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.

2021-2022 Truman Readers Award Finalists

Posted on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 by Stellan Harris

2021-2022 Truman Readers Award Finalists (PDF)

The Truman Readers Award honors a book that is selected by Missouri junior high students. To be eligible to vote, students must read at least four of the finalists. Voting will occur at participating schools early next spring. While the winner won’t be announced until April 2022, this is a great list of summer reads for students in grades sixth through eighth.

“The Line Tender” by Kate Allen
Lucy Everhart is the daughter of a rescue-diver father; her marine biologist mother died suddenly when Lucy was only seven. She is spending the summer before eighth grade with her best friend, Fred, when locals and experts alike are shocked by a dead great white shark washing up in their small coastal town.

“Verify” by Joelle Charbonneau
When Meri Beckley looks at the peaceful Chicago streets, she feels pride in the era of unprecedented hope and prosperity. But when her mother is killed, Meri suddenly has questions that no one else seems to be asking.

“The Crossover (Graphic Novel)” by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
Twin brothers Josh and Jordan, sons of a basketball legend, rule the court, especially when they cooperate. But when the two find themselves growing further apart, as hormones increase and a girl enters the picture, life on and off the court falls into chaos.

“The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise” by Dan Gemeinhart
For the past five years, 12-year-old Coyote Sunrise and her father, Rodeo, have traveled all over the U.S. Once upon a time, they lived in Washington state, but when her mother and two sisters died in an automobile accident her father, changed their names and took off, determined to put painful memories behind them.

“The Unteachables” by Gordon Korman
Teacher Zachary Kermit has been haunted by scandal for the last 27 years . So when he is assigned a class of students with behavior issues and learning difficulties, he is unfazed, only a year away from retirement. But when Mr. Kermit unexpectedly stands up for one of his students, the kids notice.

“It’s the End of the World as I Know It” by Matthew Landis
Ever since his mother was killed in the line of duty in Iraq, Derrick has been convinced that the apocalypse is coming. When his next-door neighbor, Misty, reappears after a long bout with a rare kidney disease, confusion settles in like a low-grade fever.

“The Bone Houses” by Emily Lloyd-Jones 
Ever since the dead have started coming back to life, gravedigger Ryn has been out of work. Desperate to clear her family’s debts to a greedy landlord, Ryn connects with Ellis, a lost mapmaker, who will pay her to guide him into the mountains.

“Free Lunch” by Rex Ogle
Recounting his childhood experiences in sixth grade, Rex Ogle’s memoir chronicles the punishing consequences of poverty and violence on himself and his family.

“Right as Rain” by Lindsey Stoddard  
Following the death of her brother, 10-year-old Rain and her family leave Vermont for New York City. Rain struggles to adjust to life in a big city, but eventually bonds with her new neighbor.

“Tiger Queen” by Annie Sullivan  
Sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri’s desert kingdom is suffering from a drought, and the king is having to ration their water, which is also being stolen by a rebel gang. Kateri longs to help her people, but first she must fight through the arena and prove her right to rule.

“Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga 
Sent to live with a relative in Cincinnati after civil war comes to Syria, Jude worries for the family members who were left behind as she adjusts to a new life.

“Genesis Begins Again” by Alicia D. Williams 
Thirteen-year-old Genesis has a turbulent home life, and when her father moves their Black family to an upscale, mostly-white suburb, she has to find her footing in a new environment.

2021-2022 Gateway Award Finalists

Posted on Friday, July 9, 2021 by Stellan Harris

2021-22 Gateway Award Finalists (PDF)

The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult novel that is selected by Missouri high school students. To be eligible to vote, students must read at least three of the finalists. Voting will occur at participating schools early next March, so you can use the summer months to get a head start on this list! The winner will be announced in April 2022.

“With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo
As both a senior in high school and a mother, Emoni must balance her schoolwork and family with her culinary aspirations.

“Internment” by Samira Ahmed
Muslim citizens, including Layla and her parents, are forced into internment camps. Layla, with the help of fellow internees and an unlikely alliance with a guard, leads a resistance movement.

“The Lovely and the Lost” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
When a little girl is lost in a park, a family of search-and-rescue professionals reunites and generations of secrets are uncovered.

“I Know You Remember” by Jennifer Donaldson
After moving back to Anchorage and discovering the mysterious disappearance of her best friend, high school senior Ruthie embarks on a search that reveals dark secrets.

“The Speed of Falling Objects” by Nancy Richardson Fischer
When Danny’s dad invites her to join him to film the next episode of his popular survivalist show, Danny jumps at the chance to prove she’s not the disappointment he left behind.

“Ordinary Hazards” by Nikki Grimes
Growing up with a mother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and a mostly absent father, Nikki Grimes found herself terrorized by babysitters and shunted from foster family to foster family.

“The Grace Year” by Kim Liggett
At the age of 16, Tierney James and the other girls in her society must endure a dangerous year in the wild, struggling to survive, before they can return home to marry or perform menial labor.

“Heroine” by Mindy McGinnis
When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to keep her spot as the catcher for the team.

“SLAY” by Brittney Morris
An honors student at Jefferson Academy, Keira enjoys developing and playing SLAY, a secret, multiplayer online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until her two worlds collide.

“Fireborne” by Rosaria Munda
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world. Now they are both rising stars and rivals in the new Regime.

“Where I End & You Begin” by Preston Norton
As a punishment, Ezra, his crush Imogen, his best friend and Imogen’s best friend Wynonna must all perform in the school play. Just before the first rehearsal starts, Ezra and Wynonna wake up in each other’s bodies!

“The Field Guide to the North American Teenager” by Ben Philippe
As the new kid, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks and the Loners. But those labels soon become actual people.

“Patron Saints of Nothing” by Randy Ribay
Jay Reguero learns that his cousin, and former best friend, was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs. Jay travels to the Philippines, hoping to uncover more about the murder, and is forced to face a larger truth.

“Field Notes on Love” by Jennifer E. Smith
Two teens, Hugo and Mae, are strangers until they share a cross-country train trip that teaches them about love, each other and the futures they can build for themselves.

“The Escape of Light” by Fred Venturini
Teenage burn survivor Wilder Tate faces the challenges of high school, but Wilder’s scars run far deeper than just physical damage: he’s haunted by a secret.

The Selector’s Selections: June 2021

Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2021 by Brianna

Summer is great, but this weather has been so hot that I honestly just want to sit inside in the air conditioning and read. If you’re like me, here’s some delightful books to try as you avoid the heat and humidity!

The Darkness Outside Us” by Eliot Schrefer

So science-fiction and fantasy tend to get lumped together as genres, but this book is a straight sci-fi. Ambrose and Kodiak are two teenagers who wake up on a ship headed to Saturn’s moon Titan for a rescue mission. The problem is that neither has any memory of how he got there, and the two of them are from countries that are at war with each other. Warily, they join forces as they attempt to discover what the ship’s controlling and suspicious AI isn’t telling them, and slowly they begin to fall in love. Part mystery, part romance, this space opera is intricately plotted and perfect for Pride Month. Continue reading “The Selector’s Selections: June 2021”

The Selector’s Selections: May 2021

Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2021 by Brianna

We may still be a month away from real summer, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to break out the delightful summer reads. You made it through the school year, now turn your brain off for a bit and enjoy some books for fun! If you don’t want to turn your brain all the way off, I understand—I’ve got a very important literary fiction book at the end, just for you.

Tokyo Ever After” by Emiko Jean

First up, we’ve got a delightful cross between “Princess Diaries” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” Japanese-American Izumi lives with her single mom in a small town in Northern California, and she’s used to feeling like an outsider as one of only three Asian girls in her community. While she loves her life, she’s always wondered about her father—a man her mother refuses to discuss, beyond saying he was a one-night stand in college. When Izumi accidentally discovers his name, she and her friends do a little digging and learn that he is the Crown Prince of Japan. Before she knows what’s happening, Izumi is invited to spend her summer in Tokyo with him. Continue reading “The Selector’s Selections: May 2021”

2020 Gateway & Truman Award Winners

Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 by Brandy

The winners for the Gateway and Truman Readers Awards have been announced! These awards honors the best-loved books among Missouri high school and junior high students. To be eligible to vote, students must read 3-4 of the finalists.  This year, hundreds of votes were cast by students in grades 6-12.

Truman Readers Award

1st Place: “Not If I Save You First” by Ally Carter
Six years ago Maddie lived in Washington D.C. with her father, a Secret Service agent assigned to the President’s family, and her best friend was Logan, the President’s son; but after her father was wounded in an attempted kidnapping the two of them moved to a remote cabin in Alaska and Logan never replied to her letters. But now he has suddenly turned up on her doorstep she has to save him from the winter wilderness and the men who are pursuing him.

Continue reading “2020 Gateway & Truman Award Winners”

The Selector’s Selections: April 2021

Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by Brianna

I’ve got a nice mix of things this month! We’ll start with some supernatural, horror and fantasy, and move into a Western and a contemporary. Enjoy!

The Cost of Knowing” by Brittney Morris

Alex can see the future. When he touches objects or people, he sees what will happen days, weeks or even years in its future. Though it may seem like a blessing, Alex knows it’s a curse—especially when he sees the death of his little brother Isaiah. He’s never been able to change a vision before, but Alex will do whatever it takes to change this one. Being Black in their affluent Chicago suburb presents enough challenges and dangers on its own, and then Alex discovers that he’s not Continue reading “The Selector’s Selections: April 2021”

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage

Posted on Friday, April 16, 2021 by Maria

May is just around the corner and so is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. To celebrate, I have a curated list of books written by Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) authors, about AAPI stories, for everyone to enjoy.


The Astonishing Color of After” by Emily X. R. Pan
After her mother’s suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Chen Sanders travels to Taiwan for the first time to stay with grandparents she has never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.

Frankly in Love” by David Yoon
High school seniors Frank Li and Joy Song pretend to date each other in order to please their Korean parents which gives them the freedom to date other (non-Korean) people. Continue reading “Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage”

YA Author Panel: Changing Landscapes in YA Fiction

Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 by Brandy

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Unbound Book Festival is entirely online. Unbound is hosting a variety of weekly author panels, poetry readings and writing workshops through April. Review their full schedule for more details.

Next Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m., Unbound will host “Changing Landscapes in YA Fiction” with authors Anuradha Rajurkar, Brie Spangler and Louisa Onomé. Tune in on Facebook or YouTube as these acclaimed YA authors discuss challenges of writing for the next generation of readers.

Anuradha Rajurkar is the author of the newly released young adult novel, “American Betiya.’ In this book, a young artist grapples with first love, family boundaries and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Rajurkar is the national recipient of the SCBWI Emerging Voices Award for this debut work. Check out the excerpt! Continue reading “YA Author Panel: Changing Landscapes in YA Fiction”

The Selector’s Selections: March 2021

Posted on Thursday, March 11, 2021 by Brianna

It’s spring! Let’s welcome it in with some fantastic new books.

Lost in the Never Woods” by Aiden Thomas

If you loved the author’s “Cemetery Boys” from last year, get excited for their version of Peter Pan! Five years ago, Wendy Darling was found wandering in the woods, with no memory of the past six months, and no idea where her two younger brothers were. Wendy’s worked hard to deal with the trauma and grief of losing her brothers, and she’s ready to start nursing school and finally move on with her life. But then children start disappearing again, and a boy named Peter begs for her help. Wendy is drawn back into the half-remembered world of her childhood, and amid shadowy secrets, must face the truth about her past. Continue reading “The Selector’s Selections: March 2021”