and women chosen to kill the populace at random based on a quota system. Some scythes are weighed down by the burden of responsibility while others take great satisfaction in their duties. When two teen scythes are pitted against one another to compete for one opening, it sends shockwaves through the entire scythedom.

After reading Neal Schusterman’s Scythe, check out the sequel Thunderhead.

Firstlife by Gena Showalter (2016)

firstlifeImagine if our lives right now weren’t our only lives, that if after we die, there’s another life. But there’s one caveat, we have to choose a side: Myriad or Troika. One, a world of eternal darkness but luxury beyond your deepest desires. The other, a world of eternal light and joy. If you die before choosing, you’re stuck in the Land of Many Ways: a place where you're rumored to be terrorized for all eternity before eventually experiencing your second and final death. Troika and Myriad are rivals trapped in a bitter, never-ending war, looking to recruit the most souls.

Both afterlives are in a race to recruit Tenley Lockwood, but how does she know which is the right choice? This is the afterlife, after all. Once you decide, there’s no going back. Check out Firstlife by Gena Showalter.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015)

simon-vs-agenda-homo-sapiensSimon Spier has a crush on a guy he's never met, his friend group is undergoing major changes, and he's being blackmailed. Junior year is way more complicated than he thought it would be.

I absolutely adore this book. I listened to the audiobook version of this early last year and it remains one of my favorite reads of 2017.

Becky Albertalli balances humor, teen angst, and romance to create a fabulous first novel.

And if you like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, there's another book in the Simonverse: The Upside of Unrequited. (A third book, Leah on the Offbeat, comes out later this year.)

And—Simon is being made into a movie! It was renamed Love, Simon and hit theaters last week. Now's your chance to read the book before you see the movie.

 

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (2013)

testingJoelle Charbonneau’s dystopian novel takes place in the far future and depicts the aftereffects of a nuclear fallout. It asks the question of what makes a good leader. How does a people choose leaders that will act in the best interest of everyone? Leaders who won’t abuse the power they’ve been given and instead help the country flourish under their guidance? The Test that the title refers to hopes to be a solution to this question.

There hasn’t been a candidate chosen for the Testing in Cia Vale’s small town in a very long, long time. It’s why it comes as such a surprise that after graduating, she was chosen. Why was it her and not her brothers who were just as qualified (if not more so)?

The Testing is action-packed with decent pacing that keeps you wondering what will happen next. There is also some romance without it overwhelming the main plot (and no love triangle!). Journey with Cia Vale as she proceeds through a Test of her own.

Part of a trilogy, The Testing is followed by Independent Study and Graduation Day.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (2014)

alltheboysLara Jean Song Covey has written a love letter to every boy she's ever loved. The letters are in her room, in a hatbox, hidden. Until suddenly they are mailed out...

Lara Jean is a fantastic protagonist. She's incredibly family-oriented, with very tight bonds to her father and both of her sisters.

One of my favorite things about this book series is that while Lara Jean may have a romance, her entire story isn't a romance. She has friends, goals, aspirations, and hobbies besides dating.

Both of the romantic possibilities are fleshed-out, and I could see Lara Jean with either of them -- which made it all the more realistic.

All three books in the series are out now, so there's no waiting to find out how Lara Jean's story ends. Start with To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved by Jenny Han, then check out P.S. I Still Love You (book 2) and Always and Forever, Lara Jean (book 3).

 

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio (2015)

I. W. Gregorio’s novel chronicles the struggles teens can face growing up intersex through the eyes of character Kristin Lattimer. After homecoming, Kristin has relations with a fellow teen only to discover her worst nightmare: her body isn’t what she thought it was. None of the Above is a story of discovery, bullying, and ultimately acceptance of ourselves and others. It also serves as a reminder to always be kind: you never know what someone else is going through.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

Angie Thomas’ novel is about two childhood friends who were at a party. They hadn’t seen each other for a long time, as they had grown apart and gone their separate ways. Then, they hear gunshots. They leave the party to go home, only to be stopped by a police officer. This stop had tragic consequences for them both. The aftermath is about the surviving friend and how she deals with the death of her friend and the repercussions for not only herself, but her friends, family, and the entire community. The Hate U Give looks at the perception of how people see you versus what you believe about yourself, as well as the difference between right and wrong.
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Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan (2013)

goldenboyHabo is an albino growing up in Tanzania. He is shunned by his community and even his own family, but the horrors do not begin until Habo and his family move from their rural village to Mwanza. He then finds he needs to stay on the run to avoid hunters who wish to kill him for a bounty because of his condition. The most unbelievable part of this story is that this barbarism exists in Tanzania today. In Golden Boy, Tara Sullivan allows readers to feel Habo's pain and go along on his quest for freedom from the superstitious cruelty of Tanzanian albino hunters.
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Spotlight: Rick Riordan

swordofsummerWhile author Rick Riordan’s focus is currently aimed at children/teenagers, that doesn’t mean they’re off limits for adults. If you’re a fan of action/adventure and different types of mythology, you’re in for a treat! The characters are well developed and have great senses of humor despite the trying circumstances.

If you love Greek or Roman mythology, start with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (first book: The Lightning Thief). For Egyptian, give the Kane Chronicles a shot (first book: The Red Pyramid). Have a fix for Norse? Riordan has recently started on that with Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer!

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds (2015)

boyblacksuitThey always say, "don't judge a book by its cover," but it's hard not to do so sometimes. My eyes were first drawn to The Boy in the Black Suit because of the crinkled look that reminded me of a photo that had been passed around often without protection. All I wanted to do was smooth it out. I was warned that it was kind of a sad book, but I loved it.

I think many of us can relate to Matt who quietly faces the struggle of losing a loved one—that feeling of loneliness when nobody can relate, and they're not sure how to act around you. He ends up working as a pallbearer at the local funeral home. Most people turn to work to keep their mind off the grief, but Matt slowly finds comfort from his job, which allows him to sneak into funerals and listen to people who he can relate to in loss.

The novel also explores his imperfect budding romantic relationship with Lovey, plus his interactions with his boss Mr. Ray and his best friend Chris.

Jason Reynolds did a great job of making Matt a relatable character—he didn't have special powers, he wasn't super attractive or talented, he was just a regular kid living in real life. That's what this book was about: real life with all the ups, downs, and those little moments that make it all worth it.
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Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney (2006)

revengewitchAre you looking for something action packed to satisfy your fantasy fix? Give Joseph Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch a try! It is the first novel of his Last Apprentice series and doesn’t disappoint.

Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son which makes him exceedingly extraordinary. There are only a few others like him in the county and he’s about to be apprenticed to one that is older and wiser: Mr. Gregory, aka the Spook. Their special births causes Tom and other seventh sons to be able to see spirits and detect dark magic that normal people would have no idea is there.

Follow along on Tom’s and the Spook’s adventures, and you’ll be turning the pages into the wee hours of the night! (Though make sure to keep the light bright because these adventures are not for the faint of heart!)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)

giverMany of the recent popular dystopian series like Divergent, The Hunger Games, and Legend (by Marie Lu) can trace their storylines back to The Giver, the book which started it all. In a distant future, people live in a utopian society where everything is controlled—what people say, and think, and do. At age 12, Jonas will go through “the ceremony” to find out what he will do for the rest of his life, but what he soon learns about the past will change his whole world.

Check out the classic by Lois Lowry today.