Spring 2020 Featured Titles
available on Libby / OverdriveFive Feet Apart | by Rachael Lippencott | Audiobook
Stella Grant is a control freak but she has to be. She has cystic fibrosis and a regimented daily meds schedule and an organized living environment helps her manage her symptoms. Stella needs and desperately wants a lung transplant and she will follow doctor’s orders to do whatever it takes to stay on the transplant list, with one exception. She has to stay six feet away from Will Newman, the cystic fibrosis patient staying in the same hospital ward just a few doors away. Will is participating in a new drug trial as part of his treatment because he also suffers from a dangerous contagious infection that destroyed his chance for a lung transplant. Stella’s medical team warns her that she must stay away from Will because it could put her transplant chances in jeopardy. Despite doctor’s orders Stella and Will develop a friendship but what will the medical consequences be?
Why Leah liked this book: The story is told in alternating chapters from Stella and Will’s point of view. Both teens have cystic fibrosis but their how they react to the disease is completely opposite. Stella is the perfect patient and Will is a careless patient. Stella longs for a lung transplant so she can extend her life and remain as healthy as possible. Will wants to leave the hospital environment and explore the outside world, even if it means he won’t live as long. As the relationship between the two teens grows, they learn valuable lessons from each other.
Piecing Me Together | by Renee Watson
A gifted black girl, Jade, is a scholarship student attending an elite high school in Portland. Jade struggles with a mentoring program meant to empower disadvantaged students like her because it does not feel authentic and meaningful. She knows she must show how racism impacts her life and goals even if that means losing some friendships. This 2018 young adult novel received the Coretta Scott King Award from the American Library Award Association and was named a Newbery Honor Book by the Association for Library Service to Children.
Why Amy recommends this book: Rene Watson delivers a beautiful account of the challenges of staying true to oneself despite the well-meaning actions of people who perpetuate racism without even knowing it. Jade escapes from stereotypes and people trying to “fix” her through her art which helps shine a light on society’s many contradictions. It through these heartbreaking experiences that Jade can finally piece her true self together. This is a must read for all ages and backgrounds.
The Sun Is Also a Star | by Nicola Yoon | Audiobook
Teens Natasha and Daniel meet by chance in New York City when Natasha is on her way to meet with an immigration lawyer in a desperate effort to save her family from deportation. She only has a few hours left; they are scheduled to be deported to Jamaica the next day. Daniel is reluctantly on his way to a college admission interview with a Yale University alumnus at the urging of his parents. In a fateful moment, Daniel pulls Natasha to safety to save her from being hit by a speeding car. Daniel looks into Natasha’s eyes and immediately falls head over heels for her. He invites her to lunch and in gratitude for his heroic efforts she agrees. Over lunch they exchange their opposing philosophies on life, Natasha is practical and Daniel is a dreamer. He believes they are destined to fall in love but he has less than twenty-four hours to win her heart.
Why Leah recommends this book: This book is one of my all-time favorites. At first glance this book might appear to be about teen romance but it is much more complex than that. I enjoyed its multilayered story with themes of fate versus free will, racial prejudice and social injustice. I found this a particularly moving story because it brings together two culturally diverse characters that come from different ethnic backgrounds but share family experiences of prejudice. This realistic young adult fiction novel is both heartwarming and heartbreaking with a satisfying conclusion.
I Am The Messenger | by Markus Zusak | Audiobook
Ed’s existence as a nineteen-year-old cab driver revolves around mundane routines which he has not yet accepted as his lot in life. He wants to achieve more and for his best friend, Audrey, to love him back. His journey to the extraordinary begins when Ed finds himself in the middle of a robbery that he helps stop and soon begins receiving mysterious assignments on playing cards through the mail. Ed must decide whether he is capable of completing these tasks and whether to find out who is sending him the messages. Some tasks are more distressing than others, but Ed’s experiences give him the confidence to know that he can make a difference.
Why Amy likes this book: I read this book as an adult and fell in love with not only the author’s writing, the original plot and authentic dialogue, but also its lessons about having the courage to improve yourself when you believe you are too ordinary to go after the life you want. I think this speaks to the same fears we all have which makes it a very powerful story. It also changed my perspective about how we measure success. While I loved the ending, you will either love or hate the unexpected twist at the book’s conclusion- it seems there is no in between with most readers.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda | by Becky Albertalli | Audiobook
Simon Spier is a popular high school junior who tells his three best friends, Nick, Leah and Abby almost everything, well almost everything. Simon isn’t ready to tell them he is gay. He hasn’t shared his sexual identity with anyone until recently. He’s been exchanging flirty emails with a mysterious admirer who goes by the pen name Blue. Simon uses an email alias as well to keep his identity a secret. Classmate Martin Addison reads Simon’s email when he forgets to log off of the computer in the school library and discovers he is gay. Martin threatens to blackmail Simon unless he helps him get a date with Abby. If he refuses, Martin will reveal publicly that Simon is gay. How can Simon ignore Martin’s demands and be a loyal friend to Abby without running the risk of being outed?
Why Leah recommends this book: Simon is a smart, witty and likable character with an authentic voice. I felt a lot of empathy for Simon throughout the novel. Martin’s emotional blackmail scheme is cruel and insensitive. Initially Simon isn’t ready to share his sexual identity, especially with his dad, and his best friend, Nick. Simon eventually finds a way to stay true to his friends and most of all himself, which takes courage and determination. This book is a moving story about first love, high school friendships and unconditional acceptance.
The Crossover | by Kwame Alexander | Audiobook
This novel-in-verse is narrated by 8th grader, Josh, who shares his thoughts in prose about his twin brother, Jordan, parents and experiences playing basketball. While Josh’s family is loving and supportive, he tries to understand why his dad, a former basketball star, never had the knee surgery necessary to make it to the big leagues and tries to keep up with the expectations of his mother, the assistant school principal. Meanwhile, Josh feels ditched by Jordan as his brother spends more and more time with his new girlfriend. Just as things come together at school, his family finds itself in crisis and he must set aside his insecurities and conflicts to face his worst fears.
Why Amy likes this book: A Newbery Medal Winner, Coretta Scott King Honor Award and 2015 YALSA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, the author beautifully blends experiences of family, love and grief while touching upon contemporary race issues in an original and authentic voice. While successfully dispelling the idea that men should not articulate their feelings, I also appreciated that Kwame Alexander pulls in a wide range of readers who might not otherwise pick up a book about sports. I was surprised by how powerful this story felt to me. Joshua’s insights speak to so many of us who have experienced challenges on and off the "court." His tenderness is compelling when he writes, “Never let anyone lower your goals. Others’ expectations of you are determined by their limitations of life…” as well as “If you miss enough of life’s free throws you will pay in the end.” You can also find the prequel, Rebound and the follow-up books Booked and The Playbook.
Series to Read Alone While You Stay at Home
Leah's Books that will get you "Hooked on Hoopla"
The Age of Legends Series
Gifted with the ability to communicate with the dead, twin sisters Ashyn and Moria protect the living from the spirits that inhabit the Forest of the Dead. The most deadly criminals in the kingdom are banished to this forest to die. Ashyn is the Seeker and can communicate with the spirits, helping them move on to a peaceful afterlife. Moria is the Keeper and she is trained to keep the tormented souls from leaving the Forest of the Dead if they cannot pass onto the next life. Once a year the Seeker enters the Forest of the Dead to perform a ritual and quiet the tortured spirits but the annual ceremony does not go as planned. Ashyn and Moria are ambushed and separated by supernatural forces. They journey across barren landscapes filled with peril to warn the emperor of the impending danger and to find their way back to each other.
I liked this series because it is a fantasy adventure with strong powerful female characters. The bond between twin sisters Ashyn and Moria is unbreakable and I identified with the theme of sisterhood that runs throughout the story line of all three books.This plot driven series is filled with action, intrigue and supernatural creatures but most of all sisterly love and loyalty.
The Artemis Fowl Series
An action packed story filled with humor about a 12- year-old boy genius who captures a fairy named Holly for ransom to restore his family’s fortune and help his mother. Little does Artemis know that Holly and her supernatural allies from the LEPrecon (lower elements police) are a force to be reckoned with.
I like this series because Artemis is a brilliant strategist who uses his knowledge of technology and fairy tales to outsmart his magical enemies. The supernatural characters including fairies, dwarves, goblins and others are depicted in nontraditional roles. There is a strong conflict between good and evil but the story is told from both Artemis and the fairies points of view. The reader must ultimately decide who is good and who is evil.
The Lorien Legacies Series
This fast paced series is about a small group of gifted teens from an alien planet called Lorien that was ravaged by their enemies, the Mogadorians. These special kids known as the Garde have been sent to earth with their protectors to hide until their special powers or legacies fully develop, which happens when they reach teenhood. The Mogadorians are out to hunt and destroy them before their legacies mature. The first book in the series takes place in rural Ohio and centers around the protagonist, John Smith, his guardian, Henri and his dog, Bernie Kosar.
I like this series because it’s a good mix of the typical trials and tribulations of earthly high school along with action packed alien showdowns and battles. If you like books that draw you in and move quickly then give this series a try.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series
Percy Jackson, the twelve year old protagonist of the story, is about to get kicked out of boarding school. He has been kicked out of six schools in six years but it’s not his fault. He has ADHD and dyslexia and sometimes concentrating at school is difficult. After his most recent school expulsion his mother learns from Percy’s best friend, Grover, that Percy is in danger. He convinces Percy’s mom, Sally, to take the three of them to Camp Half-Blood where they will be safe. But on their way to camp a Minotaur attacks them and Percy’s mom disappears in a flash of light. Percy learns that he is demigod and the son of Poseidon. He sets out on a mission with his friends Grover and Annabeth to rescue his mom.
Percy is a demigod and a hero but he also has dyslexia and ADHD. He struggles to pay attention in school and he finds writing and reading assignments difficult. He is a demigod but he struggles with the reading and writing challenges that are shared by many children. His learning differences make him a character kids can relate to and root for and remind them of themselves.
The Heroes of Olympus Series
For readers who enjoyed the Percy Jackson and The Olympians books, this series continues Percy’s story with old friends from Camp Half-Blood along with new characters from Camp Jupiter. Jason, Frank and Hazel are descendants of Roman gods. In the first book, Percy and the teen demigods from both camps join together to battle the Greek Earth Goddess, Gaea, who plans to destroy the world.
I enjoyed this series because it reunites Percy and his Camp Half- Blood friends as well as introducing new characters based on Roman mythology..The author includes some lesser known gods which are fun to learn more about. If you enjoy mythological fiction filled with suspense and humor this could be the series for you.
The Kane Chronicles Series
Carter and Sadie Kane are brother and sister. Unbeknownst to them, they are descendants of Egyptian pharaohs and magicians. When their father, Dr Julius Kane, a well known Egyptologist, takes them to a British museum, he tries to summon the Egyptian god, Osiris of the underworld. He accidentally summons Set, a god of chaos, who banishes Dr Kane to oblivion. Carter and Sadie set out on a mission to rescue their dad and they will unravel a family secret that goes back to the time of the pharaohs in the process.
I like this series because author Rick Riordan turns the action up a notch and the stories unfold even faster than in his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Chapters are short and fast paced, filled with humorous dialog, which will appeal to even reluctant readers.
The Gone Series
Sam is a fourteen year old boy living in Perdido, California who likes to surf with his best friend, Quinn. On a November day while Sam is in history class everyone over the age of 15 disappears instantly with no explanation and no trace left behind. Sam and his friends soon discover they have also lost contact to the outside world due to an invisible barrier that has mysteriously surrounded their town. There is no internet, cell phone or television signals. The children realize they are completely alone and chaos erupts. Lines are drawn and alliances are made, bullies terrorize the weak, rich kids versus the townies. Hunger and bullies are not Sam’s only problems, his fifteenth birthday is only weeks away. ‘Will he disappear too?
I liked this series because it’s dystopian science fiction with a horror element mixed in. I also liked the premise of the series because it’s original and refreshing. The books are intense with a strong theme of good versus evil. Fans of The Hunger Games and the Divergent series might enjoy this series as well.
The Shattered Realms Series
Ash, the son of the Queen of Fells, is a powerful and magical healer. He wants to bring the evil King Gerard of Arden to justice because Ash believes his men are responsible for killing his sister, Princess Hana, the heir to the throne. Rebel Jenna Bandelow, orphaned at birth, shares a hatred for King Gerald for his brutal acts and seeks revenge. Ash’s and Jenna’s paths cross by chance but their hatred for the king will forge a bond between them that cannot be broken.
I like this series because there are strong female characters in non-stereotypical roles. A Queen can solely rule her kingdom without a husband and an heir to the throne can be female. Princesses can choose to be military leaders and wield a sword. If you like to read books about females that are smart, tough and gritty, read the Shattered Realms series.
Have You Read These Books?
Ryan's Young Adult Picks Available on Hoopla
Guitar Notes by Mary Amato | ISBN-10: 1606841246
Everyone expects Lyla Marks to be perfect. For all intents and purposes, she is: she is an excellent student, a great best friend, and is so proficient at playing the cello that Julliard may be in her future. But all that perfection has left her feeling hollow. When she starts experimenting at playing the guitar during her free period, she rediscovers her passionate love of music. She also gains the ire of fellow classmate Tripp, a loner and fellow musician with a big chip on his shoulder. What starts as an angry note yelling at Tripp to clean up his mess eventually leads to tutorials on guitar, and even some songwriting. Slowly but surely, the two begin a correspondence via a guitar case that leads to something neither of them was expecting: friendship.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: I'm actually not a big fan of young adult romance novels, but this title did a good job of establishing the characters as individuals first before they start interacting in-person. I also liked Lyla a lot as a character. The novel emphasized the potential negative effects and pressure if someone tries too hard to be "perfect" all the time.
The Doomsday Box by Herbie Brennan | ISBN-10: 0061756504
Four British teenagers, all part of a top secret government science team, travel to upstate New York to investigate a mysteriously abandoned military base. While using technology to project their forms into a missile silo, they uncover an object that contains a virulent plague capable of killing most of the people on Earth. After the box is inadvertently opened, the teens rush into a time bending adventure into the past. Now in 1960’s Moscow, they attempt to confront the man, an American posing as a Soviet double agent, who will one day become their enemy… and try to convince him not to be.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: This book was a sequel, which I actually didn't know until I looked up more about the book after I had read it. The kids read as really British which I really liked. The dialogue is really snappy and smart between the characters. The time travel plot was complex, but not overly so.
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman | ISBN-10: 0062009702
We’re all afraid of something. But for the seven kids who are sent to Fort Eden, what terrifies them can’t be cured by conventional psychotherapy. With most of the group in the hands of the ghoulish Rainsford, Will Besting escapes before he reaches the base. He then watches with fascination as Rainsford apparently cures each patient, but begins to notice side effects that don’t seem to be subsiding. Is this magical “cure” too good to be true?
Why Ryan Liked This Book: This title is structured very much like a horror movie. I'm a horror movie fan, and- full disclouse- sometimes I like books to be a little spooky and scary if I'm in the right mood. The evil mad scientist doctor is a little 2-dimensional, but he is in the book thankfully very little. I like that all the kids had problems desperate enough to put them in kind of a far-fetched situation. The twist ending is interesting, and I really liked the main character Will a lot.
Invasion (A C.H.A.O.S. Novel) by Jon S. Lewis | ISBN-10: 1595547533
Colt McAlister is just a laid back blonde-haired California surfer boy. So why do squiggly sea monsters try to eat him alive while he’s surfing? Why is his new teacher a Bigfoot-inspired drill sergeant? And most importantly, why did his parents have to die in an “accident” that turns out to be no accident at all? As Colt transitions to life in Arizona, making new friends in Dani and Oz, he is also recruited by the Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural. Now fighting against aliens bent on world domination through mind-control, Colt struggles to learn the real truth behind his parents’ death.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: This is much more of a light read; it's a little bit "Men in Black" meets "I am Number Four." I think the setup for for the government agency Colt works for is a little too fantastic and silly, but I found Colt himself to be relatable. This one sets up a mystery with his parents that was fairly interesting. There is a Book 2 and Book 3.
Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff | ISBN-10: 0761375260
Running away from home can be tough, but when you are on the streets of Greenpoint with some of the best friends ever, Kid somehow makes it through. Life might be rough, but when Scout rolls into town and sets up shop underneath Fish’s bar, Kid is immediately smitten. They play music together and start to fall in love. But the cops keep showing up to ask Kid about that fire last summer, the big warehouse one where Kid’s ex Felix died. Kid still misses him a lot, and can’t deal with the questions the cops- or Scout- keep asking him. When his parents get involved, it stirs up all the old trouble from home. Will Scout stick around or bail? Told with complete gender neutrality, readers have the choice to read either Kid or Scout as a boy or as a girl.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: I didn't really notice that Kid wasn't given a gender until after I was finished. The story is depressing, as you read later when meeting Kid's parents that he had pretty good reasons for running away. Angsty but good.
You by Charles Benoit | ISBN: 0061947040
Kyle Chase isn't a bad kid. He isn't really a good kid, either. He just is; he goes to school and hangs out with his friends. All that changes when he meets Zach, the articulate and outgoing "new kid" with a fondness for suit jackets. When Zach rescues him from a jock beating, Kyle begins to slowly accept him as a friend. As this new kid becomes more and more erratic, Kyle fears something bad will happen. When it finally does, will it already be too late? This engaging story serves as a cautionary tale that for a life of inaction there can be really serious, potentially fatal, consequences.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: When the character of Zach is introduced, you know that something is "off" about him. Even Kyle accepts this, but the story of their friendship is genuine and sincere. Sometimes you like people who are different from you. The general sense of uneasiness builds in the story in a slow, concentrated way until the climax.
Out of the Blue by S.L. Rottman | ISBN-10: 1561454990
Stuart’s mom just got promoted; she’s the commander of a North Dakota army base. Stuart is no stranger to living on a base; he’s been living on them his whole life. This is the first time, however, that he and his mom are on their own. His brother just went off to college and his dad went to go take care of their grandmother. Well, his parents are really splitting up because all they do is fight all the time. Stuart knows his dad just had to get away from his mom. With nothing to do on the new base, Stuart befriends his younger neighbor. He starts noticing that there’s something a little off about his new friend… and his constant injuries lead him to suspect that somebody might be hurting the kid. When his mother gets deployed overseas and leaves him alone, Stuart realizes he should tell someone what’s going on… but will he be too late?
Why Ryan Liked This Book: Honestly, I had never thought about what it was like for a kid living on an army base. How do they go to school? How do they make friends? This book delves into that from a 1st person perspective.
Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald | ISBN-10: 0763639362
A cute story about two girls with essentially the same problem; they don’t really like their life, so they run away to start a new one. Emily is a reserved and organized Oxford student who has just been dumped by her boyfriend. She runs away not just to avoid her broken heart, but also to defy her father’s insane expectations. Tasha is a California party girl who, after an indiscretion with a reality TV star in a hot tub, is branded a “slut” by everyone in her life. With her mother not even speaking to her and a blurred out picture of her in every tabloid, Tasha runs away where no one knows her. Due to the fact that the girls enter a semester abroad program at the last minute, they directly switch with each other. When their old problems arise in their new lives, they reach out to each for support; and make a great new friend in the process.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: It's a modern, realistic update on a "Freaky Friday"-type situation where the characters are fully aware that they have swapped lives. I was much more interested in the British girl, but I really did like both characters a lot.
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani | ISBN-10: 0061451029
Viola isn’t happy. She’s pissed, point of fact. Her parents have up and left her. They’ve gone off to Iraq to make a documentary. It’s what they do. So, do they let her stay by herself in their awesome Brooklyn home? No, they don’t. They ship her off to a boarding school in Indiana. Viola hates it before she even starts. Then… a funny thing happens. She meets her roommates. She starts getting involved in a film project at the school. And she keeps seeing a mysterious woman in red. Maybe boarding school isn’t so bad after all.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: I picked this book up based on the cover. I just thought I would like it. It really exceeded my expectation. It's a story of how a very lonely, creative girl builds a group of friends. It's also relatable to anyone who has started at a new school and doesn't love it at first. I went from public school to private school and had a similar experience. This book has a sequel which has always been on my list to read. I liked this book so much that I went on to read Very Valentine.
The Last Full Measure by Ann Rinaldi | ISBN: 0547389809
The rebels are coming! This is the reality that young Tacy Stryker can’t ignore in early July 1863. Taking place during the early days of United States’ Civil War, Tacy finds herself in the middle of murderous combat. As the Confederates slowly take over her hometown of Gettysburg, the growing distance between Tacy and her older crippled brother David only increases.
Why Ryan Liked This Book: Reading this book was actually an assignment for one of three titles I reviewed for Booklist from the America Library Association. I'll admit, I probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been "homework." I don't find Revolutionary War-era books or historical fiction in general very appealing. That said, Ann Rinaldi created a very engaging protaganist that drew me in to this story. Right away, I found myself invested in the characters. The book seems to me to be fairly historically accurate while also creating a smart, strong female main character.
Have You Read These Books?
Ryan's Young Adult Picks Available on Libby / OverdriveWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
This is the story of two very different boys with the same name. The first Will Grayson is straight; a reluctant sidekick to his fabulous best friend “Tiny” Cooper. Tiny is a very large and very popular gay football player. When he starts interfering in Grayson’s love life, specifically with the girl he likes named Jane, the two childhood friends eventually stop speaking. The second Will Grayson, a quiet and withdrawn boy from a Chicago suburb, never really opens up to anyone. His only solace is his computer and the cute boy who talks to him nearly every day. As he makes plans to finally meet the boy of his dreams, he is rocked by a shocking betrayal… and happens to fatefully meet the other Will Grayson, and Tiny, in the middle of one fateful night.
Trapped by Michael Northrop
When you live in a small town that gets snow in the winter like most tropical jungles get rain, you get used to it. So when the snow starts falling one afternoon, Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason think it’s no big deal. They stay after school to work on a go cart, but they soon learn- along with a few other stragglers who haven’t left yet- the horrifying fact that they can’t leave school now even if they wanted to. The snow has gotten too bad. As Scotty struggles to hold the group together, everyone realizes just how much trouble they are in when the heating system goes dead. Will one of them be next?
Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie
Larkin Pace is at that age. He’s not a child anymore, but he’s not quite a teenager yet, either. He has a hopeless crush on his best friend Brooke who seems completely oblivious to his affections. What’s worse, she starts to pay attention to Dalton Cooke, Larkin’s nemesis from school. Larkin’s English teacher has him begin writing a written blog for class, where Larkin dispels both his antagonistic relationship with his older sister and his encyclopedic knowledge of movie facts and trivia. With clever illustrations throughout, this is for all the kids who have grown out of their love for “Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
Swim the Fly by Don Calame
Every year, swimmer Matt and his two best friends in the world Sean and Coop set a new goal for the summer. This year? They’ve upped the stakes: They decide to see a real, live girl naked. This leads to some pretty embarrassing situations for the boys as they try to achieve the goal. From dressing up as girls to sneak into a ladies locker room, to trying to sneak a peak at girls trying on bathing suits, to finally a desperate attempt to get a glimpse at the nearest nude beach… will the boys ultimately succeed?