Enjoy These Irish YA Titles This St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2022 by Stellan Harris

Rural Irish Scene

Happy St. Patrick’s day! While our weather might only just be warming up, and the green on our clothes still outnumber the green on the trees, it is once again that day to hold your shamrock’s close and wish for a bit of luck. With the popularity of titles featuring the Faerie folk, who are a product of Ireland depending on which piece of mythology the author draws inspiration from, the influence of Irish myth on modern fantasy writing has arguably never been higher. That isn’t even taking into account the immense natural beauty and unique culture that Ireland boasts as a backdrop for a novel of any genre. Ireland is a fascinating country with a long and storied literary tradition of its own, so in honor of the holiday we’ve collected a list of YA titles that help celebrate Irish authors and stories set in Ireland. You can check out the list of books here, and we hope that you all have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day.  As the Irish proverb goes, may luck be your friend in all that you do, and may trouble be always a stranger to you!

The Selector’s Selections: March 2022

Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 by Brianna

I’m back y’all! After a maternity leave immersed in board books and picture books, I’m excited to talk about some new YA titles! I must admit, the titles this month are all things on my TBR…so historical fiction or fantasy. I promise to be more well-rounded for next month’s blog!

One for All” by Lillie Lainoff

I was looking forward to this book even before I saw it was recommended by my favorite author! This historical fiction is a gender-bent take on “The Three Musketeers.” Tania de Batz’s father, a former Musketeer, trained her to love fencing, despite her disability. With her blood circulation disorder (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) causing frequent dizzy spells, she’s a bit of an outcast in her small town. When Papa is suddenly killed, it’s his dying wish that Tania attend L’Académie des Mariées, a finishing school in Paris. Confused and grieving, Tania discovers that L’Académie actually trains young women in espionage and swordplay, to be a new kind of Musketeer. When Tania begins to fall for her first target, her Musketeer sisters support and keep her focused on finding her father’s killer. I already love a good gender-bent classic, and the fact that this book centers the experience of a girl with a disability so genuinely is beyond refreshing. An author’s note gives more information about POTS, and her own experience with it.

Castles in Their Bones” by Laura Sebastian   

For more espionage and romance, I’ve got this political fantasy for you. Daphne, Sophronia and Beatriz are triplets, daughters of Empress Margaraux, and have been trained from birth for one thing: to marry into neighboring kingdoms and take them down from within. Each sister is skilled in message-coding, poisons, seduction and court politics, and is prepared to wreak havoc in their new homes so their mother can sweep in and take over. Of course, once they begin to settle in, things no longer seem so simple or straight-forward. Romance, secrets, magic, and duplicitous princesses? There’s a lot to love in this one. Heads up, it’s first in a trilogy, so you’ll have to be patient for the next book!

Bright Ruined Things” by Samantha Cohoe

This historical fantasy is set in the 1920s, and is loosely based on “The Tempest.” Mae, orphaned daughter of the steward, has spent her whole life on the magical island of the Prosper family. Permitted to continue living there after her father died, Mae longingly dreams of training with the magic the Prospers control. Their magic is tied to the island’s captive spirits, and when Mae discovers a dying spirit she begins to investigate what—or who—is causing the spirits to die. The entire book takes place over one day and a night, the annual party called First Night, that commemorates Lord Prosper first harnessing magic. The mystery weaves through a gilded, opulent and treacherous setting, as Mae learns the cost of the life she dreams of.

The Book of Living Secrets” by Madeleine Roux 

Adelle and Connie are best friends, and love obsessing about “Moira,” a little-known period romance novel set in 1885 Boston. They know the book inside and out, and daydream about their book crushes—Adelle on the handsome Severin, and closeted Connie on the title character Moira. When a mysterious shopkeeper offers to send them into the book, they’re skeptical but agree. Landing in different points of the story line, Connie and Adelle try to find each other and make it back home. The problem is that they keep encountering things that weren’t in the book, as supernatural horrors wait in the shadows and people began to inexplicably walk into the sea. I think we’ve all wished at some point we could be transported into a favorite book, so this is some major wish fulfillment with delightful worldbuilding and character development. I’m definitely going to be picturing Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek the whole time though.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh 

 This is a take on a Korean folktale. Every year, Mina’s village sacrifices a maiden to the Sea God, hoping to appease him so there will be no more natural disasters. Mina’s brother is determined to save his love, this year’s sacrifice, and prepares to fight the Sea God’s dragon servant. To spare her brother pain, Mina jumps into the sea instead, and is whisked away to the Spirit Realm. Mina finds herself tied to the apparently cursed Sea God, and severed from her voice and soul. She must navigate the dangers of the Spirit Realm and find a way to wake the Sea God and restore balance between humans and the gods. Intricately detailed and atmospheric, this folktale interpretation will satisfy fantasy lovers with its courageous heroine.

A Thousand Steps Into Night” by Traci Chee

For our last book, we’re hopping over to a Japanese inspired fantasy. Miuko is an innkeeper’s daughter, plain, loud, clumsy and utterly ordinary. Until an encounter with a demon, who curses her to slowly turn into a demon herself. In a land where humans, demons and gods exist alongside each other, Miuko is still rejected by her village and left on her own to seek a cure. She makes unexpected friends along the way, including a shape-shifting trickster spirit, and sees her society and all its issues from an outside perspective as she travels. The true question becomes not whether she will find a cure, but if she will be willing to give up the power and freedom she’s found. The author wanted this to read like a “found” book (think Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”), so it’s filled with fascinating footnotes that provide in-world historical context and pronunciation help for the Japanese inspired language. Come for the immersive worldbuilding, stay for the fierce feminism.

And because I can’t resist, here’s my little bibliophile! He loves turning the pages by himself.


Close Out Black History Month With These Black Graphic Novels!

Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by Stellan Harris

Black History Month is drawing to a close, and we’ve featured a number of great titles this month that showcase Black stories that you might not have heard before. For our last post this month, we thought it would be nice to highlight Black creators who are making interesting and unique stories through the mediums of comics and graphic novels. We curated a list of comics and graphic novels by Black creators that, to contrast with our previous list that specifically aimed to tell some aspects of Black history and experience, to focus on stories of all varieties told by Black creators. Sometimes it can be tempting to think that the only stories by Black voices that get told are those of pain and struggle, so we wanted to showcase some stories that break that mold a bit. You can find the list of comics here, and we hope that you can find an amazing creator to follow into the future!

Your Ticket to a Love Trope

Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2022 by Dana

Every genre has its tropes, or a commonly used theme or device. Fantasy has the “chosen one” or “lost royalty” and horror/thrillers has the “haunted house” and the “final girl” trope.  Part of why tropes are used so routinely is that there is comfort in know how the story will probably play out, especially in romance.  But then, we also enjoy it when a predictable formula gets turned on its head.

Angst – Whether they are star-crossed or hit by some other tragedy, happily ever after may not be possible.

Why We Love It:  Sometimes, you just want to be in your feelings.

Give It a Try:  They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera


 Enemies to Lovers – Two characters meet and start off hating each other’s guts, usually because of a misunderstanding or opposing views, but they realize their feelings for each other.

Why We Love It:  The tension, the verbal spats, and the opportunity for great chemistry.

Give It a Try:  This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada


Fake Dating – Maybe it was a one time thing or an on going ruse, but eventually the charade becomes real.

Why We Love It:  The fun of watching two characters realize they’ve caught feelings and the plan is falling apart.

Give It a Try: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar


Friends to Lovers – They’ve known each other for a while and even though they used to see each other as just friends, now things are heating up.

Why We Love It: We get to see two characters love each other as friends first, without a physical relationship getting in the way.

Give It a Try:  Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli


Love Triangle – Three characters are competing for each other’s love, and only two will pair off.

Why We Love It:  We enjoy picking a side and rooting for our favorite ‘ship.

Give It a Try:  Odd One Out by Nic Stone


Meet Cute – The characters meet in a particularly memorable way.

Why We Love It:  Instant chemistry from a scenario that introduces us to our characters quickly.

Give It a Try: Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu


Stuck Together – Two people get snowed in together, assigned as project partners, or stranded on a desert island.  Spending time together creates the perfect opportunity for feelings to develop.

Why We Love It:  Who doesn’t love it when fate seems to force an unlikely but loveable couple together?

Give It a Try:  Crimson Bound by Rosamond Hodge

In the mood for a little more love?  Browse more titles here or check out the Teen Display at the Columbia Public Library!


Celebrate Black History Month With Books on Black Experiences

Posted on Tuesday, February 1, 2022 by Stellan Harris

Happy Black History Month! This month is dedicated to celebrating all of the accomplishments and struggles that Black Americans have gone through over the years, and continue to go through to this very day. The last few years have been particularly eye-opening for many people, as the extent of racism was put on full display with the numerous high profile deaths of many Black people at the hands of police. Taking this month to reflect and learn more about these issues is a great idea! We’ve gathered a list of books from various authors about aspects of the Black struggle, both historically and today, as well as titles that give advice and perspectives on how to help advocate for anti-racist practices in your life.

You can find the list of titles here, and we hope that February is full of insight, learning and wonderful experiences!

Black Protesters

Start Off the New Year With a New Hobby!

Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 by Stellan Harris

paint brushes with paint on themJanuary has almost come to a close, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start the new year off by taking your life in a new direction. The start of the year is the traditional time for making life changes, thought most of us aren’t always able to keep to these resolutions for the whole year, but you don’t have to commit to making massive life changes to shake up the coming year. Meet new people, try new music or foods, or even take up a hobby that you haven’t tried before (or even one you might have tried and fell off of for some reason!) We here at DBRL have come up with a list of some books covering a couple potential hobbies that you could look into for the new year, from hiking the great outdoors to taking up sewing, from gaining some skills in the kitchen to exploring boxing for fitness. You can find the list, both the fiction and non-fiction titles, at the link here. Don’t see something that interests you on that list? No problem! DBRL has plenty of other resources to check out. Want to learn a language or brush up on some skills? Check out Mango Languages for a free platform to learn a new language. Want to get into some more general crafting? Creativebug has video tutorials for a variety of projects. Is your family thinking about taking some trips in the coming year? Global Road Warrior has maps aimed specifically at travelers and students to help chart out your course. So start this year off with an exciting new direction!

Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement!

Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2022 by Stellan Harris

Monday of this week was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and a day set aside to reflect on the sacrifices made by generations past in the fight for freedom and equality in this country. The past few years have shown us, if nothing else, that the journey toward a society where a man can be judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin is far from over. We still live in a society whose motivating force, Capitalism, as Dr. King said, was “built upon the exploitation of black slaves, and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, black and white, both here and abroad.” The road to true change, as Dr. King seemed to envision it, is a long road that we walk to this day. We at DBRL have collected a few books related to Dr. King and some of his contemporaries, and we encourage you to spend some time looking into this critical, and relevant, period of our nation’s history. You can find the book list here.

Snowy Novels for a Warm Winter

Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 by Stellan Harris

I don’t know about you folks, but I am getting a bit tired of the mild, warm days that we’ve had this December. For all the problems it can cause, I miss when December brought us more than a day or two of snow. It could be the nostalgia of a childhood snow day, the crisp feel of cold air, the muffled silence that accompanies a good snow shower, or the way sun shines off newly fallen snow, but whatever it is I cannot deny that there’s something magical about a December snow. In the absence of real snow (for now, fingers crossed!), we’ve put together a list of books that are set among the ice and snow, hopefully enough to put you into a winter mood. Some are holiday novels, some are simply stories set in scenes swaddled in snow, but all of these titles are sure to make it just a little bit easier to pretend that it isn’t 70 degrees outside. You can find the full list of titles here, and we hope that you can find a novel to put you into a snowman building, frosty window gazing, cocoa drinking frame of mind.

Enjoy the Hanukkah Season With a YA Novel

Posted on Monday, December 6, 2021 by Stellan Harris

Hanukkah Oil CandlesToday marks the last night of the Hanukkah celebration, and here at DBRL we thought it appropriate to celebrate the season by highlighting some novels in our collection that feature protagonists of Jewish heritage. These novels span a variety of genres, from romance to humor, fantasy to sci-fi, and all feature characters who might very well be celebrating the holiday tonight. You can find the full book list here. We hope that all of our Jewish patrons have had a wonderful Hanukkah and that all of our patrons continue to have a wonderful holiday season.

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!”