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. 

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.

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.

Trending: Dark Academia

Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 by Dana


Dark academia is an aesthetic and book genre that is blowing up, mostly thanks to TikTok.

Dark academia’s look comes mostly from boarding schools and old universities. Think school uniforms, tweed jackets, stone columns, dark wood, dimly lit libraries with old books and drifting dust.

The books that fall into the dark academia trend could have many aspects of this multifaceted genre. They often take place in a school or university and have menacing themes like crime or secret societies. The characters may study classical philosophy, poetry, or literature. Death, existentialism, and mortality are often subjects. They aren’t usually high fantasy, but often involve arcane knowledge and more speculative elements.

Whether this appeals to your blazer-wearing, coffee-drinking self or your dark, dangerous mystery-loving self, check out the list and give one a try!

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 by Stellan Harris

Hispanic Heritage MonthSeptember 15th through October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual celebration of the history and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx communities throughout the history of this country. First introduced as a week-long celebration in 1968, and expanded to a full month in 1989, this celebration of the increasing number of Americans coming from Hispanic and Latino communities was designed to pay tribute to their roles in the history, and future, of this country.

While the date in the middle of September might seem an odd choice, the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with a number of declarations of independence for a number of Central and South American countries. September 15th is the day of celebration for the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua from Spain, while Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16th and Chile does so on the 18th. 

In honor of this month’s celebrations the Smithsonian will be hosting a number of virtual events to highlight notable Hispanic and Latnix figures in both history and modernity. The calendar of events can be found here, as well as links to the events on the same page. More information, including further event calendars and other resources, can be found on the website for the celebration here.

In addition, we at DBRL have collected a list of novels by Hispanic and Latinx authors for interested teens, so take this opportunity to celebrate this occasion with a great novel! The list of novels can be found here, with some of my favorites being: 

  • Cemetery Boys by Adien Thomas: a supernatural romp starring a Latinx trans boy brujo and a bad boy ghost companion out to solve the mystery of how a loved one’s spirit disappeared and what will need to be done to free it.

  • Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas: a story of a Cuban American teen dealing with the fallout of her parents divorce and the loss of her beloved abuela by striving for excellence in a demanding French kitchen.

  • Lobizona by Romina Garber: a novel, taking inspiration from Argentinian folklore, that follows Manu, a girl who lives in a small Miami apartment with her family in constant fear of being discovered by ICE. After a traumatic experience that separates Manu from her family, she discovers that her origins might not be what she thought, and that her place in the world might be more fantastical than she had suspected.

 

The Selector’s Selections: September 2021

Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 by Brianna

Confession time: if it were up to me, I’d probably end up only writing about fantasy books, because I love them so much. BUT I have managed to divide my love into two fantasies, two historical fictions, and two contemporaries. Be proud of my egalitarian blog writing!

Beasts of Prey” by Ayana Gray

I had to start with the fantasy! Utilizing Pan-African mythology, there is some lush world-building in this jungle-set fantasy. Koffi is an indentured servant at the Night Zoo, home to exotic magical creatures, and dreams of earning her freedom. Ekon hopes to join the elite warrior class, as a Son of the Six in their city of Lkossa. When a fire at the Night Zoo alters both their plans, the pair reluctantly team up to pursue the deadly Shetani—a creature that has been preying on Lkossa for nearly a century. While mistrustful at first, each dangerous encounter in the Greater Jungle leads them to rely on each other more and more. As they uncover secrets about the Shetani, they realize the stakes are much higher than just their own personal quests for redemption and freedom.


Continue reading “The Selector’s Selections: September 2021”

Most Popular Books of Summer Reading

Posted on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 by Stellan Harris

We’ve once again come to the end of a wonderful Summer Reading program at the Daniel Boone Regional Library! We’ve gone through the list of teen book reviews that were submitted (over 200 reviews in total!), as well as the titles that moved the most during summer reading to bring you a list of the most popular titles and trends this year. Thanks again to everyone who submitted a review for the great titles you enjoyed!

This summer fantasy was king for many of our readers, exploring far flung locales and mystical places along with valiant heroes and sinister villains. Leigh Bardugo was a favorite of many of our readers, with both her Six of Crows series and The Grisha Trilogy circulating widely among our readers. Sarah J. Maas was another favorite, with her Throne of Glass series and it’s spin-offs having both favorable numbers and favorable reviews from our summer readers. 

For many of our readers who didn’t go the fantasy route, a dystopian setting was their place of choice this summer. Suzanne Collins’ newly released prequel to her Hunger Games trilogy The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was one of our highest circulated titles, with the original novels not being far behind. Authors Neal Shusterman, Kiera Cass, and Joelle Charbonneau were more favorite painters of painful potentials among our readers, so be sure to check them out if that sounds up your alley. 

 

For more book recommendations, be sure to check out our Popular YA Titles of Summer Reading list, composed of some of our top circulating items and some of the highly reviewed summer reading titles. Your new favorite book might just be waiting for you!

Voting Begins for 2021 Teens’ Top Ten

Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 by Stellan Harris

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

Voting has begun for 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.

Only fifteen young adult book clubs from school and public libraries nationwide will come together and share the responsibility of determining a list of nominees for teens to consider. (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.)

Based on the recommendations of these teen book clubs, the list of this year’s nominees was announced in April during National Library Week. Readers ages 12-18 are now invited to vote online through October 15 to narrow this list to the top ten selections.

The winning titles will be announced the week of October 18. Be sure to subscribe to our our email newsletter so you can stay updated!

The Selector’s Selections: August 2021

Posted on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by Brianna

For my picks this month, I thought I’d start light and transition into some darker options. Something for everyone I hope!

Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms” by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise

First up, we’ve got a graphic novel that will be perfect for fans of “Heartstopper” and “Check, Please!” Annie is academically driven, and not interested in interacting with others much. However, when she realizes she needs extracurriculars to round out her college applications, she begrudgingly tries out for the cheerleading team. Bebe is the first transgender cheerleader in her state, and is constantly trying to please others while avoiding the spotlight. The two girls were friends before Bebe’s transition and subsequent popularity, and they slowly begin to rekindle their relationship as friendship evolves into something more. Bebe helps Annie with learning how to trust and be part of a team, and Annie helps Bebe stand up for herself to well-intentioned friends and family. Refreshingly, this graphic novel is about the experience after coming out and transitioning, not about the difficulties of the process itself. Enjoy this graphic novel if you’re in the mood for a sweet, queer romance. Continue reading “The Selector’s Selections: August 2021”

The Selector’s Selections: July 2021

Posted on Friday, July 23, 2021 by Brianna

Hello everyone! The summer stretches gloriously onward, and I’ve got some new books to fill your days. Some of these aren’t out yet, so if you prefer your books digital, make sure you check the catalog again later! I don’t purchase the ebooks or downloadable audiobooks until the book actually releases, but they should appear online for you once it does.

Six Crimson Cranes” by Elizabeth Lim

This folktale may seem familiar, but with a delightful blend of Asian and European traditions, you’ll never be quite sure what will happen next. Princess Shiori possesses magic, which is forbidden in her kingdom. She successfully hides her abilities for years, but in her desperation to escape an unwanted betrothal she slips up and reveals her magical powers to her stepmother. Her stepmother is guarding secrets of her own, and transforms Shiori’s six brothers into cranes, and warns Shiori that for every word she utters, one of her brothers will die. Cast out from her home, Shiori must find a way to rescue her brothers and restore stability to her kingdom. Fair warning, this is a duology, so you’ll have to wait a minute for book two!


Where It All Lands” by Jennie Wexler

Next up I’ve got a romance, with dual alternate timelines, for you. Stevie Rosenstein is used to being the new girl in town, as they’re constantly moving for her dad’s job. She’s used to keeping other people at a distance, and plans to just focus on school and marching band. Drew and Shane have been best friends for years, supporting each other through everything life throws at them. Then Stevie moves to town, and they both immediately have a crush on her. Sounds like a messy love triangle right? Instead, the two boys decide to flip a coin to determine who gets to ask Stevie out, and the book separates into two different timelines following the outcome of the coin toss. The friendships and relationships are all well developed, and the author deftly explores themes of romance, identity, bullying and grief.


The Right Side of Reckless” by Whitney D. Grandison

Guillermo Lozano is fresh out of juvie and determined to make some changes in his life. He definitely was not planning on falling for the daughter of his community service supervisor. Regan London is feeling trapped in her outwardly perfect life, and is struggling to meet everyone’s expectations. When reformed bad boy Guillermo is the only one to truly listen to her, the sparks fly despite their best intentions. This may sound like a cheesy opposites-attract romance, but their relationship is so well-written—absolutely swoonworthy and based on mutual respect.


If You, Then Me” by Yvonne Woon

This next book is more a coming-of-age novel with a touch of romance. Xia loves tech and coding, and has developed her own app that earns her a place at the prestigious Foundry school in Silicon Valley. But when she gets there, she’s facing misogyny and racial discrimination in her classes as well as in the tech industry as a whole. In the midst of navigating a glitzy and toxic culture while pursuing her career dreams, Xia also has to decide between an anonymous boy she met on a programmer forum, and an arrogant but charming boy in her class. This book is perfect for readers intrigued by coding and apps, and explores the challenges facing women in tech, but it’s also written very accessibly for those like me who barely know the difference between Java and HTML.


You & Me at the End of the World” by Brianna Bourne 

Switching to a dystopian romance this time. Hannah has spent the last five days in utter isolation, after waking up one morning to discover her hometown of Houston is deserted. She hasn’t seen another person anywhere, so when she hears guitar music playing, she is relieved to finally encounter another human. Leo has been distressed and confused by the isolation as well, but has been using the time to try out guitars for his ’80s hair metal cover band. While the two had seen each other at school, they never interacted much. Now they’re the only two people left in the city, and start to depend on each other more and more. Leo helps over-achieving ballet dancer Hannah to loosen up, and Hannah helps Leo think about people other than himself. But as they’re falling for each other, things keep getting stranger, from sudden winds and heatwaves to randomly flooding buildings. Between the slow-burn romance and dystopian mystery elements, this is a book you won’t want to put down.


Red Wolf” by Rachel Vincent

Alright, we’re going dark for this last one. Adele lives in a small village surrounded by dangerous woods filled with monsters. Despite that, she’s happy with her life, and looking forward to marrying her betrothed—though her mother has never approved of him. When Adele goes to visit her grandmother in the woods, she’s attacked by a vicious werewolf, and her entire understanding of her life changes. Adele instinctively shape-shifts into a red wolf and slays the white werewolf, awakening to her lineage as a lycanthropic guardian of her village. The problem is that the villagers, including her betrothed, are extremely suspicious of anything supernatural and would sooner see Adele burned at the stake as a witch than accept her help. The other problem is Adele discovers that years ago her mother arranged a marriage for her with a guardian boy from a neighboring village. Now Adele is torn between duty and love as she fights against monsters in both beast and human form. Like the original Grimm fairy tales, this book is full of atmospheric horror and plenty of gore.