New to the Kitchen? Check Out These Cookbooks!

Posted on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 by Stellan Harris

It’s the time of year where the ovens are on, the smell of warm spices waft through the air, and many home kitchens will be buzzing with activity. Getting involved in the kitchen can be an intimidating prospect, though, especially if you don’t have too much experience cooking for yourself, let alone others. Well if you’ve ever thought about getting some more experience in the kitchen, I’ve collected a few cookbooks that are great resources to consult to get you started. The books range in difficulty, from books for those of us who are more familiar with a microwave than a pan on the stove, to books for those of use looking for the next fancy dish to post for your friends and followers, so wherever you land on the culinary spectrum you should find something for you on this list. Good luck, and happy cooking! Continue reading “New to the Kitchen? Check Out These Cookbooks!”

‘Tis the Season to be Eatin’

Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 by Dana

Let’s be honest, one of the very best things about the holiday season is the food.

Whether it is feasts of family favorites, traditional specialties, or taking the time to experiment with something new, the ultimate foodie time is upon us.

Check out this list of cookbooks and stories centered around food and recipes or swing by the Teen Display at the Columbia branch and find a book to devour!


2021 Teens’ Top Ten Winners!

Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 by Stellan Harris

2021 Teens’ Top Ten Winners (PDF)Teens' Top Ten | YALSA

The votes have been cast and counted, and now it’s time to reveal the winners of the Teens’ Top Ten book awards! The Teens’ Top Ten award list is a teen choice list where young adults nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year to be highlighted. This project is sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association. Fifteen young adult book clubs from school and public libraries nationwide came together to share the responsibility of determining a list of nominees for teens to consider, and now we can see what books made cut and what books got cut. . (Does your book club want to get involved? Do you want a chance to make your mark on this award list for next year? Learn how.)

Below you’ll find all ten of this years winners, as well as a short annotation to give you some information to help you find out if a book might be for you or not. Happy Reading!


1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

2. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

3. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

4. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

5. Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards
She thought being stranded was the worst thing that could happen. She was wrong. Mira needs to get home for the holidays. Badly. But when an incoming blizzard results in a canceled connecting flight, it looks like she might get stuck at the airport indefinitely. And then Harper, Mira’s glamorous seatmate from her initial flight, offers her a ride. Harper and her three friends can drop Mira off on their way home. But as they set off, Mira realizes fellow travelers are all total strangers. And every one of them is hiding something.

6. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why – or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

7. Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer
Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and irritating residents of her coastal town. She dreams of a world in which people might actually get what they deserve… Pru’s dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled after a night out with her friends, when she wakes up with the sudden, wondrous ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Though it seems almost too good to be true, Pru is not one to ignore such obvious signs from the universe. She giddily starts to make use of the power, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner.

8. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

9. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. Margaret K
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

10. One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus
A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts. Until now. This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Celebrate American Indian Heritage Month!

Posted on Monday, November 1, 2021 by Stellan Harris

The month of November is recognized as American Indian Heritage Month, a month dedicated to honoring important contributions of the first Americans to our society and celebrating the rich variety of cultures, traditions, and histories of Native people. Having origins in 1976 with a proposal for “Native American Awareness Week”, and subsequent efforts to spread awareness of the history of the indigenous experience in this country, and finally being codified into the month-long celebration that we have today in 1990. Though Missouri still bears the names of some of its Native tribes, this state has a long history of mistreating the first people who lived here, so take a chance this November to learn about more about the Native American experience!

  • DBRL has put together a book list of some YA titles focusing on stories told by indigenous authors, books about the modern Native American experience, or digestible histories of how the modern experience came to be. You can also find our primary resource for information on Native American history here.
  • The State Historical Society has a resource related to the “Native American Experience” that includes digital collections, research materials, biographies of some notable Natives from present-day Missouri, and other resources to give you a more solid understanding of the history of the tribes here in Missouri.
  • The Smithsonian has is hosting a number of events for American Indian Heritage month, with a highlight being a week-long film festival from indigenous creators being held from Nov. 12 through Nov. 18, held in cooperation with the National Museum of the American Indian.

Teentober Reviews: Bringing It To An End With Dystopian Fiction

Posted on Friday, October 29, 2021 by Stellan Harris

TeenTober Logo

Attention Citizen: it is the designated time for your state-supplied dose of TeenTober Book Reviews! For any rebel spies who might just be joining us, all throughout the month of October we’ve been celebrating our teen users by highlighting some of the reviews we received from them during our Teen Summer Reading program. This week’s theme, as decided by The Shadowy Government Council, is all about highlighting books with a dystopian theme, whether they are fantasy, science fiction, or maybe a little bit closer to our reality. So gather your tributes, plan your rebellions, and break free of your chains with this week’s reviews! 

Our first review this week comes to us from Julia, with a 5-star review of “Verify” by Joelle Charbonneau. Set in a near future Chicago, this novel follows the story of  Meri Beckley as she recovers from the sudden tragic death of her mother, only to discover that her mother was involved in a secret society dedicated to fighting back against a government bent on censorship and oppression. As Meri learns more about how deeply her society has been warped by government censorship, she decides that she must do whatever it takes to live in a society that is as free as she thought hers was. These themes seemed to really strike a chord with our reviewer, with Julia saying,  “I loved this book because right from the beginning there was a page-turning mystery and suspense. This book urges people to not just go along with what everyone says. It urges you to ask questions, investigate, and educate yourself. Then pass on that information to others.” Questioning authority is a sentiment that is certainly important to keep in mind in times like these. If you want to see a book that deals with that directly, as well as being, “urgent, relatable, and insightful” according to our reviewer, put “Verify” on your to-read list. 

Next we come to a dystopian novel with a bit more of a fantastical flair, as Addie brings us their 4-star review of “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard. This novel follows Mare Barrow as she navigates her society, divided between the supernaturally gifted Silvers and the lowly Reds, and tries to make a life for herself and her family. Yet when she discovers a secret that threatens to overturn her whole world, she is thrust into a life of secrets, intrigue, and a burgeoning revolution. It seems like this story of a fantastical dystopia had appeal beyond fantasy readers, with Addie saying ,“This is the first fantasy book I’ve ever read and I really liked it! Very interesting plot with fun characters and some romance. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars is because I don’t know how great the fantasy is compared to other novels.” Sounds to me like it barely missed that five, but made a new fantasy fan! If you’re on the fence about fantasy or just looking for a little bit more of the supernatural in your dystopian stories, consider giving “Red Queen” a shot!

The last review for this week comes from a reviewer, whose identity is kept secret to protect from assassins, who gave a 4-star review to “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins. A distant prequel to the “Hunger Games” trilogy, this novel follows the exploits of a young Coriolanus Snow, future president of the autocratic state of Panem, as he attempts to make a name for himself in the 10th Hunger Games. Through manipulation, deception, and careful plotting, Coriolanus must find a way to raise his disgraced family out of disgrace and carve a place for himself in the world to come, no matter the cost. Our reviewer seemed to greatly enjoy this prequel, saying that they “…liked this book because I am a “Hunger Games” book series fan…One of the things I most like about this book is at the end of every chapter there is a cliffhanger urging readers to read more. You will get so involved in The tenth “Hunger games” that you will find yourself tuning out the world.” For fans of the Hunger Games who are looking for more in that universe, and a pretty good book according to our reviewers, look no further than “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”. 

And that brings our series of TeenTober book reviews to a close! We have to thank the many teens who submitted reviews to us and gave us permission to highlight them here. We hope that you have found some great books from these reviews and recommendations, and that you return here for more highlights and articles about all things Teen at DBRL. 

TeenTober Reviews: Seeking Myths and Legends with Fantasy Novels

Posted on Friday, October 22, 2021 by Stellan Harris

TeenTober LogoHail and well-met, adventurer! It’s been another week, and that means another chance to see some TeenTober Book Reviews! For any people who might just be joining us, we at DBRL are celebrating TeenTober and all of the wonderful teen users we have by highlighting a number of the book reviews we received from them during our Teen Summer Reading Program. Fantasy is the name of the game for our reviews this week, and if the amount of reviews is anything to go on it seems like plenty of our reviewers fell in love with a fantastical world this summer. So grab your sword, summon your magic, and get ready to be transported to a fantastical world, so very unlike our own. 

This week’s first review, from a reviewer that would prefer to remain anonymous, covers “The Assassin’s Blade” by Sarah J. Maas. A prequel to the very popular “Throne of Glass” series, this novel collects a number of short stories revolving around the titular assassin Celaena Sardothien and her exploits before the events of the first novel in the Throne of Glass series. Yet, based on what our reviewer said about the novel, it is filled with just as much emotion as it is action. “This book was one of the most emotional and heart wrenching books I have ever read…this author had really outdone herself with the writing of this book. It made you feel the characters’ pain, like you were right there with them. I feel this was written beautifully and I will definitely be rereading it after my heartbreak subsides.” That’s one heck of an endorsement! Given that it’s a prequel series, written after the main series, you might want to give “Throne of Glass” and its sequels a shot first. However, if you’ve enjoyed the other “Throne of Glass” novels and are looking for a novel that is “Heart wrenching, beautiful, and emotional” then this is the book for you. 

Our second review of the week comes to us from Vasumathi and covers the “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” series of novels by Rick Riordan. Our reviewer wrote regarding the entire series, but if you’re looking for a place to start then “The Sword of Summer” is the first book in the series. As for the plot, the series focuses on the life of Magnus Chase, a young person experiencing homelessness after a tragic event left him orphaned at a young age. Yet, after an encounter with a family member, young Magnus learns that his family might not be quite what he thought it was. Our reviewer recommends this series to any readers that “love Percy Jackson or just mythology in general,” while describing the novels as “hilarious, plain and simple… the plot line was epic and the characters are the best! There are tons of twists, and it’s one of the many reasons I adore it!” With a glowing review like that, you’d be missing out not to give this series of books a look. 

The third and final review this week comes from another, different reviewer who wished to remain shrouded in mystery while giving us the scoop on “How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories” by Holly Black. Another book coming on the heels of a beloved series, this time the “Folk of the Air” series, this novel gives some background to a major character in those novels, while also re-framing some of the events from the novels through the eyes of this character. I’d advise you to check out the previous novels in the series first, starting with “The Cruel Prince” before you give this novel a shot, largely because of how much our reviewer said that the previous reading improved this novel. “It featured a main character that I adored from the trilogy he originated from, and several scenes from the original Folk of the Air trilogy told from a perspective that I desperately wanted to see. The short stories that make up the book all have their value, whether it’s just fun clips with characters or riveting moments that hold their own weight in emotion. A fun and well needed addition to a good series!” Sounds to me like if you’re looking for a series with some great supplemental books then this is one to follow. 


And that brings our quest for another week of Teentober Book Reviews to an end, fellow travelers. Rejoin us at this very spot next week for the final week of reviews this year, and even afterwards for more book lists, resources, and event spotlights for all things Teen offered at DBRL. 

DIY Haunted House

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2021 by Dana

It’s Spooky Season! What better way to celebrate than reading a creepy book and creating your own haunted house using an old dollhouse or a house from a Christmas village?

I started with a cheap dollhouse and painted it black. When it was dry, I used just a tiny bit of white paint to age the house. It’s important not to have much paint on your brush and to keep your touch very light and moving in one direction. This step brings out the details and makes the house look weathered.

Now for the fun part! Personalize your haunted house however you want! Add cobwebs, suspicious stains, or cursed objects.  Clearly, my house has a mold problem, but the creepy ghost twins don’t mind.

We have Haunted House Take and Make kits available beginning October 18th while supplies last.


TeenTober Reviews: Going Old-School with Historical Fiction

Posted on Friday, October 15, 2021 by Stellan Harris

TeenTober LogoHello again dear readers and welcome to the second week of our TeenTober book review series! For the uninformed, the Teen Blog will be highlighting some of the reader reviews that we received during our Teen Summer Reading program this year. This week we’ve decided to highlight some of the reviews we got on titles with a historical setting, whether that’s a story from a real period of history or a fantasy with some real historical details. So sit back, relax, and get ready for some books to take you on a journey through time!

The first review this week comes from Caitlin, who gave a 5-star review to “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah. A novel set in the 1930’s Texas before and during the Dust Bowl, this story follows Elsa Martinelli, a girl born into some means but tormented by her family. Determined to follow her heart and make her own destiny, Elsa embarks on a journey that will put her through all of the struggles and turmoil that the Dust Bowl has to offer, which according to Caitlin includes an 11-day dust storm! Speaking of the book, she said it was, “a great book, it is very moving,” and that you should give this title a look if, “You like books that have tension.” If that sounds like you, then consider reading this title. 

Our next review comes from a reviewer who wished to remain anonymous and wanted to give their perspective on “Stone Fox” by John Reynolds Gardiner. This story is set in the 1880’s in Wyoming, following the childhood of a boy and his dog on a poor farm. Unfortunately, as his family experiences hardship and his home comes under threat, Willy has to bet it all on a dog race that might save his family or end in tragedy. The reviewer spoke highly of the book, giving it a 4 star review and saying they enjoyed the book, “because it had an ending I was not expecting.” The book isn’t particularly long, so if you’re looking for a period piece about a boy and his dog that is, according to our reviewer, “Unexpected, short, sad” then “Stone Fox” might be the next book for you. 

Our last review is from Amelia, who went even further back in time, to the Victorian Era, in order to review “The Vanished Bride” by Bella Ellis. Following a mysterious murder in the English county of Yorkshire, 1845, three sisters and daughters of a local parson decide to apply their skills of observation and investigation to be come “lady detectors” and solve the mysterious case. Coincidentally, these sisters are named, and seemingly modeled, after the Bronte sisters, who are themselves famous poets and novelists of the period. As for the novel itself, Amelia enjoyed it enough to give it a 5-star review, saying, “I loved this book because it was a big mystery…I could write down all the clues,think I have an answer, but then there would be a big twist!” Victorian England, a bloody mystery, and three amateur sleuths modeled after real world authors solving a mystery full of twists and turns? What’s not to love? You can find out by checking out more by checking out “The Vanished Bride” for yourself! 

With that we’ve come to the end of our second week of TeenTober book reviews! Thanks again to all the wonderful teens who participated in Summer Reading this year and gave us permission to post their reviews for you all to see. Tune in next week for more reviews and more books that just might be your next favorite.

Check Out Spooky October Programs @ DBRL!

Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 by Stellan Harris

It is the spookiest season of the year again! We at DBRL are big fans of the pumpkin primed, spirit soaked, ghoul guarded time of year, and we’ve got some events and programs lined up for all of our kindred spirits looking forward to this ghastly season. 

On October 18th the library is hosting an atmospheric walking tour of a Columbia cemetery, where you can learn the history of cemeteries, how funeral practices have changed and evolved over the years, and even some spooky stories and superstitions surrounding the cemetery. This event is subject to the weather, but assuming it’s not raining you can come to the library at 5:30 on October 18th for a spooky introduction to the graves of Columbia! If you can’t make it in person, feel free to watch the recording on our YouTube channel a few days after the program so you don’t miss out on all the graveyard fun. Find more information on the page for the event here.

On the following Monday, October 25th, we have a production for you drenched in horror fit for the season. In an ongoing series of productions, DBRL has partnered with local performance artists to bring you an evening of audio entertainment, this time focused on tales of a haunting or Gothic tone. Performing a number of  classic horror tales, including a number of works from Edgar Allen Poe, the performers will bring you an evening of spine-tingling tales that are sure to put you in the Halloween mood. You can register to receive the Zoom link here, or watch the recording of the performance on our YouTube channel a few days after the program (just in time for Halloween proper!). 

On the very next day, Tuesday, October 26th, the library will be hosting a presentation about the ghost-obsessed period of Missouri history and some of the most interesting and noteworthy figures that followed a belief system focused around mediums, Ouija boards, and making contact with what lies beyond the veil of death: Spiritualism. Presented by the Missouri State museum, this presentation about a uniquely spooky time in American history, and the controversial figures who gained fame and fortune during it, will highlight many of the figures and claims made of reaching into the afterlife and communing with spirits, even of some famous figures of the time. Tune in for a spooky trip into the past and a glimpse into a time when the notion of ghosts and spirits wasn’t always something to laugh about. As always you can register for the Zoom link here, or keep an eye on our YouTube channel for the recording of the program. 

And that’s a roundup of some of the programming fit for this Halloween season being brought to you by DBRL. Hopefully you saw something that piqued your interest, and you join us for one of these supernatural-centric programs. Stay tuned here for more information on all things teen at DBRL, and have a happy, haunted October!

TeenTober Reviews: A Bit of Romance to Start Things Off

Posted on Friday, October 8, 2021 by Stellan Harris

TeenTober Logo

Welcome to the first of our TeenTober review posts dear readers! For those of you not in the know, we’re going to be showcasing some of the titles and reviews we got from the teens who participated in the DBRL Teen Summer Reading Program. Our reviews this week focus on some of our reviewers who chose books of the more romantic variety, something that was far from rare in the reviews we received. What can we say, some of you just love a good romance! 

Our first review comes from Isabella, who gave a 5-star review for “My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. A period romance, with a bit of fantasy thrown in for color, Isabella described the book as “Mystical, Romantic, and Historic” and enjoyed the novel due to a love of “twisted fairytales and a good love tale.” Isabella does warn that there is some questionable language, but that you should definitely check this bok out if “you like history flips with a pinch of magic, and if you love a good love story.” If that sounds like you, then give “My Lady Jane” a look!

Our next review comes to us from a reviewer who wished to remain anonymous, but one who gave a 5-star review to “Anna K: A Love Story” by Jenny Lee. A modern retelling of the Russian literary classic “Anna Karenina”, this novel is, as Grace puts it, “all about love, and who we are as people. While we may present a certain image to the public, there’s always something going on behind the scenes. This book follows the romances of multiple people, and how all their lives are tied together.” Sounds like quite the book! If you’re looking for a book that is “hopeful, a tear jerker, broken yet beautiful” and ready for a book that will, according to Grace, “give you all the feels,” give “Anna K: A Love Story” a shot!

Finally, our last 5-star review from Olivia takes us from the Manhattan skyline to the winding streets of Tuscany in “Love and Gelato” by Jenna Evans Welch. The novel focuses on Lina’s trip to Tuscany, as a last wish from her mother, as she seeks to reunite with her estranged father. Yet, as she discovers a diary kept by her mother when she lived in Italy, the trip becomes something much more for Lina. Jasmine picked up the book after “a friend suggested this book to read and it’s one of the best books I’ve read. It has a great plot and you just can’t put the book down.” So maybe pick up “Love and Gelato” for a book that is, according to Jasmine, “full of love, romance, and mystery” to start your TeenTober off right!


And that’s going to conclude our featured reviews for this first week of TeenTober! Come back next week for another batch of reviews from the teens in our Summer Reading program, and keep your eyes peeled for more TeenTober programs and posts.