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.

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 this November. 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.

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”