4th of July Picks: Books, Movies & More!

Happy (almost) 4th of July! Many of us enjoyed some early Independence Day celebrations last weekend, but the holiday isn’t over yet! In fact, with the 4th falling midweek, it seems like the perfect opportunity to stretch the festivities through another weekend. So if you’re in the mood for something patriotic this week—or something that just screams 4th of July celebrations—we have a few suggestions!

Beth’s Pick


READ/LISTEN TO Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King
View in catalog
Get e-book on Kentucky Libraries Unbound

Alden and his mother are newly rich thanks to an insurance policy and a scratch-off lottery ticket, but their neighbors, the Massimo family, are RICH rich. What begins as a friendly fireworks competition between the two lake house neighbors (known in the county as “The 4th of July Arms Race”) ends in disaster. Skillfully read, this 2 disc story is a great 4th of July read!
Beth is the Assistant Branch Manager at Lebanon Junction Branch Library. In addition to managing staff and coordinating displays at Lebanon Junction, she is also a frequent Staff Picks contributor.



Brandy’s Picks

WATCH Captain America: The First Avenger
There is nothing more patriotic than Captain America himself. For this holiday season, if you can’t get a Captain America movie marathon in, at the very least grab a copy of Captain America The First Avenger. A tale of a man who would do anything to serve his country in World War II, so it is an amazing story perfect for the 4th! Plus Chris Evans… do I need to say more?

LISTEN TO Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording
If music is more your thing, grab yourself a copy of Hamilton, or better yet download it from Hoopla so you can take it out with you while you watch fireworks. It took awhile to convince me that rap about one of our country’s founding fathers could be something I wouldn’t die of boredom listening too, but it is legit! After the first couple of songs, you literally can’t walk away! There is a reason this is a phenomenon. Amazing songs, talented singers, and a story you wonder how it can be based on reality. Don’t throw away your shot—yes the pun is intended—to jam to Hamilton this 4th of July.
Brandy T. is a Children’s Programming & Outreach Specialist. Beginning in August, her primary location will be Hillview Branch Library although she will also be organizing new monthly events like Wonder On and Homeschool Connect for multiple locations.

Gayle’s Pick

WATCH Independence Day


Of course we all know that the 4th of July comes once a year. In the midst of the noise that accompanies it, this film makes an even louder statement! While obviously tongue-in-cheek from beginning to end, it reminds us of the value of a united people and the sacrifices that many have made since the idea of a United States of America first began. Whoever the enemy, be it a country or beings from outer space, Independence Day will revive pride in being a ‘merican! A perfect movie for this time of year!
Gayle is a Teen and Adult Programming and Outreach Specialist. Although she plans programs for multiple BCPL locations, you’ll see her most often at our Lebanon Junction and Mt. Washington branches, where she offers monthly events like Brown Bag Book Club and Wii Bowling.

Heather’s Pick

READ/LISTEN TO America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins
Get e-audiobook on Kentucky Libraries Unbound

A beautifully written and incredibly well-researched book that explores the funny and courageous women who built the history of our nation. I laughed and cried through the entire book, and when I finally closed it, I felt so proud to be a descendant of these incredible historical figures. This book is a must-read for every young woman searching for the bravery and independence of womanhood in America.

Heather is an Administrative Assistant with BCPL’s Public Relations team. Responsibilities include graphic design, content creation, and proofreading.



Jenn’s Pick

WATCH Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
View in catalog

I love this documentary because it reminds me of the impact that just one person can have for good, when you choose to speak your mind. Celebrate your freedom of speech this Independence Day!
Jennifer Nippert is BCPL’s Assistant Director. Among other tasks, she oversees staff development and works with the Library Director and Board of Trustees to develop and implement strategic planning initiatives.



Marianne’s Pick
READ/LISTEN TO What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
No matter what you think about the current political climate, Mr. Rather’s observations of our nation’s history are bound to remind you that we are capable of more when we are united instead of divided.

Marianne is part of our reference team at Ridgway Memorial Library. Responsibilities include teaching one-on-one computer classes, providing reader advisory services, and helping patrons with research and technology questions. She’s also the Library’s go-to person for genealogy research!

Tracy’s Picks
WATCH Turn: Washington’s Spies
View in catalog
What better time to begin a series about Revolutionary War spies than the week of July 4th? Based on the true story of the Culper spy ring—and featuring “cameos” from the likes of George Washington and Benedict Arnold—Turn is an absolute treasure for American history buffs. And there’s plenty of danger and intrigue to keep the rest of us interested too! The series starts off just a little slow as we first get to know the characters and the various forces at play, but with its unlikely cabbage-farmer hero, complex situations, and life-and-death secrets, the storyline quickly becomes riveting. I love that the history isn’t dumbed down, that the Redcoats aren’t all automatically mustache-twirling villains, and that the characters’ choices are often conflicted. Plus, the acting and cinematography are superb.
READ Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus
This is a great one to ooh and aah over with the kiddos! As usual, Kadir Nelson’s artwork is glorious and brimming with emotion. The illustrations work seamlessly with Naberhaus’s deceptively spare prose to paint a hopeful and diverse portrait of America, using the flag to represent iconic images of its people, landscapes, and ideals. Be sure not to skip the Author Notes in the back!
READ The Founding Fathers!: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter
This book for kids ages 5–8 is totally awesome for adults, too! If you’ve ever wanted to read a HILARIOUS, tell-it-like-it-is one-page snapshot of each of the founding fathers, this is the book for you. If that’s not something you ever cared to think about, trust me—give this a try anyway. And the kids will enjoy learning about this “bunch of guys with stomach issues and wooden legs and problematic personalities” too. 
WATCH Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
This Jimmy Stewart classic about an idealistic young senator who refuses to back down against political corruption never fails to restore my faith in democracy.
Tracy Weikel is BCPL’s Public Relations Coordinator. Responsibilities include coordinating BCPL’s print and digital marketing tools—including signage, the library website, The Library Bulletin, and social media—as well as developing special initiatives such as Show Your Library Card and Save, Fine Forgiveness Month, and National Library Week celebrations.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2017: Our Favorite Nonfiction for Adults

The books considered for our 2017 nonfiction list ran the gamut—from intensely personal memoirs to true crime investigations, travelogues, ethnographic studies, historical biographies, science texts, and even cookbooks. But even in examining all of those topics, nonfiction is an extensive and wide-ranging category to cover. For example, it’s difficult to directly compare the merits of Electric Arches, Eve L. Ewing’s mixed-media, poetic collection, with Samin Nostrat’s beautiful and lively cooking guide Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, in which the recipes are almost secondary.

Neither of those books made the final cut, but trust me—both are worth looking into. In the end, we went with our gut, choosing the books that each of us most enjoyed and appreciated. I think you’ll find a bit of bias in the results—apparently, we really love memoirs!—but there is still a bit of variety in the final list for you to explore, to learn, and to enjoy.

(Also… in the interest of full disclosure, no one ever got around to reading that massive biography of Ulysses S. Grant. I’m still #32 on KLU’s e-audiobook waitlist!)

The 2017 committee includes:

  • Anna, Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington Branch Library
  • Brandy F., Reference Services, Lebanon Junction Branch Library
  • Heather, BCPL Public Relations Administrative Assistant
  • Marianne, Reference Services, Ridgway Memorial Library
  • Tanya, Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington Branch Library
  • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer
Alligator Candy by David Kushner
Marianne says:
An unforgettable memoir about a family’s ultimate tragedy and their struggle to recover and carry on.
American Eclipse by David Baron
Marianne says:
I listened to this book in the week before the August 2017 eclipse and so really felt like I understood the excitement that the 1878 eclipse must have generated. It’s an interesting and informative book about science, discovery, and invention.
American Fire by Monica Hesse
Tanya says:
I enjoy reading true crime, if it’s well written, and this one definitely is. It covers all details, from beginning to end, and doesn’t miss a beat. I think true crime readers will enjoy this one.
Tracy says:
This is a solid true-crime read with a little extra. The author did a masterful job putting this bizarre occurrence into thought-provoking economic and historical contexts.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Heather says:
This short, quickly moving book packs a wild punch. Mind-blowing nuggets of information given in such a way non-scientists can understand. Not to mention, Neil deGrasse Tyson himself narrates the audiobook, and his voice is like warm molasses!
Tracy says:
This gem of a book provides a clear and fascinating overview of the subject. I might have to listen to the audio again or pick up the book to fully grasp a few of the concepts—but the book is so short and accessible, I wouldn’t mind that a bit. I loved the author’s occasional shamelessly dorky asides.
Heather says:
This captivating memoir could not have been told in a more beautiful way than the graphic novel format. A raw and emotional monologue on identity and heritage.
Tracy says:
 Emotionally and visually evocative. 
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
Anna says:
I really enjoyed reading this.  It provided a broad understanding of basic civil rights issues that were going on during the 1950s and 60s in the black community. 
Tracy says:
Tyson does a clear-eyed, thorough, and thought-provoking job covering a seminal case in civil rights history, painting a vivid picture of the era’s social landscape and explaining why the event is still so very relevant today. 
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs
Brandy says:
I LOVED The Bright Hour. It’s honest and thought-provoking, lyrical and touching. Heart wrenching even. It will make you laugh and make you cry. Loved every moment.
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesenvich
Tanya says:
Very compelling read. It’s almost like reading a work of fiction, but knowing it’s not just amazed me. 
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
Anna says:
 This book is in my top three for 2017.
Heather says:
A macabre but beautiful exploration of what it means to live and die in cultures around the world. Extremely well-written and entertaining. I fought sleep to stay up and read it!
Tracy says:
Stunning, honest, and brave. Roxane Gay is a superb talent, and I was by turns heartbroken, inspired, and awed by every word she wrote. Her story is both universal and achingly personal.
Anna says:
A well-written combination of history and memoir, told from multiple voices.
Marianne says:
Another heart-wrenching and mind-boggling history lesson about the incredible injustice dealt to the Osage American Indians by our government.
Tracy says:
I can’t stop thinking about and talking about this book. It’s an eye-opening look at a hidden subculture of America that is far more prevalent that we might think, based on the encounters of a journalist who embedded herself within the secret tribe of van dwellers and nomads on and off over a period of more than three years. The book does much to challenge our perceptions of “homelessness” and “houselessness,” and the various “characters” and situations Bruder introduces are completely engrossing. I finished the audiobook—about 10 hours in length—in two days, listening to it on my commute, at work, while cooking dinner, and any other time I was able to squeeze it in to my day.
Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Marianne says:
This is a fascinating and astounding history lesson about life in the early 1900s for some young women who were “lucky” enough to land a lucrative job painting clock faces. You can’t make this stuff up!
Tracy says:
This is a well researched, fascinating story that deserves telling. 
Anna says:
Really well-written and fascinating story. I highly recommend.
Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar
Anna says:
Extremely well-written and an excellent perspective on female military service.
Heather says:
 This absolutely incredible memoir is one of my favorite books of 2017. MJ’s strong, she’s smart, she’s funny, she’s flawed, and she’s brilliant. She’s every repressed woman reaching for a man’s dream and doing it with amazing finesse. I read this book covered in goose bumps.
Traveling with Ghosts by Shannon Leone Fowler
Heather says:
A lovely, rambling monologue on love, life, tragedy, and the healing power of immersing yourself in the world after grief has changed you.
Tanya says:
What an emotional journey this takes you on. It’s not just a book, but a life story, so much love and heartbreak and healing in what seemed like not enough time. A very powerful read. 
Tracy says:
A hypnotic blend of poetry and prose that provides a raw, searing portrait of grief, a complicated childhood, and—as can be expected from Alexie—the realities of life as a modern American Indian.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2017: Our Favorite Fiction for Adults

This past year, our committee has traveled from magical lands in the Middle East and medieval Russia to the haunted landscape of modern America. We’ve journeyed across time and space and continents, reading stories that are stunning in their eye-opening realism and others that have taken us on a fantastical adventure. We read many magnificent books that didn’t make the cut, including thrillers that left us reeling (Tanya loved Fiona Barton’s The Child, for example) and the ambitious offerings of literary heavyweights like Jennifer Egan, Paul Auster, and George Saunders.

In the end, though, these are the books that have most stuck with us, the ones that entertained us, taught us, and inspired us. We hope you love them as much as we did!

The 2017 committee includes:

  • Beth, Assistant Branch Manager, Lebanon Junction Branch Library
  • Donna, Circulation Clerk, Ridgway Memorial Library
  • Heather, BCPL Public Relations Administrative Assistant
  • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
  • Tanya, Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington Branch Library
  • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer
  • Trish, Reference Clerk, Mt. Washington Branch Library
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai 
Heather says:
This sci-fi novel is overflowing with personality. Insanely smart and intelligently written, Mastai has created art with words in a distant utopia, and given us a character that is endearing, funny, and a complete idiot. Loved every page of this one.
Tracy says:
Unless you count YA dystopia, sci-fi is SO not to my usual taste. But I adored this breezy, smartly written time travel caper with its bungling, strangely charming anti-hero. Mastai takes a concept that could’ve easily become trite or stale and breathes magnificent life into it. Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.

Donna says:
I did not think I would like this book, as it has a fantasy sticker on it, but I absolutely love it.  (Fantasy is not my usual style.)  It is set in medieval Russia.  This author made me believe the gods and demons are real in this timeframe.  I love Katherine Arden’s  fresh style of writing. I almost could not put it down.
Heather says:
Beautifully written and darkly enchanting, this is a must-read for all lovers of fantasy and fairy tales. I was hooked from page one. It breathes a breath of fresh air on a genre that (usually) relies heavily on Germanic folklore by bringing to life little-known Russian fairy tales in an epic that keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you breathless.

The City of Brass by S.A.Chakraborty
Tracy says:

A spellbinding, addictive fantasy that steps outside the usual tropes and settings to create something truly memorable. Weaving in fascinating details of Islamic history and folklore, The City of Brass is a fast-paced, opulent roller-coaster ride drenched in intrigue, hidden dangers, and compelling world building. I hung on every word and can’t wait to see what comes next for this fascinatingly complex cast of characters.

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Donna says:
Very engrossing novel.  I could not put it down.   
Heather says:
Stunningly well-written and chock-full of visceral details. The short scenes pack big punches, and each thread interweaves in an incredible, connected stream of consciousness. Time is not linear, and there are moments of sheer brilliance in the writing. One of my favorite reads this year.

Steph says:
Wonderfully written and subtly stunning. I am going to have to read her first book.
Heather says:
My favorite thing is this book! Surreal and mesmerizing, both in the words and the gorgeous illustrations. Storytelling and mythology interweave the narrative, creating a phenomenal exploration of the human monster, society, and the inner demons we all carry. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this one touched me at the deepest part of my psyche.
Panchinko by Min Jin Lee
Steph says:
This book does what all good fiction is supposed to. It entertains, it teaches, it crosses the stratum of emotions, and it leaves you thinking. A must read for fans of Amy Tan or The Joy Luck Club.
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Donna says:
I loved this book.  I read the first half straight through from about 2:30 AM till 5:30 AM. Stepping into the world of a woman that lived through much hardship and just got on with her family responsibilities without any doubt about what she should do or could do struck a chord with me. I hated for the book to end. 
Steph S. says:
I really enjoyed this book. It is beautifully written.
Tanya says:
I liked this book more than I expected to. It’s a nicely written story and it kept me interested beginning to end.
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
Beth says:
Loved this book! A good coming-of-age story. 
Heather says:
A wildly fun romp through a little girl’s screwed up world. It’s like a mid-grade novel on steroids. 
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Steph says:
This was fantastic!

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Donna says:
A generational story of wealthy refugees, this novel offers a view into a slice of life that we ordinarily do not see. The tense relations between the East and West areas of the world have been going on since time began, it seems. This story seems to close the distance just a little, and brings understanding of another culture with it.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Beth says:
“Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks! When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41!” Lizzie Borden was acquitted of murdering her parents in 1892, but there has always been a question of whether she really did the deed, and the author presents a fictional tale of how the murders could have happened.
Heather says: 
What a ride! A gripping opening, razor-sharp dialogue, and an intense attention to detail that puts you right in the scene. The narrative flows into madness until Lizzie becomes real, and you question everything. This one has stuck with me for a while.
Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Tracy says:
An urgent, haunting exploration of the weight of history and how it echoes through today’s reality. Reminiscent of Beloved, with a powerful, thoroughly modern spin.
Beth says:
Aa great read, especially when you figure out what the “twelve lives” are.
Tanya says:
This is one of my favorites. It travels back and forth between past and present in the book setting, but it flows perfectly. I had a hard time putting this one down. Excellent read.
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Donna says:
I found this novel to be a true page turner. The characters are universal.  Even though the book is set in the middle east, the story could take place right here in the United States. If not for the mention of towns like Beersheba and lots of mentions of the desert, a person could forget exactly where the story takes place. The human emotions of fear, jealousy, and survival are the same in any language or country. I highly recommend this novel.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2017: Our Favorite Books for Teens

In a year that the new John Green book doesn’t make our Best of the Year list, you know it was a great year for Young Adult literature. In fact, there were so many additional books we loved this year, that we can’t resist also adding a Honorable Mentions list!

The 2017 committee includes:

  • Chris, Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington Branch Library
  • Crystal, Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington Branch Library
  • Heather, BCPL Public Relations Administrative Assistant
  • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
  • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

FICTION

American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Chris says:
From the start, this book grips you in an emotional struggle and doesn’t let go.
Tracy says:
Magical and gritty and completely original. I usually move from one book to the next easily, but with this book, I was compelled to pause a bit to breathe it in and absorb the experience fully.

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Heather says:

A bizarre, intriguing journey into a brilliant mind that made me think I was losing mine! Incredible relationship dynamics and characters I wanted to drown in.
Tracy says:
Gripping from the first page, this mind-bending sci-fi gem delivers a little of everything, from complex, dynamic characters and stunning writing to a visceral, almost claustrophobic level of suspense.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Crystal says:
Loved, loved, LOVED this one! I cannot recommend this series enough.
Steph says:
THIS WAS FANTASTIC! I am amazed that a third book in a series is keeping up so well, maybe even surpassing its prequels.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner 
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
Heather says:

A wild romp from page one! Written in a conversational, bantering tone from the point-of-view of an itinerant man of privilege, this book is absolutely laugh-out-loud funny. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, and I didn’t want it to end! I’m so excited there’s a sequel coming in 2018!
Tracy says:
This book is a wild, delightful romp from page 1. I didn’t even know or care where the plot was going for the first quarter of the book—I simply hung on for the ride. I loved almost everything about it from beginning to end: the sometimes stunning writing that caught me unaware, moving me quickly from laughter to admiration for the writer’s skill; the deliciously layered characters and relationships; the breakneck pacing; and most of all Monty’s witty, brash, incorrigible, and occasionally vulnerable voice. Although I am gutted that the next book will have a different narrator, I can’t wait for the sequel from Felicity’s POV!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Heather says:

This book has wickedly clever writing, and a narrator whose voice is pure gold. I read it two days, hooked and unable to stop!
Tracy says:
A well-written, fast-paced read with substance! This is an important book that is also enjoyable to read, featuring a great, authentic voice and wonderful character development.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Steph says:
What a haunting and heartbreaking story about the foster care system and the power of love. The two main characters are so well-developed and relatable, you will love them. This story will stick with you. But seriously, you will need tissues.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Crystal says:

I really liked this one. It left you wondering what choice Will was going to make.That kind of ambiguity usually bothers me in endings, but I think it worked really well with this book.
Heather says:
Breathtaking and poetic; raw and anguished. I loved this and walked away from this book with a total author crush on Jason Reynolds.
Tracy says:
The verse is strong, and there is a mesmerizing tension that will transfix even the most reluctant reader. I was stunned by the power, emotion, and insight Reynolds was able to infuse into this short book that essentially takes place in a matter of minutes. Reminds me of a strange, magical mashup of both Walter Dean Myers’s Monster and A Christmas Carol.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Chris says:
I loved this book. There were so many moments that made me stop and close the book so I could digest them. A very powerful read.

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland
Tracy says:
This graphic novel is creepily, eerily good! The intentionally messy art took some getting used to, but the frenzied lines and vivid, loud colors create the perfect backdrop for Westerfeld’s mysterious, nightmarish world. This first installment of an intended duology introduces intriguing characters and plotlines full of complexity and nuance—I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Steph S. says:

A beautifully written story about an underdog who dared to dream. This book will remind you of why you fell in love with reading, or make you fall in love for the first time.
Crystal says:
This was my first time reading anything by this author. The world Taylor has created is like nothing I’ve ever read before. Skillfully written characters and an intriguing story. I could not put it down.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Heather says:
This entirely un-put-downable book starts deep in the thick of tension and stays heart-pounding till the end. The tension is incredible, and the two narrators are the perfect voices to tell a story about dying too young—and knowing it’s coming. Silvera has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Chris says:
This book feels very personal and genuine. One of the most realistic depictions of modern teens I’ve seen in a book.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Heather says:

Jae-Jones is an author with a true talent for painting with words. I couldn’t put this book down! Rich and majestic, with an aching depth to the protagonist and a cruel vulnerability to the Erlking. Reckless and dark and oh-so-beautiful.

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
Chris says:
The characters felt like real people. I was surprised at how easy it was to be pulled in.
Steph says:
Strong characters and a great story.

Honorable Mentions:
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Bang by Barry Lyga
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

NONFICTION

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Saved Their Lives 
by Dashka Slater
Tracy says:
This is a powerful story about the flawed legal system, gender identity, and perception, centered on  two teens whose lives were changed by an impulsive crime—one the the victim, the other the perpetrator. An artful exploration in the healing power found in simple humanity, tolerance, and forgiveness.


How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
Tracy says:

A gut-wrenching and inspiring memoir about growing up in a conflict zone, adapting to life in the U.S., and finding your voice. Told in conversational language with almost brutal honesty, Sandra’s story is both eye-opening and thoughtful, neither sensationalizing nor downplaying her experiences.
Spinning by Tillie Walden
Heather says:
Gorgeous illustrations and an incredibly realistic story combine to make this memoir something that teens (and even adults) can relate to—particularly in aspects of bullying, sexual identity, and a feeling of isolation. I didn’t put it down once I picked it up.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2017: Our Favorite Books for Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

Unlike last year, we seem to have a few trends running throughout our favorite middle-grade reads of the year.

  1. Oh, the poetry! Poetry had a good year in 2017, and not just in regard to MG books. But for this list, we were somehow able to narrow it down to just two titles—Kwame Alexander’s gorgeous celebration of poets and poetry itself, and Chris Harris’s hilarious romp that recalls  the best of Shel Silverstein. We think both books have the potential to become classics, and we’re expecting some serious awards nods for Out of Wonder when Youth Media Awards time rolls around.
  2. The graphic fantastic! Graphic novels were a big hit with us this year, though we couldn’t include all the books we loved on this list (sorry, Jennifer Holm). But our final selection does feature three of them—two standout, wonderfully illustrated tales about the perils of middle school and an otherworldly sci-fi adventure that has us anxiously awaiting the sequel this May. 

That’s not to say we don’t have plenty of variety to choose from this year. There’s the wonderful humor of Posted and the breathless intensity of Refugee. The quiet mystery of Beyond the Bright Sea, and the fantastical adventures of The Shadow Cipher. From the magical tale of a tree determined to help a friendless child to the gripping realism of a boy finding peace in LEGO constructions after his brother’s murder, we hope every reader of middle-grade fiction or nonfiction will discover a book they love among our Best of 2017 list. We sure did!

The 2017 committee includes:

  • Brandy T., Children’s Programming and Outreach Library Specialist
  • Heather, BCPL Public Relations Administrative Assistant
  • Marianne, Reference Services, Ridgway Memorial Library
  • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
  • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

FICTION

5 Worlds, Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Mark Segel
Heather says: So adorable! The world building is AWESOME, and it’s a really exciting, fast-paced story.
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Heather says: So absolutely adorable! I loved this one. Perfect illustrations, and a story that really captures the innocence of being a tween—and how the real world can test that innocence.
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Heather says: I love this book! Wolk is amazing.
Tracy says: Wolk weaves an affecting tale full of heart and adventure, featuring an intrepid heroine, compelling relationships, and an intriguing setting.
Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter
Heather says: The melting pot of this family and this life is SO real, especially for people who have experienced adoption and the foster system. A strong, vibrant voice and an effortlessly beautiful story. I devoured it in a matter of hours.
Marianne says: This is a heart-wrenching and mind-boggling book about a little girl who has been in the foster care system and is now learning to be part of a family. It’s heart-wrenching because it happens all the time in real life…and it’s mind-boggling because there ARE REAL LIFE children who have to shoulder the same trauma and struggle as our 11-year-old narrator, Flora. Thought-provoking and moving.
Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis
Heather says: This is a raw, violent story of fighting to survive and fighting for what’s right. I loved the story, which will be great for older tween readers.
Steph says: Would you risk your life to save a baby gorilla? That is exactly what Imara and Bobo do. An inspirational story of courage and taking a stand, when what you have to lose is everything.
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Heather says: A funny, clever tale with pieces that fit together perfectly like a predestined puzzle.
It All Comes Down to This by Karen English
Steph says: A wonderful coming of age story set in the 1960s. Sophie is dealing with relationships, both friendly and familial and trying to define herself amidst racism, sometimes even felt within her own home.
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Heather says: Obe is every twelve year old I knew. Obe is me, awkward but smart and compassionate, fine with being the outsider (mostly) but still a ball of anxiety over things he can’t control. He and his family are so real and dysfunctional; the way he stands for what he believes despite his parents’ dismissal resonates with me. This is a story about the devastation humans can bring about just by changing things. It isn’t a warning to stop changing. Just a warning to be more compassionate, to care about every step you take. So beautifully and wonderfully done.
Steph says:  This book is a reminder that we should cherish our environment. A must read for fans of Hoot.

Posted by John David Anderson
Heather says: I love this book!!! I was blown away by how well-written this is, and how relatable the characters are.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Tracy: Three stories of refugees—separated by time, place, and culture—are skillfully interwoven in this breathless tale of suspense. Each of the stories is powerful and compelling on its own, but the combined tale of parallel adventures, tragedies, and triumphs is absolutely stunning. Gratz does a masterful job of bringing the experiences of refugees to life, across generations and across continents, in a way that is heartbreakingly real but ultimately inspiring.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
Tracy says: 
This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from complexities or fun, diverse characters, and the book is all the richer for it. Lolly’s anger and sadness as he tries to move past his brother’s death are stunningly real, and I was riveted by the poetic detail and vibrant characters that bring Lolly’s Harlem neighborhood to life. An engrossing story about grief, imagination, choices, and finding hope in the face of hostile circumstances.
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Tracy says: This is a nuanced, thoroughly enjoyable WWII-era fiction filled with wonderful characters and plenty of heart. The writing is so fluid and brimming with Ada’s personality, I felt like her troubles and emotions were my own. It’s a very quiet, character-driven story, and yet there is so much that happens, not to mention all of the inner struggles happening beneath Ada’s brave, determined surface. This is a sequel to The War That Saved My Life, but it didn’t even matter that I haven’t read the first book—though I certainly intend to do so now!
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Tracy says: This book has a wonderful message about kindness, community, environmentalism, and speaking up in the face of injustice. Applegate has a way of infusing magic into the ordinary, and this quiet little book provides a near-perfect balance of humor and thoughtfulness.
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
Heather says: Smart, funny, and overflowing with personality. The world is a fascinating, steampunk-flavored miracle of imagination.
Stephanie says: I loved this adventure! This mystery/fantasy kept me captivated as I fell in love with Tess, Theo, and Jaime. Supported with facts, Ruby’s book will have you wanting to move to New York City!


NONFICTION

Don’t Read This Book Before Bed: Thrills, Chills, and Hauntingly True Stories
by Anna Claybourne
Tracy says: From vampire bats to haunted islands to alien species, this fascinating collection of facts and stories has something for everyone. And if the spine-tingling tales aren’t enough on their own, the full-color spreads, astounding photographs, and interactive quizzes make this a surefire winner for anyone interested in the paranormal, the creepy, or the unusual.
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids
and Immature Grown-ups
by Chris Harris

Tracy says: These poems are so fun, and the illustrations and playful asides are the perfect complement! I loved every bit of this wonderfully wacky compilation. I guess you can add me to the “immature grown-ups” list!
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d by Mary Losure
Brandy says: This is a really great read. I was worried it would be way too factual and therefore boring, but I was wrong. I was worried about the science in this book being over my head and a turn off. Instead, I got a page-turning read and a better understanding of some of the science of Harry Potter. Also, 100% recommend the audiobook. 
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley & Marjory Wentworth

Heather says: Stunning artwork in colors that speak as loud as the poems themselves. Some so beautiful they take your breath away. A short read; you could easily spend an entire day, soaking in the beauty of the words
Marianne says: The Newbery Award-winning author has paid tribute to famous poets by adopting their style. This is an interesting and educational book (I had to harken back to my middle school English classes when we studied poetry) which is also filled with lovely artwork. My number one favorite on the list.
 
Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden
Marianne says: For the category “People Marianne didn’t learn about in school.” Short and interesting biographies of fascinating people with big, bold dreams. I loved these history lessons!
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
Tracy says: Achingly real and slyly funny, this graphic memoir from a beloved author provides an honest portrait of the ups and downs of childhood friendships and sibling rela
tionships. I was particularly intrigued by the parts about Shannon’s inner imagination—perfectly conveyed by LeUyen Pham’s vibrant illustrations—and her journey as a young writer and storyteller. 
Survivor’s Club: The True Story of A Very Young Boy in Auschwitz 
by Michael Bornstein and‎ Debbie Bornstein Holinstat

Brandy says: This book will pull at your heartstrings for sure. It is a great place to start if you are interested in reading an account from a survivor of the Holocaust. It is as easy of a read as it can be for a Holocaust story. I highly recommend it!

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2017: Our Favorite Books for Young Readers

It’s been a busy year of reading! Over the course of the last year, our Young Readers Committee read (and often reread) nearly 200 books on our longlist to identify those titles we believe to be the best 2017 had to offer for pre-school and early-elementary-aged children, roughly ages 0 to 8.

The 2017 committee includes:
Angel, Children’s Librarian
Brandy T., Children’s Outreach & Programming Library Specialist
Monty, Circulation Clerk
Pam, Mt. Washington Branch Manager
Stephanie L., Reference Clerk
Tanya, Circulation Clerk
Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

It was tough narrowing down the finalists and we had plenty of disagreements along the way. We were particularly divided on A Different Pond and After the Fall: How Humpty Got Up Again. Some felt A Different Pond is better suited to older kids, while it was at the absoulte top of the list for others. After the Fall also ranked very high on some readers’ list while others were less enthused. But in the end, we decided to include both of them and let you decide for yourselves! Other books, like Be Quiet! were pretty much universally loved and have been shoe-ins from our first encounter. Overall, we are very happy with our final selections. In particular, we were pleased with the quality of the nonfiction and chapter books to be found this year. So without further ado, BCPL’s favorite 2017 books for young readers are:

PICTURE BOOKS–FICTION

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Up Again by Doug Santat
Monty says: This book has a good message about not giving up and learning to conquer your fears—and if you do, you may just become the something great you were meant to be.

Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson
Tanya says: I really enjoyed this book. It told a cute story, plus a life lesson, in one. The pictures are amazing and it was a very sweet read.

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
Brandy says: I’m completely in love with this book.
Stephanie says: My 5 year old and I loved this book; we laughed throughout the whole thing! The illustrations were good, the characters funny and imaginative, and the storyline hilarious. We read it twice that day and then read parts of it to everyone at dinner.

A Different Pond by Bao Phi
Tracy says: Gorgeous. I love the saturated illustrations and the quietly captivating story,
Give Me Back My Book by Travis Foster and Ethan Long
Pam says: This is a hilarious book about two friends, Bloo and Redd, arguing over a book.
A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins
Pam says: The watercolor pictures are so well done, and the characters really come to life in this tongue-twister. The fun builds and builds with each page. I love the illustration on the last page, greyhound and groundhog are both worn out, but boy did they have a good time!

I Am Not a Chair by Ross Burach
Monty says: This book is GREAT! The illustrations are very funny, and the book had several of us laughing out lout at work.
In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes
Tracy says: A very engaging reading experience, with the text and illustrations work together beautifully.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt
Stephanie says: A silly story of how the “decision making” game came about! My daughter and I both laughed throughout.
Life by Cynthia Rylant
Pam says: I cannot get over how moving this story is. The author encourages us to appreciate life, even when the world looks dark. The illustrations are so beautiful. I will have to purchase a personal copy of this book.

Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s by Patrick McDonnell
Pam says: I enjoyed every page of this wordless book. This is a fun book to share with someone learning the alphabet. The illustrations tell a wonderfully fun story. 
Tracy says: Think alphabet book meets seek and find meets adventure story. This is a great book for an adult and child to read together to work on early literacy skills. It would be fun too because kids might come up with slight variations on what’s happening or notice new things with each reread.
Now by Antoinette Portis
Pam says: I liked the simplicity of the illustrations. The book is about living in the “now” and I found the illustrations to focus on the now. There are no distractions, just what is going on right now. 

There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher
Pam says: This is such a fun, interactive book to read with little ones. The illustrations are colorful and the monster…you will see.
Walk with Me by Jairo Biutrago
Tracy says: A deceptively simple story about big emotions and the adult responsibilities children must sometimes take on due to circumstance. There’s lots of little details in the illustrations and subtleties that follow from page to page that leave room for discussion and add a lot to the text.
What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen
Stephanie says: I love this story! Such great examples of using your imagination with something as simple as a cardboard box! My 8 year old daughter who is very creative was inspired by this book!

PICTURE BOOKS–NONFICTION
All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle

Monty says: The illustrations in this book are wonderful and very realistic. They add much to this story about family and the views of a young boy’s trip to Havana in the old family car.
Tracy says: This is a great story about perseverance, family, and tradition. Not to mention the illustrations are fabulous. Car enthusiasts in particular will love it.
Before She Was Harriet: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Angel says: I love how the book started when Harriet was older but went back to where her journey began. The illustrations are amazing and have a lot of emotion.
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvindar Naberhaus
Angel says: I love the amazing illustrations, and the words are simple but really speak to what we hold dear.
Feathers and Hair: What Animals Wear by Jennifer Ward
Stephanie says: A vibrant, beautifully illustrated book about different animals!
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
Tracy says: I always love Jason Chin’s work! Here, he includes so much wonderful detail and opportunities for the readers to engage, discuss, and feel part of the journey. It’s full of information, but very accessible.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
Tracy says: This is a really engaging exploration of the Statue of Liberty and its purpose, to be enjoyed by readers young and old.
Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout, Dance, Spin & Turn It Out: Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood collected by Patricia C. McKissack
Tanya says: I loved this book. It brought back so many memories of games and rhymes and stories that I learned as a child. I think this is a great read for anyone, both young and old.
Round by Joyce Sidman
Tracy says: This simple yet thoughtful book does a wonderful job of introducing the concept of roundness while celebrating nature.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
Stephanie says: I would recommend this book to anyone with children, especially with little girls. I love the quotes from each of the women and the constant message that “she persisted” and you should never give up! I read this to both my girls and talked to them in length about each lady in the book.
Tracy says: This is a fantastic, inspirational read for kids and their parents. From the variation in text to the illustrations and the way they work together, this book is laid out beautifully.

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
Tanya says: The illustrations are fascinating in this great story about using your imagination and doing big things in your life.
Tracy says: I love this book! It’s inspiring and imaginative, with text and illustrations that work together perfectly to convey facts as well as ideas that are much larger.

BEGINNING/EASY READERS
Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father by Monica Kulling
Brandy says: Right now is the perfect timing for this book.
Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder
Tracy says: The repetition is great for beginning readers, and the illustrations are adorable and do a lot to bring the simple text to life. The stories are very relateable tales about two brothers, with plenty of gentle humor.

CHAPTER BOOKS
Ada Lace, On the Case by Emily Calandrelli
Beatrice Zinker: Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes
Tracy says: 
Beatrice Zinkner is a wonderful new character in children’s literature, an imaginative, one-of-a-kind girl with a huge heart.
The Case of the Poached Egg by Robin Newman
Monty says: This is a really cute book with lots of play on words and fun pictures.
Fergus and Zeke by Kate Messner
Stephanie says: A fun and cure chapter book with an entertaining story and good illustrations.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster
Tracy says: This is a super-cute story about a lovable vampire-fairy trying to find a place to belong, and the black, white, and pink illustrations proved the perfect complement to the story. I think kids will be eager to follow Isadora’s further adventures as the series continues.
Princess Cora & the Crocodile by Laura Any Schlitz
Monty says: This is a delightful chapter book filled with soft pastel watercolors.
Tracy says: What a funny little gem of a chapter book! It would be great for kids navigating everyday issues with their parents.


Source: Book News and Reviews

BCPL Patrons’ Favorite Books of 2017

Our first staff-generated Best Books of 2017 list will be announced this Saturday, but first we’re sharing the books YOU loved over the past year. In December, we asked you to tell us your favorites from the last year, and the results are in!








Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Young Readers
Our top vote getters from 2017 were You Don’t Want a Unicorn!—another hilarious offering from BCPL staff favorite Ame Dyckman—and Patrick McDonnell’s Shine!, a thoughtful book about learning to appreciate the world’s wonders.

Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King was the top standalone pick, but series were also popular this year. We received votes for The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan (2nd in the Percy Jackson spin-off series The Trials of Apollo) and the American Girl series—Gabriela: Time for Change by Varian Johnson was mentioned by one voter specifically. Also getting some love was Jennifer Bell’s The Uncommoners series, which began in 2016 with The Crooked Sixpence and continued this year with The Smoking Hourglass.



Patron Vote: Best Book for Teens

The big favorite here was Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited, a fresh, upbeat romance featuring a slightly overweight teen who has been more comfortable nursing a lengthy series of secret crushes than actually talking to a boy she likes. Then she finds herself embroiled in a love triangle (but not really) while coping with new changes to her relationship with her sister. It’s a fast-paced, enjoyable read, with just the right amount of quirk, perfect for readers who enjoy realistic fiction with smart, diverse characters and well-drawn relationships.


Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Adults
Votes in the favorite book for adults category were a hodgepodge, including George Saunders’s multi-voiced literary tome Lincoln in the Bardo; No Middle Name, a collection of Jack Reacher stories from Lee Child; John Boyne’s coming-of-age tale The Heart’s Invisible Fury; and Katherine Arden’s spellbinding fantasy, The Bear and the Nightingale—which is also a favorite of several BCPL staff members. 

Source: Book News and Reviews

BCPL Patrons’ Favorite Books of 2017

Our first staff-generated Best Books of 2017 list will be announced this Saturday, but first we’re sharing the books YOU loved over the past year. In December, we asked you to tell us your favorites from the last year, and the results are in!








Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Young Readers
Our top vote getters from 2017 were You Don’t Want a Unicorn!—another hilarious offering from BCPL staff favorite Ame Dyckman—and Patrick McDonnell’s Shine!, a thoughtful book about learning to appreciate the world’s wonders.

Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King was the top standalone pick, but series were also popular this year. We received votes for The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan (2nd in the Percy Jackson spin-off series The Trials of Apollo) and the American Girl series—Gabriela: Time for Change by Varian Johnson was mentioned by one voter specifically. Also getting some love was Jennifer Bell’s The Uncommoners series, which began in 2016 with The Crooked Sixpence and continued this year with The Smoking Hourglass.



Patron Vote: Best Book for Teens

The big favorite here was Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited, a fresh, upbeat romance featuring a slightly overweight teen who has been more comfortable nursing a lengthy series of secret crushes than actually talking to a boy she likes. Then she finds herself embroiled in a love triangle (but not really) while coping with new changes to her relationship with her sister. It’s a fast-paced, enjoyable read, with just the right amount of quirk, perfect for readers who enjoy realistic fiction with smart, diverse characters and well-drawn relationships.


Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Adults
Votes in the favorite book for adults category were a hodgepodge, including George Saunders’s multi-voiced literary tome Lincoln in the Bardo; No Middle Name, a collection of Jack Reacher stories from Lee Child; John Boyne’s coming-of-age tale The Heart’s Invisible Fury; and Katherine Arden’s spellbinding fantasy, The Bear and the Nightingale—which is also a favorite of several BCPL staff members. 

Source: Book News and Reviews

BCPL Patrons’ Favorite Books of 2017

Our first staff-generated Best Books of 2017 list will be announced this Saturday, but first we’re sharing the books YOU loved over the past year. In December, we asked you to tell us your favorites from the last year, and the results are in!








Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Young Readers
Our top vote getters from 2017 were You Don’t Want a Unicorn!—another hilarious offering from BCPL staff favorite Ame Dyckman—and Patrick McDonnell’s Shine!, a thoughtful book about learning to appreciate the world’s wonders.

Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King was the top standalone pick, but series were also popular this year. We received votes for The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan (2nd in the Percy Jackson spin-off series The Trials of Apollo) and the American Girl series—Gabriela: Time for Change by Varian Johnson was mentioned by one voter specifically. Also getting some love was Jennifer Bell’s The Uncommoners series, which began in 2016 with The Crooked Sixpence and continued this year with The Smoking Hourglass.



Patron Vote: Best Book for Teens

The big favorite here was Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited, a fresh, upbeat romance featuring a slightly overweight teen who has been more comfortable nursing a lengthy series of secret crushes than actually talking to a boy she likes. Then she finds herself embroiled in a love triangle (but not really) while coping with new changes to her relationship with her sister. It’s a fast-paced, enjoyable read, with just the right amount of quirk, perfect for readers who enjoy realistic fiction with smart, diverse characters and well-drawn relationships.


Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for Adults
Votes in the favorite book for adults category were a hodgepodge, including George Saunders’s multi-voiced literary tome Lincoln in the Bardo; No Middle Name, a collection of Jack Reacher stories from Lee Child; John Boyne’s coming-of-age tale The Heart’s Invisible Fury; and Katherine Arden’s spellbinding fantasy, The Bear and the Nightingale—which is also a favorite of several BCPL staff members. 

Source: Book News and Reviews

Staff Members Pick Their Top 5 Reads of the Year

Last year, I kicked off the New Year with my first Tracy’s Year in Reading post. This year, I am putting a different spin on things and sharing the top 5 picks from a number of BCPL staffers. These are the books that we loved best in 2017, from the hottest new thrillers to enduring classics we read for the first (or 100th) time.

Amanda’s Top 5:
Circulation Clerk, Ridgway Memorial


Come Sundown by Nora Roberts   
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb 

View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

The Obsession by Nora Roberts   
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman   
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via KLU


Life of Lies by Sharon Sala
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

Anna’s Top 5:
Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington


We Were One by Patrick K. O’Donnell
Get e-audiobook via Hoopla

Rebel Mother by Peter Andreas
View in catalog | Get e-audiobook via Hoopla

Colonial Project, National Game by Andrew D. Morris
BCPL currently has no holdings for this title, but you can request an Interlibrary Loan!

Manchurian Legacy by Kazuko Kuramoto
BCPL currently has no holdings for this title, but you can request an Interlibrary Loan!

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Get e-book via KLU

Beth’s Top 5:
Assistant Branch Manager, Lebanon Junction

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU
I love a scary story, and these 4 novellas give you that creepy feeling like you’re being watched, and there IS a monster underneath your bed!! Joe Hill is proof that great horror writing is genetic—his father is Stephen King!

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
View in catalog | Get e-book via Hoopla | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via KLU
“Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks! When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41!” Lizzie Borden was acquitted of murdering her parents in 1892, but there has always been a question of whether she really did the deed, and the author presents a fictional tale of how the murders could have happened.

The Rift by Walter J. Williams
BCPL currently has no holdings for this title, but you can request an Interlibrary Loan!
Residents of the Midwest have been watching and waiting for the New Madrid Fault to produce “The Big One Earthquake”—many tremors have been felt in recent years. The Rift is this native Illinoisan’s worst nightmare-an 8.9 earthquake rips through New Madrid, Missouri, changing lives there and throughout the country forever. I couldn’t put it down—great beach read!!

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen
View in catalog
Do you ever really know your neighbors? This book explores the lives of 3 families of a quiet cul-de-sac in a neighborhood that’s rated one of “The Top Twenty Safest Neighborhoods in America,” and the secrets that everyone hides, including the new neighbors. Another great beach read!

The Day the World Went Nuclear: Dropping the Atom Bomb and the End of WWII in the Pacific by Bill O’Reilly
View in catalog
Everyone knows the United States dropped atomic bombs on two cities in Japan in August 1945—Nagasaki and Hiroshima. O’Reilly tells the story of how the bomb was developed, who the key players were, and the dropping of the bombs and Japan’s surrender just days after. It’s a story everyone should know, and a story that should never be forgotten-and raises the age old question: Just because we can, should we??

Cheryl’s Top 5:
Assistant Branch Manager, Ridgway Memorial


A Child Called It by Dave Peltzer
View in catalog
This book is number one in a series of four. This story will impact your life. You will either like or dislike the book, but you will never forget it!

Plain Fame by Sarah Price
View in catalog
Book one in a series of six. This is a story of an Amish girl getting involved with an Englisher. They have a whirlwind of a relationship with a lot of differences and sameness. Excellent series!

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber
View in catalog
Book one in a series of four called “New Beginnings.” It is a different side to Debbie Macomber, one that I truly enjoyed reading. It has all the good, the bad, and the ugly— just like real life.

Mind Game by Iris Johansen
View in catalog
I love a good mystery, one that you can’t easily figure out. That’s what Iris Johansen has done with this story. It follows the Jane MacGuire, daughter of Eve Duncan, to Scotland. She comes face to face with intrigue, mystery, and death.

The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln by Samuel A. Schreiner, Jr
View in catalog
Abraham Lincoln is my favorite person in history. Finding out Mrs. Lincoln was railroaded by her son, Robert, she was institutionalized in a mental hospital. Her finances cut short, reputation shattered, Mrs. Lincoln lives out the remainder of her days in Europe.

Crystal’s Top 5:
Circulation Clerk, Mt. Washington

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

Firstborn by Tosca Lee
View in catalog

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU

Heather’s Top 5:

Administrative Assistant, Public Relations


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via Hoopla
A wild romp from page one! Written in a conversational, bantering tone from the point-of-view of an itinerant man of privilege, this book is absolutely laugh-out-loud funny. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, and I didn’t want it to end! I’m so excited there’s a sequel coming in 2018!

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai 
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via KLU
This sci-fi novel is overflowing with personality. Insanely smart and intelligently written, Mastei has created art with words in a distant utopia, and given us a character that is endearing, funny, and a complete idiot. Loved every page of this one.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris
View in catalog
My favorite thing is this book! Surreal and mesmerizing, both in the words and the gorgeous illustrations. Storytelling and mythology interweave the narrative, creating a phenomenal exploration of the human monster, society, and the inner demons we all carry. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this one touched me at the deepest part of my psyche.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden 
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via KLU
Beautifully written and darkly enchanting, this is a must-read for all lovers of fantasy and fairy tales. I was hooked from page one. It breathes a breath of fresh air on a genre that (usually) relies heavily on Germanic folklore by bringing to life little-known Russian fairy tales in an epic that keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you breathless.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU
Jae-Jones is an author with a true talent for painting with words. I couldn’t put this book down! Rich and majestic, with an aching depth to the protagonist and a cruel vulnerability to the Erlking. Reckless and dark and oh-so-beautiful.

Tracy’s Top 5:

Public Relations Coordinator


All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai 
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via KLU
Unless you count YA dystopia, sci-fi is SO not to my usual taste. But I adored this breezy, smartly written time travel caper with its bungling, strangely charming anti-hero. Mastai takes a concept that could’ve easily become trite or stale and breathes magnificent life into it. Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
View in catalog | Get e-audiobook via Hoopla
The City of Brass is an absorbing fantasy that steps outside the usual tropes and settings to create something truly memorable. Weaving in fascinating details of Islamic history and folklore, it’s a fast-paced, opulent roller-coaster ride drenched in intrigue, hidden dangers, and spellbinding world building. I hung on every word and can’t wait to see what comes next for this fascinatingly complex cast of characters. Book 2 of this trilogy can’t come fast enough for me.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
View in catalog | Get e-book via KLU | Get e-audiobook via Hoopla
Clearly, Heather and I need to stop reading all the same books! As she so perfectly describes, this book is a wild, delightful romp from page 1. I didn’t even know or care where the plot was going for the first quarter of the book—I simply hung on for the ride. I loved almost everything about it from beginning to end: the sometimes stunning writing that caught me unaware, moving me quickly from laughter to admiration for the writer’s skill; the deliciously layered characters and relationships; the breakneck pacing; and most of all Monty’s witty, brazen, incorrigible, and occasionally vulnerable voice. Although I am gutted that the next book will have a different narrator, I can’t wait for the sequel from Felicity’s POV!

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
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This sweeping, luminous debut was a late addition to our Best of 2016 Adult Fiction list. I discovered it in January, barely a week before our final Best of the Year list was released, and I insisted on adding it to the final selection. The beautiful, powerful writing; thought-provoking story; and strong characterizations that make up this historical saga still linger in my mind nearly a full year later.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
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A hypnotic blend of poetry and prose provides a raw, searing portrait of grief, a complicated childhood, and—as can be expected from Alexie—the realities of life as a modern American Indian. It’s also the book I’ve probably connected with the most this year on a personal level. I’ve been a fan of Alexie’s work ever since a classmate introduced me to a story from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven my sophomore year of college (read: a very, very long time ago). He’s an author who’s not afraid to be a bit controversial to make his point and tell his truth.

Source: Book News and Reviews

UTB Spotlight: Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Greetings! And happy Teen Read Week!

Traditionally here at BCPL, Teen Read Week has become the time when we announce the latest additions to our annual Ultimate Teen Booklist. This year, we are trying something a little different. Instead of providing you with a utilitarian list of all the new additions, we’ve decided to tell you a little more about each of our picks—including an explanation of WHY we believe it deserves a spot on our Ultimate Teen Booklist. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting new additions for our 2017 list one by one so that you can learn more about each of them. So while Teen Read Week may officially end after today, we’ll be keeping the celebration going!

The first new addition to our 2017 list is Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley!

Whaley’s third novel was a Best of 2016 selection and has since appeared as a Staff Pick from yours truly, so it may come as no surprise that it’s joining the Ultimate Teen Booklist. I’ve read each of Whaley’s books, and every one of them has been named to the BCPL Best of the Year list: Where Things Come Back appeared on our 2011 Best of the Year list (our very first!); Noggin made the 2014 list; and, finally, Highly Illogical Behavior was selected last year.

Where Things Come Back also won Michael L. Printz and Morris awards, and Noggin was a National Book Award finalist. Yet of the three, Highly Illogical Behavior is the first to make the cut for our Ultimate Teen Booklist. All of Whaley’s books are extremely well written, with snappy dialog and intriguing characters, but Highly Illogical Behavior is the one that, for me, is the most memorable.

What it’s about:
Sixteen-year-old Solomon Reed hasn’t left his house in three years, and even the thought of doing so brings on crippling anxiety attacks. Solomon loves his family and Star Trek—and he’s fairly content with the status quo, even if his parents continue to hope he will someday want more. Enter seventeen-year-old Lisa Payton, a type-A overachiever with an essay to write about her “personal experience” with mental illness. Solomon’s breakdown three years ago was pretty public, so Lisa decides to “befriend” him and “fix” him to lock in the scholarship she’s chasing. She also pulls her boyfriend Clark in on the scheme.

Why it belongs on the list:
This is highly readable story about mental illness, friendship, and taking chances. It’s funny, bittersweet, though-provoking, smart, and sometimes eye-opening. Mental illness has become a popular topic of YA fiction in recent years, but Solomon’s anxiety is depicted so vividly that it feels like the realest, truest picture of anxiety I’ve encountered yet in fiction. Whaley has done a remarkable job of making the thoughts and fears of a teenage agoraphobe relatable.

The characters of Highly Illogical Behavior are complex and often defy stereotypes, from Solomon—who is so much more than the labels others might use to define him—to the sweet, unexpectedly layered Clark, who couldn’t be further from the standard one-dimensional “jock” character we’ve come to expect in fiction. Then there’s Lisa, who’s self-serving scheme should make her an easy character to loath, and yet the reader can’t help but see her redeeming qualities or at least understand her—and not just because of some “noble sacrifice” manufactured by the author to make her redeemable. Thankfully, Whaley has also avoided the too-common YA trope of absent or vilified parents—Solomon’s are pretty great without being too ridiculously perfect either. While the book’s characters act in a way that is completely believable, they still keep you guessing. Just when you feel a situation is taking a turn toward the predictable, it goes somewhere so much better and infinitely more honest.

Witty dialog, prose that seems effortless, and oodles of quirky charm make this book a joy to read, and the book is further elevated by the thoughtful, multi-dimensional treatment of a character with anxiety disorder. It’s a book that makes you think about friendship, about forgiveness, and about personal courage—not the courage that wins medals and acclaim, but the small braveries that can be found in each and every day.
Source: Book News and Reviews

SummerQuest 2017: 7 Guest Reviews from Middle-Grade Readers

SummerQuest is on! We’re having a great summer at BCPL with events ranging from awesome makerspaces to gaming nights to an outdoor concert. But the heart of our summer library program will always be books and reading.

And we’re so excited with the response we are receiving from the participants in our 10 in 10 Reading Challenge for Tweens, Teens, and Adults. Here are just a few of the book reviews we’ve received so far; more will be posted here over the month to come. A HUGE thanks to all of our guest reviewers for sharing!

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Reviewer: Victoria R., Age 10
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel/Memoir
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: The book Sisters is about two girls named Raina and Amara. Raina and Amara have to travel for a week in the car to Colorado when the incident comes up again.  I think this book is good because its about the sisters. The author is also creative. There is also a lot of drama between the two sisters.

*This book completes the Book By or About Someone I Admire challenge in Victoria’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: This was my first Raina Telgemeier book, and I saw immediately why she has become so popular with both readers and reviewers. Her work is full of  heart and realistic relationships we can relate to. Here’s what I had to say a few years ago, when Sisters made our Best of 2014 list:

In her follow-up to Smile, Telgemeier focuses on the ups and downs of her childhood relationship with her younger sister. The two are wildly different and have frequent battles, and yet they have one very important thing in common. Though there are frequent flashbacks to key moments, the narrative centers on a family road trip to attend a family reunion. The pacing, text, and expressive art are top-notch.


The Hunt for the Hundredth Key by Geronimo Stilton
Reviewer: Victoria R., Age 10
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Audience: Young Readers 

Victoria’s Summary & Review: The book, The Hunt for the Hundredth Key, is about Geronimo Stilton wanting to write a book until his sister takes him to help solve a mystery. I like the book because the author is creative. Another reason is because of the characters, setting, and the mystery.

*This book completes the Book I Loved As a Child challenge in Victoria’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

The Baby Sitters Club by Raina Telgemeier
Reviewer: Victoria R., Age 10
Victoria’s Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: The book, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, is about Claudia, Janine, and a baby-sitters club. Claudia and her friends want to baby-sit while Janine wants to study until an accident comes up. I enjoyed the book because of the setting, characters, and the author. The setting is outside and I like the outside, so that is why I like the setting. I like the characters because they are caring. I like the author, Raina Telgemeier, because she is creative.

*This book completes the Graphic Novel challenge in Victoria’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: This book is about a sister who loses her older sister while she was running to fast, so she slipped and fell into the slip. Her younger sister has help with her soul animal to find out why her sister had wanted to run faster. I liked this book, Maybe a Fox, because the author, Kathi Appelt, showed emotion well while writing. I also like how she describe every little detail. She also described each personality of the sisters really well. This is why I like the book Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt.

*This book completes the BCPL Staff Pick challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!


Rutabaga The Adventure Chef…Feasts of Fury by Eric Colossal
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: Rutabaga continues his mission to find exotic foods for his dishes. While trying to do this, he runs into all sorts of messes. While being a chief he gets taken and forced to work as a chief for an evil goblin. The book was okay because the author didn’t show any emotion while writing. Also, I don’t really like comics. Another thing is that the characters don’t really develop. This is why I think the book was okay.

*This book completes the Graphic Novel challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Comedy
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: This book is about a kid who enters sweepstakes to earn something for his mom, because their dad died and they are put on eviction at their apartment for not paying the rent on time. I like this book because the author, Donna Gephart, puts good emotion into her writing. She also does a good job explaining how things happen in a different way than most authors do. This makes her writing enjoyable. This is why I think you should read the book Death by Toilet Paper.

*This book completes the Book Your Friends Love challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Middle School Escape to Australia by James Patterson
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Victoria’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Comedy
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Victoria’s Summary & Review: This book is about a kid named Rafe who wins an art competition and wins a trip to Australia. There he finds a group called the outsiders which he fits right into. He then makes a piece of art to display. What the people don’t know is that he has a bigger surprise coming. The book, Middle School Escape to Australia, is something you should read. First the author, James Patterson, does a really good job on showing emotion. Also, he does a good job on describing the characters. Not to mention he has a really good plot. He also does a good job on the setting. He makes the setting fit the story. This is why I think the book Middle School Escape to Australia is a good book to read.

*This book completes the Book Published in 2017 challenge in Katelynn’s 10 in 10 Reading Challenge!

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2016: Adult Nonfiction

As some of you may know, I tend to gravitate to fiction books over nonfiction. Case in point: of the 80+ reviews I’ve written for Book News & Reviews over the years, only two of them—Sex on the Moon and Tiger, Tiger—have been for nonfiction works. That’s not to say I haven’t read, enjoyed, and recommended plenty of nonfiction books. But perhaps I’ve been a bit less enthusiastic in my desire to share and talk about the nonfiction titles I’ve read.

But this year, there have been nonfiction books I couldn’t wait to talk about. I was delighted when I learned a new essay collection would be released by Annie Dillard, a personal favorite ever since I discovered Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in an undergrad writing class. Then there was Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Klosterman’s But What If We’re Wrong?, both of which helped me finally get a word in edgewise with a certain friend who’s convinced he understands all the mysteries of the universe and tends to lecture his less informed friends (like me) despite pleas for mercy. And who wouldn’t want to tell everyone about a book featuring “the bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu”?

There were so many discussion-worthy nonfiction books in 2016, and not all of them could make our list of the Best Books of 2016. But if you have a favorite that didn’t make our 2016 list, let us know. We’re ready to talk books—fiction, nonfiction, whatever. 

The 2016 Adult Nonfiction committee includes:

  • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library 
  • Tanya, Circulation Clerk (various locations) 
  • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

    The Abundance by Annie Dillard

    I say:
    Annie Dillard can always be counted on for an offbeat perspective on seemingly everyday occurrences, and her way of observing the natural world is nothing short of inspiring. She’s not for everyone, but her writing always leaves me in awe.

    *E-book available via Kentucky Libraries Unbound*


    Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans De Waal

    Stephanie says:
    I am not usually one to read about science, blah! However, De Waal’s book may just change that. De Waal’s cross-species study of cognition is amazing, even to a layman like me. This book is to make you think twice when talking to your pets or walking through the zoo. 

    The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s
    Most Precious Manuscripts
    by Joshua Hammer

    Tanya says:
    It had me hooked in the first chapter. There’s just the right mix of history and mystery, not overwhelming with unimportant details. This is a great read!

    The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams

    Stephanie says:
    LOVED it. It is a simple read, but thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational.

    Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

    Stephanie says:
    Loved it! Often when a musician writes a memoir, they use the same poetry they utilize in lyric writing and the outcome is disjointed, sporadic bursts of words that end up being too stream of consciousness. That is not the case with Born to Run. Springsteen does indeed employ the poetry he is famous for, but the end result is inspiring.

    Evicted by Matthew Desmond

    I say:
    In past years, books like Ghettoside (2015) and Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012) have given me an eye-opening glimpse at an unfamiliar world through in-depth fieldwork and compassionate reportage. Desmond’s stories of eight real families living in poverty in Milwaulkee is yet another gripping ethnographic study that I will remember for years to come. Literary journalism at its finest.

    Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

    Stephanie says:
    This book is definitely a niche book, but it’s really good!

    Morgue: A Life in Death by Dr. Vincent Dimaio and Ton Franscell

    Tanya says:
    I absolutely loved this book! It was a fast read, with very informative insights into current cases as well as infamous cases in history.

    Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

    I say:
    I got more out of this book than I retained from an entire semester of advanced high school physics and two semesters of college astronomy. Rather than introducing boring formulas I’ll never use and endless technical terms and dates, Rovelli focuses on the wider theories, their inconsistencies with one another, and the questions that still exist in our understanding. In under 80 pages, he explains a century’s worth of physics in conversational language, creating an accessible, beautiful meditation on physics and philosophy.

    *E-book and e-audiobook formats available via Kentucky Libraries Unbound*

    Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

    I say:
    Okay, I’ll be honest. I haven’t quite finished this book yet (it’s over 600 pages, and the audiobook I’m listening to is over 19 hours), but so far it’s fascinating! So I had to put it on this list anyway, even if it’s all downhill from here. Jackson’s life is interesting enough on its own, but Ruth Franklin does a wonderful job of grounding Jackson’s work and influence in her time and makes a convincing case for why she deserves more recognition in the greater literary canon. I’m a total book nerd with an interest in the history of publishing, so I am loving the references to Sylvia Plath, Ralph Ellison, and other writing and publishing personalities of the era as well as the insights into Jackson’s life and work.

    *E-audiobook available via Hoopla*

    The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

    Stephanie says:
    This is a book about writing, but more than that. It is about the love of words, sentences. Anyone who loves books for the artform that they are, for more than mere entertainment, would enjoy this book. It was written to inspire, and it did. I wanted to write in the margins and highlight my favorite passages.
    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    I say:
    What a profound and moving book this is about death and about life. It’s beautifully written—I  have oodles of  passages saved in my Kindle highlights—and the author’s love of literature and his command of it permeates the entire book. One of my highlights (location 355) reads as follows: “Books became my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world.” With his own book, Kalanithi indeed provides a lens into the world, not only into his own life that ended far too soon but also a lens through which its readers can better understand their own hearts and minds.

    Stephanie says:
    Paul Kalanithi always wanted to be a writer; instead, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a doctor. I am sure many lives were saved by Kalaithi’s hands, but I mourn the loss of the writer. When simultaneously faced with death and new life, Kalanithi struggles with the one question we all struggle to answer; why are we here? And in my opinion, he answers it. Full of hope, full of wonder, Kalanitih will help you look at your world through a different perspective. A highly enjoyable read!

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Adult Fiction

    If 2015 was the Year of the Super Long Book, then 2016 was an extraordinary year for short little gems. Four of the books to make our 2016 list—Another Brooklyn, Eleven Hours, Margaret the First, and The Vegetarian—come in at under 200 pages, and News of the World is just a tiny bit longer. Of course it’s possible we were so exhausted from reading massive (but fabulous) tomes like 2015’s Fates & Furies, A God in Ruins, and A Little Life that we were simply more apt to enjoy the shorter books this past year. But honestly, I think several 2016 releases nailed the ability to pack a truly powerful story into a slim volume, and we loved it.

    In addition to these short-but-awesome reads, we also discovered some truly memorable, more average-length works across a variety of genres, including historical fiction, contemporary drama, and even romance. We were especially drawn to thrillers in this year’s deliberations, and the committee had a tough time limiting the number to make the final list. But ultimately, we’ve created a list of titles we feel lives up to the designation “Best of the Year.”

    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Beth, Assistant Branch Manager, Lebanon Junction Branch Library
    • Donna, Circulation Clerk (various locations)
    • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
    • Tanya, Circulation Clerk (various locations)
    • Tobee, Lebanon Junction Branch Manager
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer
    • Trish, Reference Services, Mt. Washington Branch Library
    All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

    Donna says:
    A suspenseful page turner!

    Trish says:
    I loved this book. There are so many twists and turns!

    Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    I say:
    Woodson, whether she is writing in verse or prose, can always be relied upon for her stunning imagery and use of language.

    Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

    Beth says:
    I LOVED this book! It has a great story, and I could not put it down!

    Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    I say:
    Patchett does a fantastic job of detailing the messiness of modern families.

    Donna says:
    I enjoyed this story as seen through the eyes of two families of children that are fused together through the dissolution of their own families and then joined by marriage. These children go through much chaos growing up, actually raising themselves. The bonds they form are lasting, and the stories they have to share are very eye opening and entertaining.

    Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens

    Tanya says:
    Heartbreaking and mesmerizing at the same time. It’s a beautiful, yet sad, portrayal of the emotions that different women can face during delivery. I read this in one night.

    The Fireman by Joe Hill

    I say:
    There were passages in The Fireman that were so visceral and beautifully put that they held me in thrall. I was listening to the audiobook, so I often scanned back on the CD just to hear them again. Easily one of my favorites of the year.

    Beth says:
    Fans of Stephen King may already know that Joe Hill is his son, and you will see many nods to King’s works in this riveting book. Hill’s work is getting progressively better—from Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, Hill seems to have found his niche and takes you on a ride you never want to end. The Fireman is a terrific read, with characters I cared about within the first 50 pages. Every time I put it down, I was burning to pick it up again to keep reading. The best book I’ve read all year!

    First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Tobee says:
    This is an excellent contemporary romance with well-developed characters. The plot is fast moving with several surprises, and the interactions between characters and their unique points of views pull you in immediately.

    Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    I say:
    Luminous. This sweeping saga begins in 18th-century Ghana and first follows two half sisters who are strangers to one another and then their descendants. While one sister’s line remains on the Gold Coast, the other sister is transported to America. The story of each generation feels like an intimate, powerful tale all on its own, but together they all fit into one beautifully perfect book. It’s a stunning debut and probably my favorite book of the year.

    I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

    Donna says:
    The book was a little slow for the first chapter or two, then it grabbed me with an iron fist! The plot is great, full of unexpected turns. I loved it. 5 stars!

    Trish says:
    When one of the reviewers said that they audibly gasped at one point while reading it I actually snorted. However, while reading this book one afternoon I gasped so hard that I dropped the book onto the ground. I highly recommend this book and I can honestly say that I loved it! Not one but TWO great twists!

    Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

    Stephanie says:
    To call Jane Steele a retelling of Jane Eyre is unfair. Although the heroines share more than just a first name, the books are very dissimilar. Where Jane Eyre sees no justice, Jane Steele revels in it. Where Jane Eyre seems a timid girl, Jane Steele is beyond bold. Even those who have never read Jane Eyre will enjoy Jane Steele, a thoroughly avant-garde anti-heroine.

    Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

    Stephanie says:
    Dutton’s fictional work paints a beautiful picture of a not-so-pleasant past. This historical work reads more like a contemporary novel, or maybe it’s just that “Mad Madge” was sooo ahead of her time.

    The Mothers by Brit Bennet

    Donna says:
    This is a story about a high school love where choices become lifelong consequences. It’s a story of two sides of a family, with two sides of emotions. It gives readers a lot to think about, and with the different viewpoints, I think the book offers something for everyone.

    News of the World by Paulette Jiles

    Tobee says:
    Very well written and interesting! In a western setting, just after the Civil War, an elderly ex-military man is taxed with the mission of delivering a ten-year-old Indian captive to her relatives. Captain Kidd and Johanna surmount numerous challenges and defy swollen rivers, outlaws, and the less-than-understanding attitudes of other people. The somewhat reluctant Captain and the half wild child become grandfather and granddaughter in a family bond that lasts the rest of their lives.

    The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

    Donna says:
    I highly recommend this one! It’s a story of a powerful love between a mother and daughter and how that love withstands the test of time, under extremely dysfunctional circumstances. It’s a very entertaining story illustrating how many children with single parents that are seeking “true love” eventually find themselves. 

    Tobee says:
    The characters are wonderfully portrayed in all their good and bad traits, and the plot is riveting. Sometimes I laughed and sometimes I wanted to cry, but I always wanted to know what was going to happen next!

    Redemption Road by John Hart

    Beth says:
    I LOVED this book! John Hart is such a wonderful storyteller. This is a really good crime story with a twisty plot and great characters.

    Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

    Donna says:
    There are parts of this book that are extremely hard to read or listen to, but it is so worth it. I loved it. This book really makes a person look at the world in a different way.

    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    I say:
    This creative reimagining of the Underground Railroad as a literal railroad did more to aid my understanding of the risks undertaken by fugitive slaves and the Railroad’s facilitators than anything I’ve read before. It’s a wonderfully written book, with some passages I will probably never forget. 

    The Vegetarian by Han King

    Tanya says:
    Not at all what I expected, but totally worth the read. I couldn’t put it down; it was that good, that surprising.

    The Widow by Fiona Barton

    Tanya says:
    What an excellent read! The book is experienced through the perspective of all the characters involved, plus there’s a plot twist I didn’t see coming at all.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Our Favorite Books for Teens

    From the fantastic world building of top-notch fantasies to historical dramas and gritty realistic fiction that left me stunned, 2016 was a fantastic year for young adult literature. I’ve laughed at clever repartee (Highly Illogical Behavior), I’ve been mesmerized by gorgeous storytelling (The Sun Is Also a Star), and I’ve been completely engrossed by not one but two stories featuring teenage killers (Scythe and The Female of the Species).

    And those are just some of the YA books I’ve read and loved over the past year. Our Best of 2016 list is a joint effort and includes a wide variety of fiction and a few standout nonfiction titles.

    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Brandy, Circulation Clerk
    • Crystal, Circulation Clerk
    • Elizabeth, Technology Support
    • Stephanie S., Reference Services, Hillview Branch Library
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

    Fiction

    Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

    I say:
    Well-developed, authentic characters and a unique setting make Burn Baby Burn one of my most memorable reads of 2016. The juxtaposition of the fear that permeated New York City during the Summer of Sam with Nora’s own troubled home life creates a sense of edgy urgency that pulled me into the story completely.

    The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

    Crystal says:
    This is a book that grabbed my interest with just the summary, and it definitely did not disappoint. Not only was the plot engaging, but the characters and setting really made me think.

    The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

    Crystal says:
    I loved the premise of this story from the beginning, and it was a very engaging read. The author’s ability to take such a dark topic like murder and shape the story in a way that demonstrates the characters’ maturity was quite fascinating for me.

    The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

    I say:
    A teenage killer who volunteers at an animal shelter, a preacher’s kid with her own secret rebellions, and a player who struggles with the fear that he really is a douchebag may seem like an unlikely trio of narrators, but Mindy McGinnis gives readers a gift with each of these characters. This is an unsettling, brutal book in many respects, but it’s also complex, riveting, and completely brilliant. 

    The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

    Elizabeth says:
     It grabbed me from the start! I had to find out why she was in the mental institution and if she was ever going to get out and come to terms with her past.  

    The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

    Elizabeth says: 
    This is such a great story about a girl drawn into the search for a missing Jewish girl during WWII. A story with mystery, betrayal, and heroism. 

    Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

    I say:
    I can’t say enough good things about this book! Unlike some of the other “award worthy” books of the year, Highly Illogical Behavior doesn’t feel like it’s actually trying to win an award, if you know what I mean. Instead, there’s an unselfconscious ease and wit, creating a highly readable story about mental illness, friendship, and taking chances. The characters are quirky and immensely likable despite their flaws, and Whaley has done a remarkable job of making the thoughts and fears of a teenage agoraphobe relatable.  Even better, he has created a fully rounded character with Sol that is so much more than the fear others use to define him.


    The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

    Elizabeth says:
    It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did I couldn’t wait to see how everything would play out!

    The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

    Crystal says:
    Intriguing and enlightening from start to finish, this book taught me a lot about a time in world history that I knew very little about. It was the kind of book that kept me guessing, and that definitely makes for a great reading experience.

    The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

    Crystal says:
    I listened to the audiobook and was instantly drawn back into the world of Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, thanks to her brilliant use of description and her enigmatic characters. This book perfectly completes the story that began in the first book and kept my interest from start to finish.

    Stephanie says:
    A good storyteller effortlessly compels you to experience the spectrum of emotion; I laughed, I cried, etc. This is true of Stiefvater, and especially true in The Raven King. The book grips you from the first sentence and doesn’t let you go. You will be on the edge of your seat until the end, and what an ending it will be.

    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    I say:
    I loved the different points of view and the fact that readers were given the perspectives of characters who are seldom represented in literature about World War II. Here we get a young Lithuanian nurse traveling with a group of refugees, a Prussian apprentice on a self-appointed mission, a determined fifteen-year-old Polish girl with a sad past, and a young Nazi who is staunchly loyal to Hitler’s propaganda, all on a journey to a doomed ship without knowing the greater danger that awaits. Sepetys does a remarkable job of bringing to life a historical event that deserves to be much better known.

    Elizabeth says:
    The story flowed easily and never lost my interest. I loved all the different points of view!

    Scythe by Neal Shusterman

    I say:
    Set in a world where humans are virtually immortal and ordained killers known as Scythes are used to keep overpopulation in check, this is a gripping sci-fi thriller that raises thought-provoking questions about morality and human nature. I can’t wait for the next two books in the planned trilogy!

    The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    I say:
    Nicola Yoon’s follow-up to Everything, Everything is an an intensely moving and thought-provoking journey from beginning to end. What is on the surface a meet-cute romance becomes so much more as questions of destiny and chance arise and underlying connections are unraveled.


    Nonfiction

    Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow

    Elizabeth says:
    Going into this book I had a very limited knowledge of the bubonic plague. It answered many of my questions and I found it interesting. I’ll never think of fleas the same again!
    March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell

    I say:
    I can’t believe I waited so long to start this series! March: Book Three deserves all the accolades it has been getting and more.

    Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling

    Brandy says:
    This book is abundantly full of pertinent and interesting facts.

    Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner

    I say:
    With fluid prose and the occasional snarky aside, this epic warrior tale reads like a novel while creating a fascinating (and often violent) picture of 12th century Japan and a man who became a legend.

    Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin

    I say:
    So much of World War II history focuses on the war itself, Hitler, and the European experience, but I have been fascinated by the Japanese-American experience during that time ever since I read John Okada’s No-No Boy as a college undergrad. With Uprooted, Marrin presents a well-researched, accessible account of a dark moment of American history that might also serve as a cautionary tale.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Our Favorite Books for Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

    From a shipwrecked robot story to the true tale of a child survivor of the Nagasaki bomb, our 2016 selections are all about variety. There’s the wonderful humor of The Best Man and the breathless intensity of The Plot to Kill Hitler. The heartwrenching beauty of Maybe a Fox, and the fun-filled adventure of Mighty Jack.

    We hope every reader of middle-grade fiction or nonfiction will discover a book they love among our Best of 2016 list. We sure did!

    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Allison, BCPL Outreach & Programming Supervisor
    • Cheryl, Assistant Branch Manager, Ridgway Memorial Library
    • Marianne, Reference Services, Ridgway Memorial Library
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer

    Fiction

    As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

    Allison says:
    Realistic characters, wonderfully developed. I am a fan of Reynolds, but I was worried since this is his first foray into middle-grade. He did a great job transitioning from YA; this was excellent.

    Marianne says:
    A nice story about city kids (brothers) and a slow-moving summer spent with Grandparents on a remote farm in Virginia. They learn about family, friendship, and consequences.

     

    The Best Man by Richard Peck

    Cheryl says:
    Hilarious and fast-paced, this story is told convincingly from a boy’s point of view. I laughed and laughed. I especially love the relationships Archer has with the four men in his life!

     

    Booked by Kwame Alexander

    I say:
    Anyone who loves words, books, or puns will be unable to resist Booked. It’s a fun and engaging read, a whirlwind of short poems that fit together to form the story of Nick’s eighth-grade experiences, from his parents’ breakup to soccer victories and his first crush. And who doesn’t love a story featuring a rapping librarian as a side character?

    Marianne says:
    I listened to the audiobook and was mesmerized by the style and rhythm of the poetry and enthralled with the story.

    Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

    I say:
    There were so many wonderful middle-grade novels in verse this past year, including Booked (a fellow 2016 Best Book) and Catching a Storyfish (which just missed the cut). What makes this one stand out for me is the stereotype-breaking hero. I also really enjoyed the tanka poetry style, along with Grimes’s explanation at the end of the book.

    Marianne says:
    A short and sweet coming-of-age story told in verse.

    Ghost by Jason Reynolds

    I say:
    Totally gripping from beginning to end. Reynolds covers so much in this relatively slim novel that clocks in at under 200 pages. The story feels both timeless and entirely modern. I am so excited that this is the beginning of a new series!

     

    Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

    I say:
    I really loved Raina Telgemeier’s portrayal of sisterhood in Sisters, and Ghosts is just as good, with the added benefit of…well, ghosts.

     

    The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, illus. by Hatem Aly

    Allison says:
    I couldn’t put it down. Went to bed intending to read a chapter or two. Ended up not going to sleep and finished it in one sitting. I didn’t want it to end. I like the Canterbury Tales feel of different narrators, always making it fresh. The tension was nail-biting. Can we say medal-worthy?

    The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

    Allison says:
    Powerful, inspiring, uplifting. I LOVED this one!

    Marianne says:
    I’m a big fat mom, so I had to overcome my horror at the two sisters who were abandoned and left in the care of an abusive “stepmother”…once I was able to set that aside, I really was fascinated at the imaginations of those two little girls.

    Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

    Allison says:
    I don’t cry reading books. Or watching sappy movies, or commercials. I bawled like a baby reading this. Which was even more problematic since I was reading it in public. This was gut-wrenchingly wonderful for me. If it doesn’t receive a Newbery, my faith in humanity is gone.

    Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

    Allison says:

    I really like this one, and the artwork is dramatically good. Is the next book in the series out yet??????

    Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

    Allison says:
    MOVING is not the word. I don’t generally like to read about someone’s struggle with disease, but this one drew me in. Realistic fiction is not usually something middle-grade authors do well, but this is amazing!

    Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by John Klassen

    I say:

    Pennypacker writes with an insightful lyricism that is simply stunning. Also, I love that Pax perceives and acts like a real fox, not a standard children’s book animal who thinks and acts more like a human.

    Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

    I say:
    Yet another standout middle-grade novel from two-time Newbery-winner Kate DiCamillo. The writing is crisp and energetic despite the quiet story. I adored Raymie and the quick, unexpected friendship she builds with her fellow baton-twirling students. There are so many small moments in this book to love.

    The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

    I say:
    Oh my goodness, the illustrations in this book! The design of the book is simply beautiful, as is the story. A wonderful mix of reflection and action, with short, punchy chapters to keep readers in thrall.

    Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

    Allison says:
    I like the setting, the description of the town, and the way Annabelle’s parents take to Toby. There’s a bit of  a To Kill a Mockingbird feel to the story and characterizations.

    Nonfiction

    Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illus. by Josée Masse

    Allison says:

    The illustrations are gorgeous, and I like the two narrator approach and the rhythmic flow of the poems, their arrangement in the collection. Some prior knowledge of Greek mythology might make it even more enjoyable, but the notes for those who aren’t into mythology are helpful.

    Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill, illus. by Frances Vallejo

    I say:
    The concept behind this book is so inventive! The illustrations are fantastic, and the (mostly) free-form poetry perfectly evokes the spirit of jazz music. Plus, the short bios and further reading suggestions in the back matter provide a path for those who wish to learn more.
    Allison says:
    I’m not usually a fan of poems, but this was neat. Each poem led to the next, adding up to tell the story of the gathering of the musicians from the photograph.

    The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero
    by Patricia McCormick

    Allison says:
    HOLY cow!! I loved this. Faced-paced nonfiction/biography that reads like awesome fiction? Who knew it was not only possible, but that the reader would forget it was nonfiction? This book definitely left me thinking and wondering,

    A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

    I say:
    Wonderful. Of all the spectacular poetic works I’ve read this year, this is the one that most stands out for me. It’s such a loving, fascinating tribute to Ezra Jack Keats and the impact of his work.

    Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

    I say:
    This is such a powerful book that puts a face on an under-examined moment in US-Japanese history and the longlasting consequences for Japanese survivors in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The story is very readable, and the book is laid out perfectly to provide age-appropriate context with informative sidebars, photographs, etc. Important, harrowing, and beautifully done.

    *Available on Hoopla*

    Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

    Allison says:
    FANTABULOUS!! The story flows from page to page, with bold artwork and personal commentary from White. This feels like you are sitting in someone’s living room looking at their—amazing!— personal scrapbook.

    The Way Things Work Now by David Macauley

    I say:
    I was so glad to see the late-90s classic guide updated to include the digital age! Curious kids who like building and technology or simply want to understand the way things work will love Macauley’s way of illustrating complex concepts. Engaging text and illustrations make it a joy to browse, or you can focus on whatever category interests you, from simple machines to digital devices and Wi-Fi,

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BEST OF 2016: Our Favorite Books for Young Readers

    Over the course of the last year, our Young Readers Committee read (and often reread) nearly 200 books on our longlist to identify those titles we believe to be the best 2016 had to offer for toddlers and preschool- and early-elementary-school-aged children. 
    The 2016 committee includes:

    • Allison, BCPL Outreach & Programming Supervisor
    • Angel, Children’s Outreach & Programming Library Specialist
    • Cheryl, Assistant Branch Manager, Ridgway Memorial Library
    • Monty, Circulation Clerk
    • Pam, Mt. Washington Branch Manager
    • Tracy (that’s me), BCPL Public Relations Coordinator & Committee Organizer
    It was tough narrowing down the finalists and we had plenty of disagreements along the way. For examples, I was unanimously overruled regarding Joyce Sidman’s Before Morning, and two of us adored Cynthia Rylant and Christian Robinson’s Little Penguins while others didn’t like it at all. But in the end, we’re very happy with our final selections. So without further ado, BCPL’s favorite 2016 books for young readers are:
    Picture Books – Fiction

    Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis

    I say:
    There’s a lot to like about this book, including the bold, digitally colored illustrations; multiple humorous scenes; and perfect lead-ins for important parent-child discussions on bullying, not being afraid to be honest with others, and finding your niche. Personally, I loved the expressiveness of the various jungle animals. The big-eyed frog is a favorite.

    Angel says:
    Love it! It’s a very cute book with great talking points about bullying. 

    Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

    I say:
    I love this one! It has a wonderful simplicity but has some stunningly effective nuances in the illustrations. The mostly red, black, and white pencil drawings with their sepia background are charming and elegant. The text and the illustrations work together perfectly to tell a story encouraging individuality, empathy, and imagination. Pre-readers could even enjoy the story through the pictures alone. One of my favorites.

    Allison says:
    I love the seemingly opposing themes and ideas that go hand in hand! Refreshingly simple example of children who might feel different or out-of-place who follow their gut instinct to be who they are. And the illustrations are SUPERB!

    A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor, illus. by Emily Hughes

    Pam says:
    Oh my! That little bear is the cutest. Do I like this story? Absolutely! It is a wonderful father/son story, beautifully illustrated.

    The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino

    Several of us were charmed by the amusing, authentic sibling relationships and the quirky illustrations and side characters. Allison is hoping for a story about the dragon with an interesting smirk, and I would love to know more about the mysterious mouse who quietly pops up in the background throughout the book. And the message is one we all love.

    Monty says:
    This is a fun read featuring many colorful illustrations. The story can help children realize that everyone has wonderful ideas that should be shared and that no matter what others may believe about your ideas, you should believe in yourself for nothing is impossible.

    Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

    Cheryl says:
    I love this book. How much fun you can have with a story that has a make believe language included. Awesome!

    Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty, illus. by Julia Sarcone-Roach

    I say:
    This is such a relatable story for anyone who comes from a large family or has overachieving siblings. Through the story of a dog named Ed who is determined to match the excellence of his loving family and enjoy the same privileges as the Ellis children (like sitting on the couch and eating at the table), readers can discover or talk about the things that make them excellent, even if they are less obvious than being a math whiz or a star athlete. The crayon and grease pencil illustrations are perfect for the story, conveying warmth,  movement, and Ed’s loyalty and mischievousness. And the final page is perfection.

    Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins

    Allison says:
    I love it! Vocabulary, school subjects, all related to the life of a dog. It’s humorous enough to keep an adult entertained, busy and visual for children.

    Monty says:
    This book shows a loving relationship between a boy and his dog and how they learn together. The illustrations are great and add much character to the story.

    I say:
    We’re cheating a little bit picking this one since it was originally published in 2015 in the UK, but its first US printing was in 2016. This cute story of a little boy playing hide-and-seek with an elephant is sure to elicit smiles all around. Little kids familiar with the game will get a giggle at the boy’s obliviousness and be proud of finding Elephant for themselves. There are also lots of fun details for observant kiddos (seriously, keep your eye on the dog), or perhaps the book can help kids who are less sharp-eyed to become more observant. As Allison pointed out in our deliberations, this one will encourage kids to look beyond the text and pay attention to visual cues and their own observances.

    Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski

    Cheryl says:
    I really enjoyed this book, and a child will identify with the story about a favorite toy. The imagination in the book is fun and it gives a happy feeling.

    Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illus. by Charles Santoso

    I say:
    This is a beautiful, heartbreaking story with nuance that still remains relatable for children. It’s blunt in places, but still appropriately gentle. I love the scenes illustrating that it is okay to still laugh, to be angry, or to want to be alone. The text is great for vocabulary building, and the writing does a fabulous job of capturing both the energy of the city and the intimacy of the characters’ friendship.

    Allison says:
    I like the gentle way that this story brings hope to struggle and grief. I like that Gus finds a way to move on, though he is sometimes troubled. This is a must for the list, if not for the beautiful yet simple illustrations, then for the gentle way the subject matter is handled.

    Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead

    I say:
    I really enjoyed the mixed-media style. The effect is somewhat reminiscent of Lois Elhert, though the tone and art are actually quite different. Conversational prose poetry addresses both the everyday and a few more elevated topics, like war. I particularly liked the war illustration where the bomb turns into a fish and the final image where Wednesday dreams of a blue squirrel that recalls a paint-splatter horse from earlier in the book. It’s an even, thoughtful story about imagination and creation and offers many interesting opportunities for discussion between children and their parents or educators.

    Allison says:
    This book seems so simple at first glance, and the mixed-media made me wince. I don’t generally enjoy the style, but this time it fits the seemingly disjointed, but oh-so-connected storyline. I think this book will encourage children to notice what is around them in a way that is all their own, and encourage them to discuss their thoughts. And, it isn’t often easy to discuss abstract thoughts with young children, but this book not only gives us an example, but instruction on how to start that process. LOVED IT!

    Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol

     Cheryl says:
    The story and illustrations are both great. And—SPOILER ALERT!—when she gets to the worm hole, you can whisper to the kids how she was completely alone.

    I say:
    Excellent comic timing, richly-colored illustrations, and a touch of the bizarre make this twist on a traditional folktale so much fun to read!

    Let’s Play! by Hervé Tullet

    I say:
    I LOVE these interactive picture books, and so does my 3-year-old niece. I bought her this one for Christmas, and she had me read it to her over and over, twice in one session before she would let me leave her house to go home! It was so much fun to see her enthusiasm and wonder as her actions seemingly affected the outcome of the next page. And in addition to being a great deal of fun to read together, the book is also wonderful for helping children with following directions and learning colors, counting, and other concepts, Let’s Play joins Press Here and Tap the Magic Tree on my list of interactive favorites. Za-za-ZOOM!

    Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
    by F. Isabel Campoy, illus. by Theresa Howell, Rafael Lopez

    I say:
    Brimming with exuberance and color, this visually stunning and inspirational story about creativity and community is based on a true story.

    Penguin Problems by John Jory, illus. by Lane Smith
    I say:

    There were lots of great penguin books this year, and even another book about a grumpy penguin. (We liked Claire Messer’s Grumpy Pants a lot too.) But this story is so perfectly paced and busting with humor, and Lane Smith’s illustrations are so expressive without extra clutter on the page, that I’m claiming this one as my favorite penguin book of the year.

    School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illus. by Christian Robinson

    I say:
    This a story of the first day of school from an entirely news perspective: the school’s! It will be a great first day of school or back to school read, especially for kids who are feeling a little self conscious. Plus, there are a few truly fantastic moments, such as the water fountain incident and School’s resulting embarrassment. 

    Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsey, illus. by Mark Fearing

    Allison says:
    This book reads like a how-to, while keeping a story behind the words. I love the asides, the rhythmic flow of the storyline, and the call to greatness in everyday life. There’s a good lesson in how we can think of the stereotypical version of things, and realize that sometimes reality is better than fiction. I also like the comic book feel; this one’s in my top 10.

    Pam says:
    I so enjoyed this book. The facial expressions of the sister and dog add humor to the story. Five stars, definitely! Smiles turn to laughter while reading this one.

    There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

    I say:
    This is a cute little adventure story that also helps build vocabulary and narrative skills. It’s extremely inventive in the way it unfolds, with lots of little details to ponder and discuss. There’s great use of dramatic effect and humor, and the shifting settings, colors, and moods are wonderful. Animal and nature lovers are sure to enjoy. Also, I like that although the protagonist is established as a boy, readers can easily imagine the protagonist to be a girl if they wish. One word of caution, though: There has been a bit of controversy over this one, with some readers expressing concern over stereotypical representations of native peoples due to the use of the word “tribe.” Whether you view the book’s kids as simply a group of primitive children or something else, you might want to be mindful of  possible connotations or questions,

    Angel says:
    I love the illustrations. I love that there are several talking points and the language used in named  each group of animals, I love that in the end, the main character finally finds his place.

    Pam says:
    This book is unique. It is different from the books I have been reading, the illustrations stand out. There is a softness to the pictures and yet they are so colorful.

    They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

    I say:
    This book is a wonderful, visual exploration of perspective and can do much to help children think about other’s points of view and their own perceptions. If you’re reading with a scientifically-minded kid, it can be a great jumping off point for talking to kids about how certain animals see differently (e.g., in black and white or through vibrations) than human or other animals. There’s been a lot of buzz about this one as a likely Caldecott contender.

    Cheryl says:
    This was a good story with a good rhythm. You can do hand claps along with it to make it more interactive and exciting. The illustrations are really good, too.

    This Is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
    I say:

    Ruzzier’s Two Mice was one of my favorites from our Best of 2015 list, and I like this one just as much if not more. With the minimal text and quietly quirky illustrations, the book has much more to offer than one would expect at first glance. Ruzzier’s characters are always unique—much like those of the beloved Dr. Seuss, though Ruzzier’s work is more far gentle and restrained. Sweet and offbeat, This It Not a Picture Book! is a wonderful picture book, from endpaper to endpaper (just pick it up and you’ll see what I mean).

    Monty says:
    This is a cute story perfect for teaching about reading and how it helps you learn new things.

    Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illus. by Yuyi Morales

    Allison says:
    The illustrations are superb! And even though the author is better known for wriiting for older readers, the book isn’t overly texty, instead focusing on the clues in the text and illustrations to make the points. I love the spirit of the character, and his yearning to be himself. The sky is the limit! 

    We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

    I say:
    I love the deadpan humor and visual cues Klassen uses in his hat books. This one shares many similarities with the other two wonderful books in the trilogy, but with a fun Western feel and a new moral. The result is a surprisingly sweet story about friendship and resisting temptation.

    Pam says:
    So much is expressed in so few words. There is only one hat, but two turtles. Klassen is able to resolve the issue in such a way that it brings out the true meaning of friendship.

    The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem Pangur Bán
    by Jo Bogart, illus. by William Smith and Sydney Smith


    I say:
    This is a quiet tale about easy companionship, working toward a goal, and subtle similarities. The white cat and his pursuit of knowledge helped the monk to find joy and purpose in his plain, dark room. The typography and illustrations are perfectly suited to the story, and the watercolor spread at the end is lovely. Younger children may not make all of the connections without adult guidance, but they will likely enjoy the cat’s adventures (unless—SPOILER ALERT!— they’re traumatized by the mouse’s capture).

    Picture Books – Nonfiction 

    Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic
    by Mara Rockliff, illus. by Iacopo Bruno

    I say:
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. This story has a great message and the text and illustrations work together to create drama and excitement. I love the colors and 3D paper-doll effect in the illustrations. Older readers will appreciate the back matter info.

    The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

    I say:
    This nonfiction/fiction hybrid does a great job of portraying the diversity and controlled chaos of a large airport without overwhelming. There’s a Where’s Waldo aspect in following the progress of  Monkey as well as hunting down funny additions to the scene, like the woman in the heavy parka and scarf and the characters dressed like the Wright Brothers. There’s lots of opportunity to talk about where they might be traveling to or from, or why they’re going. I liked how the calm recitation of info contrasted with the little sister’s moments of panic about Monkey (which might mirror a child’s anxiety about the airport).

    Cheryl says:
    I really liked this book. At first it can seem very busy, but then you begin to enjoy the details. I like that the pictures are telling several stories along with the informational aspects about an airport.

    Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

    I say:
    In 2015, we loved Sayre’s Raindrops Roll. The combination of real-life photography and poetic nature observation is just as enjoyable here.

    Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Meilo SoI say:
    This is a really well done true story about environmental awareness, scientific observation, and community activism. Inspiring, especially for kids who love stories about real kids who make a difference.

    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by R. Gregory Christie

    Pam says:
    The illustrations are beautiful. Each page is a beautiful work of art. They tell an emotional story. The rhyme scheme adds to the story. This was the life of a slave. It was a life that was repeated week after week. This was the rhythm of their life.

    Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, illus, by Eric Rohmann

    I say:
    Marvelous artwork creates an eerie, haunting picture that is echoed in the poetic text. Haunting, exciting, mysterious. Brilliant.
    *BCPL copies are on order*

    The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes retold by Duncan Tonatiuh

    I say:
    Tonatiuh’s stylized art is even more gorgeous and dynamic here than usual, probably because the flattened, Aztec-influenced illustrations are so perfectly suited to the story, a retelling of a Mesoamerican legend. The story itself is bittersweet—as so many legends are—but also very compelling and ultimately triumphant.

    *Available on Hoopla*

    Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist by Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

    I say:
    This is a wonderful true story to encourage children’s artistic aspirations and to promote understanding of  less traditionally “pretty” art styles. The book also does a fantastic job of dealing with sensitive issues with relatable language and expressions. And the illustrations are dynamic, bold, and perfectly reflective of the subject.

    Run for Your Life: Predators and Prey on the African Savanna by Lola M. Schaefer, illus. by Paul Miebel

    I say:
    This book is light on actual fact/detail except for the appendix-like end, but that is perfect for the short attention spans of toddlers. Yet the appendix helpfully provides the info older readers might be looking for or that parents may need to answer curious kiddos’ barrage of questions. I also like the illustration style and the rhythm of the text. Great for animal lovers.

    Angel says:
    This is a good book for learning about animals that live on the African Savanna. There are just enough facts that children can learn about the animals but not be overwhelmed with information.

    Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie

    Pam says:
    The question at the end—”What will we do with THEIR GREAT GIFT?”—really makes a person stop and think. What a wonderful conversation that could evolve from this book. Not only does it make you think about the cultural differences we see in each other, but it also reminds us that we have ancestors that went through the same sort of things.

    I say:
    This is a classic never-give-up story, only it’s true and about the inventor of a toy every kid is familiar with. That’s awesome right there, but the digital illustrations are also fantastic. Budding inventors will soak it up, from Lonnie’s childhood tinkering to his triumph with the Super Soaker. But the best part is the joy Lonnie consistently finds in creating and inventing, whether he’s commercially successful or not.


    Easy Readers

    Big Cat by Ethan Long

    Pam says:
    There is so much fun packed into this easy reader. The humor begins right from the start. Big Cat is willing to tolerate many things for the love of his family. Absolutely a good read!

    The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

    I say:
    Adorable. This book introduces new vocabulary through the context of synonyms so that kids can easily decipher the meanings, and it also teaches about math and sharing. There’s a great use of humor, with engaging text and standout illustrations. I’m loving this new Elephant & Piggie spin-off series!

    Clark the Shark: Lost and Found by Bruce Hale, illus. by Guy Francis

    Monty says:
    I enjoyed this beginning reader book and believe children will also. The story is cute and teaches the importance of listening and following directions. The illustrations are colorful and fun and add much to the story.

    Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon

    Allison says:
    This reminds me of Frog and Toad and their adventures. I like the illustrations, which will keep kids busy, as well as the way the text appears for beginning readers. There is a little vocabulary here as well, and concepts old and new to entice children.

    Get a Hit, Mo! by David A. Adler, illus. by Sam Ricks

    Cheryl says:
    This book is a really exciting beginner reader. It has all kinds of emotions in it and then a real good, feel good ending.

    Sky High: George Ferris’s Big Wheel by Monica Kulling, illus. by Gene Barretta

    Monty says:
    Everyone likes Ferris wheels and this tells the story of how the Ferris wheel was invented. The illustrations are very good. I believe early readers will enjoy this book.

    The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

    Cheryl says: 
    Come on, Mo Willems…nuff said! Great!

    The Way the Cookie Crumbled by Jody Jensen Shaffer, illus. by Kelly Kennedy

    I say:
    What a fantastic way to teach kids a little history while holding their interest and helping them strengthen reading skills. Slightly more advanced beginning readers who prefer nonfiction over fiction will get a kick out of this one!

    We Are Growing! by Laurie Keller

    Monty says:
    The personification of the grass with each blade having its own personality adds to the humor and will keep children’s attention along with the large repetitive words. This is a great beginning reader book!

    Early Chapter Books

    Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

    I say:
    I just love Dory and her big imagination. In her latest escapades, Dory struggles with the idea of reading since she’s always so busy making up her own stories. Her reluctance may be familiar to many kids, but her journey will have kids proud of using their own reading super power. I hope there will be many, many more in this series so I can buy them all for my niece when she’s ready for chapter books (assuming I can wait that long!).

    Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger & Cece Bell

    I say:
    Delightfully silly. This is a fun and funny chapter book with crowd-pleasing illustrations. Plus, it can serve as a great primer in using deductive reasoning.

    The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illus. by Matt Myers

    I say:
    This is a fantastic early chapter book for boys who pride themselves in being tough, though girls might enjoy too. The story makes good use of repetition and irony to keep the kids feeling confident and engaged. The book is especially strong in its realistic depiction of a sibling relationship—even if the characters are “hood” rats—and the author does a fabulous job of including hints of more serious family issues without making it the focus of the story. The illustrations compliment the text perfectly without distracting from it. 

    Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina

    I say:
    Abundant full-color illustrations are a welcome addition to this fun opener to a new series about a bright and energetic Colombian girl. This should be a hit with Judy Moody fans!

    Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme by Monica Brown. illus. by Angela Dominguez

    Cheryl says:
    Really a cute chapter book. It has Lola’s diary entries, which are cute and so true and full of drama for that age. The little brother is just what you would expect, annoying. 

    Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by Marla Frazee

    Angel says:
    As the story beings, Waylon experiences some big changes all at once, and he struggles to fit in with the most popular boy in school. This is a story children will be able to relate to.

    Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban, illus. by Katie Kath

    I say:
    This is a really, really good easy chapter book. It’s longer than some, but it’s broken down into easily digestible sections and chapters. There’s a great overarching theme about Max becoming accustomed to the new living situation, but each “weekend” section can stand on its own as well.  Although the reality of  divorce or separation lurks in the background, the story stays very upbeat and never feels issue driven. Laced with humor and the adventure to be found in everyday situations, this is a wonderful portrait of a loving and deepening relationship between a father and son.

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BCPL Patrons’ Favorite Books of 2016

    Our first staff-generated Best Books of 2016 list will be announced this Saturday, but first we’re sharing the books YOU loved over the past year. In December, we asked you to tell us your favorites from the last year, and the results are in!

    Patron Vote:
    Best Book for Young Readers

    We had fewer votes in this category than any other, and a couple of those had to be disqualified because they were not published in 2016. (One disqualified title, Daniel Miyares’s Float—one of our 2015 favorites—actually got multiple votes!) But when the votes were tallied, one book came out on top: Be a Friend by Salina Yoon, a lovely book about friendship and a boy who expresses his feelings through mime.


    Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for
    Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

    The middle-grade/tween vote came out close enough that we’re calling it a tie. One of the winners is the recent, latest installment of a highly popular series. The other is the latest from a beloved, award-winning author. In Jeff Kinney’s 11th Wimpy Kid novel, Double Down, Gregg Heffley faces parental pressures to expand his horizons beyond video games. And in Kate DiCamillo’s latest, Raymie Nightingale, ten-year-old Raymie Clarke feels the weight of her family on her shoulders as she prepares for the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant competition in hopes of bringing her absent father home.

    Patron Vote: Best Book for Teens
    Your favorite 2016 book for teens was clear. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater was the much-anticipated finale to a fantastic series. (We already added it—and the entire Raven Cycle series—to our Ultimate Teen Booklist.) Nothing else came close in votes, but other titles making a respectable showing include The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.



    Patron Vote:
    Best Book(s) for Adults

    Votes in the favorite book for adults category were a hodgepodge of bestsellers, with a few lesser-known works—like Blake Pierce’s indie mystery Before He Kills—thrown in for good measure. Not only was there no clear winner, there was not a single title to receive multiple votes! However, there does seem to be a pattern to the votes that were cast: nominated titles overwhelmingly fell into the mystery, suspense, and thriller categories, including Nora Roberts’s latest romantic suspense, the new David Baldacci, Jefferson Bass’s Without MercyClark and Burke’s The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and debut thriller The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña. Outliers include the literary saga Here I Am, westerns by William Johnstone, and the sole nominated nonfiction work, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.


    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BCPL Patrons’ Favorite Books of 2016

    Our first staff-generated Best Books of 2016 list will be announced this Saturday, but first we’re sharing the books YOU loved over the past year. In December, we asked you to tell us your favorites from the last year, and the results are in!

    Patron Vote:
    Best Book for Young Readers

    We had fewer votes in this category than any other, and a couple of those had to be disqualified because they were not published in 2016. (One disqualified title, Daniel Miyares’s Float—one of our 2015 favorites—actually got multiple votes!) But when the votes were tallied, one book came out on top: Be a Friend by Salina Yoon, a lovely book about friendship and a boy who expresses his feelings through mime.


    Patron Vote: Best Book(s) for
    Middle-Grade Readers/Tweens

    The middle-grade/tween vote came out close enough that we’re calling it a tie. One of the winners is the recent, latest installment of a highly popular series. The other is the latest from a beloved, award-winning author. In Jeff Kinney’s 11th Wimpy Kid novel, Double Down, Gregg Heffley faces parental pressures to expand his horizons beyond video games. And in Kate DiCamillo’s latest, Raymie Nightingale, ten-year-old Raymie Clarke feels the weight of her family on her shoulders as she prepares for the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant competition in hopes of bringing her absent father home.

    Patron Vote: Best Book for Teens
    Your favorite 2016 book for teens was clear. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater was the much-anticipated finale to a fantastic series. (We already added it—and the entire Raven Cycle series—to our Ultimate Teen Booklist.) Nothing else came close in votes, but other titles making a respectable showing include The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.



    Patron Vote:
    Best Book(s) for Adults

    Votes in the favorite book for adults category were a hodgepodge of bestsellers, with a few lesser-known works—like Blake Pierce’s indie mystery Before He Kills—thrown in for good measure. Not only was there no clear winner, there was not a single title to receive multiple votes! However, there does seem to be a pattern to the votes that were cast: nominated titles overwhelmingly fell into the mystery, suspense, and thriller categories, including Nora Roberts’s latest romantic suspense, the new David Baldacci, Jefferson Bass’s Without MercyClark and Burke’s The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and debut thriller The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña. Outliers include the literary saga Here I Am, westerns by William Johnstone, and the sole nominated nonfiction work, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.


    Source: Book News and Reviews

    Tracy’s Year in Reading

    Is has become our custom at BCPL to announce our Best Books of the year lists throughout the month of January. I know everyone else’s lists come out in December, but we figure in December most people are too distracted by holiday prep and recovery to pay much attention to our book lists. So we wait until the New Year, when readers are excited and ready to kick off their year by reading a great book (or two or three). (And honestly, the delay also gives us an opportunity to read and discover those late-year releases we might otherwise overlook.)


    Well, this year we are adding a new tradition. I am kicking off this year’s announcements with a retrospective on the various books I’ve read in 2016. Ever since I introduced BCPL’s Best of the Year lists here on Book News & Reviews in January 2012, I’ve always regretted not reflecting more on the titles that didn’t quite make the list, whether they were just edged out or didn’t even come close.

    So here’s my first annual Year in Reading. Some of the included titles will make the final Best of 2016 lists (care to guess which ones?) while others won’t. Regardless, each of these titles has made an impression on me in 2016!


    1 Weirdly compelling book that I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not:

    1. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    Seriously, this book is told from the perspective of a preternaturally intellectual unborn baby whose mother is having an affair and plotting the father’s murder. It’s fascinating in ways and completely ridiculous in others. But I was hooked.


    1 Book that made me tear up:
    1. Ida, Always by Caron Levis

    The Fault in Our Stars didn’t generate a single tear, but this bittersweet picture book definitely got to me.

    2 historical novels that taught me something I didn’t know:

    1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    2.  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    Of course, I studied the Civil War and World War II in school (I was even a history minor in college!), but I had very little knowledge about the inner workings of the underground railroad and the dangers not only to the passengers but also to the facilitators. And while the metaphorical railroad is actually a literal railroad in Whitehead’s novel, the experiences of Cora and her cohorts made the journey real to me in a way that other works could not.  As for Salt to the Sea, it still stuns me that the fate of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, the deadliest ship disaster in recorded history, isn’t better known.



    2 YA standards I FINALLY read:

    1. Song of the Lioness Quartet (series) by Tamara Pierce
    2. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

    Of course, neither of these is even eligible for the Best of 2016 lists, but I did get to mark them off my massive to-read list!





    2 Great books that realistically explore complex family dynamics: 

    1. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
    2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    A YA novel set during the Summer of Sam, Burn Baby Burn has a lot of layers, but what truly makes it stand out is the juxtaposition of the general sense of fear permeating New York City with Nora’s growing unease in her own home. And Patchett does a fantastic job of detailing the messiness of modern families.



    2 Love stories to feed my inner romantic:
    1. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    2. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Julia Quinn can always be counted on for a fluffy romantic romp. And I dare fans of YA realistic fiction not to inhale Nicola Yoon’s second novel.





    3 Nonfiction works that made me reflect on life and my beliefs from a new perspective:

    3. But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

    Annie Dillard can always be counted on for a offbeat perspective on seemingly everyday occurrences. She’s not for everyone, but her writing always leaves me in awe. 

    4 books perfect for my inner (or not so inner) bibliophile:

    1. Booked by Kwame Alexander
    2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    3. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
    4. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

    I’ve always loved books about writing or characters who love (or learn to love) books.


    4 YA fantasies that have me eager for the next installment:

    1. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tabir (Book 2 of an Ember in the Ashes)
    2. The Crown’s Game by Elvelyn Skye (Book 1 of The Crown’s Game)
    3. Red Queen & Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Books 1 & 2 of Red Queen)
    4. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (Book 1 of The Dark Artifices)

    I am most looking forward to the next Ember in the Ashes book, but I am curious to see how Cassandra Clare’s newest Shadowhunter series will develop as well. Book one was just so-so for me, but the series looks promising!

    4 Novels with beautiful writing:
    1. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
    2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
    3. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
    4. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Woodson, whether she is writing in verse or prose, can always be relied upon for her stunning imagery and use of language, and there were passages in The Fireman that were so visceral and beautifully put that they held me in thrall. I was listening to the audiobook, so I often scanned back on the CD just to hear them again. In Pax, Pennypacker often writes with a insightful lyricism that belies the fact that this novel is directed at a middle-grade audience. Nicola Yoon’s follow up to Everything, Everything is an intensely moving and thought-provoking journey from beginning to end.

    4 Memorable nonfiction works dealing with significant social and/or economic issues: 

    1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
    2. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips
    3. March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
    4. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jessmyn Ward

    In past years, I was captured by books like Behind the Beautiful Forevers, The Men We Reaped, Ghettoside, and Between the World and Me. These titles are all worthy follow ups for anyone who wants to be better informed about these issues.

    5 Audiobooks with fantastic narration:

    1. Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman. Read by Katherine Kellgren.
    2. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Read by Kate Lock.
    3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Read by Bahni Turpin.
    4. Find Her by Lisa Gardner. Read by Kirsten Potter.
    5. The Fireman by Joe Hill. Read by Kate Mulgrew.

    Seriously, I’d listen to a treatise on wood lice if Katherine Kellgren was reading it.


    5 Super-short reads for adult readers without a lot of time:

    1. Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
    2. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    3. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaVelle
    4. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stroud

    5. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    Some of these I loved, and others were just okay for me. But I am completely okay with that since the time investment was minimal.


    5 Super-fast reads for reluctant middle-grade readers:

    1. Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
    2. Booked by Kwame Alexander
    3. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
    4. The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
    5. The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

    Garvey’s Choice and Booked are both novels in verse, and Ghosts and The Nameless City are graphic novels. As for the fifth choice, MacLachlan has delivered another slim novel that manages to pack in a full, emotionally engaging story.


    5 Twisty thrillers:

    1. Find Her by Lisa Gardner
    2. The Widow by Fiona Barton
    3. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

    4. All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
    5. Redemption Road by John Hart

    2016 was a fantastic year for thrillers and suspense novels. There are tons more I still want to read.


    9 picture books with fantastic illustrations:

    1. Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead
    2. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
    3. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
    4. There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
    5. The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

    6. The Animal’s Ark by Marianne Dubuc
    7. Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

    8. Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure
    9. Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Hermann, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff

    I liked some books better than others as a whole, but the illustrations are all wonderful. Each has something different to offer—from the fantastically nuanced illustrations of The Airport Book to Dubuc’s soft colored-pencil sketches to the dynamic 3D illustrations of Anything but Ordinary Addie.


    So that’s just a snapshot of some of the books I’ve read this year, though there are plenty I’ve forgotten or chosen not to include in this retrospective. And off course I didn’t get to everything I’d have liked to read—not even close—but all in all, I have to say it was a great year of books and stories. How was your year in reading?

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    Tracy’s Year in Reading

    Is has become our custom at BCPL to announce our Best Books of the year lists throughout the month of January. I know everyone else’s lists come out in December, but we figure in December most people are too distracted by holiday prep and recovery to pay much attention to our book lists. So we wait until the New Year, when readers are excited and ready to kick off their year by reading a great book (or two or three). (And honestly, the delay also gives us an opportunity to read and discover those late-year releases we might otherwise overlook.)


    Well, this year we are adding a new tradition. I am kicking off this year’s announcements with a retrospective on the various books I’ve read in 2016. Ever since I introduced BCPL’s Best of the Year lists here on Book News & Reviews in January 2012, I’ve always regretted not reflecting more on the titles that didn’t quite make the list, whether they were just edged out or didn’t even come close.

    So here’s my first annual Year in Reading. Some of the included titles will make the final Best of 2016 lists (care to guess which ones?) while others won’t. Regardless, each of these titles has made an impression on me in 2016!


    1 Weirdly compelling book that I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not:

    1. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    Seriously, this book is told from the perspective of a preternaturally intellectual unborn baby whose mother is having an affair and plotting the father’s murder. It’s fascinating in ways and completely ridiculous in others. But I was hooked.


    1 Book that made me tear up:
    1. Ida, Always by Caron Levis

    The Fault in Our Stars didn’t generate a single tear, but this bittersweet picture book definitely got to me.

    2 historical novels that taught me something I didn’t know:

    1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    2.  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

    Of course, I studied the Civil War and World War II in school (I was even a history minor in college!), but I had very little knowledge about the inner workings of the underground railroad and the dangers not only to the passengers but also to the facilitators. And while the metaphorical railroad is actually a literal railroad in Whitehead’s novel, the experiences of Cora and her cohorts made the journey real to me in a way that other works could not.  As for Salt to the Sea, it still stuns me that the fate of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, the deadliest ship disaster in recorded history, isn’t better known.



    2 YA standards I FINALLY read:

    1. Song of the Lioness Quartet (series) by Tamara Pierce
    2. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

    Of course, neither of these is even eligible for the Best of 2016 lists, but I did get to mark them off my massive to-read list!





    2 Great books that realistically explore complex family dynamics: 

    1. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
    2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    A YA novel set during the Summer of Sam, Burn Baby Burn has a lot of layers, but what truly makes it stand out is the juxtaposition of the general sense of fear permeating New York City with Nora’s growing unease in her own home. And Patchett does a fantastic job of detailing the messiness of modern families.



    2 Love stories to feed my inner romantic:
    1. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    2. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Julia Quinn can always be counted on for a fluffy romantic romp. And I dare fans of YA realistic fiction not to inhale Nicola Yoon’s second novel.





    3 Nonfiction works that made me reflect on life and my beliefs from a new perspective:

    3. But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

    Annie Dillard can always be counted on for a offbeat perspective on seemingly everyday occurrences. She’s not for everyone, but her writing always leaves me in awe. 

    4 books perfect for my inner (or not so inner) bibliophile:

    1. Booked by Kwame Alexander
    2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    3. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
    4. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

    I’ve always loved books about writing or characters who love (or learn to love) books.


    4 YA fantasies that have me eager for the next installment:

    1. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tabir (Book 2 of an Ember in the Ashes)
    2. The Crown’s Game by Elvelyn Skye (Book 1 of The Crown’s Game)
    3. Red Queen & Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Books 1 & 2 of Red Queen)
    4. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (Book 1 of The Dark Artifices)

    I am most looking forward to the next Ember in the Ashes book, but I am curious to see how Cassandra Clare’s newest Shadowhunter series will develop as well. Book one was just so-so for me, but the series looks promising!

    4 Novels with beautiful writing:
    1. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
    2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
    3. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
    4. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

    Woodson, whether she is writing in verse or prose, can always be relied upon for her stunning imagery and use of language, and there were passages in The Fireman that were so visceral and beautifully put that they held me in thrall. I was listening to the audiobook, so I often scanned back on the CD just to hear them again. In Pax, Pennypacker often writes with a insightful lyricism that belies the fact that this novel is directed at a middle-grade audience. Nicola Yoon’s follow up to Everything, Everything is an intensely moving and thought-provoking journey from beginning to end.

    4 Memorable nonfiction works dealing with significant social and/or economic issues: 

    1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
    2. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips
    3. March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
    4. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jessmyn Ward

    In past years, I was captured by books like Behind the Beautiful Forevers, The Men We Reaped, Ghettoside, and Between the World and Me. These titles are all worthy follow ups for anyone who wants to be better informed about these issues.

    5 Audiobooks with fantastic narration:

    1. Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman. Read by Katherine Kellgren.
    2. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Read by Kate Lock.
    3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Read by Bahni Turpin.
    4. Find Her by Lisa Gardner. Read by Kirsten Potter.
    5. The Fireman by Joe Hill. Read by Kate Mulgrew.

    Seriously, I’d listen to a treatise on wood lice if Katherine Kellgren was reading it.


    5 Super-short reads for adult readers without a lot of time:

    1. Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
    2. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    3. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaVelle
    4. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stroud

    5. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    Some of these I loved, and others were just okay for me. But I am completely okay with that since the time investment was minimal.


    5 Super-fast reads for reluctant middle-grade readers:

    1. Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
    2. Booked by Kwame Alexander
    3. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
    4. The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
    5. The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

    Garvey’s Choice and Booked are both novels in verse, and Ghosts and The Nameless City are graphic novels. As for the fifth choice, MacLachlan has delivered another slim novel that manages to pack in a full, emotionally engaging story.


    5 Twisty thrillers:

    1. Find Her by Lisa Gardner
    2. The Widow by Fiona Barton
    3. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

    4. All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
    5. Redemption Road by John Hart

    2016 was a fantastic year for thrillers and suspense novels. There are tons more I still want to read.


    9 picture books with fantastic illustrations:

    1. Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead
    2. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
    3. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
    4. There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
    5. The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

    6. The Animal’s Ark by Marianne Dubuc
    7. Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

    8. Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure
    9. Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Hermann, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff

    I liked some books better than others as a whole, but the illustrations are all wonderful. Each has something different to offer—from the fantastically nuanced illustrations of The Airport Book to Dubuc’s soft colored-pencil sketches to the dynamic 3D illustrations of Anything but Ordinary Addie.


    So that’s just a snapshot of some of the books I’ve read this year, though there are plenty I’ve forgotten or chosen not to include in this retrospective. And off course I didn’t get to everything I’d have liked to read—not even close—but all in all, I have to say it was a great year of books and stories. How was your year in reading?

    Source: Book News and Reviews

    FALL GIVEAWAY 2016

    It’s fall giveaway time again!

    Our selection of Advance Reader copies (ARCs) is small this time around, but there’s still plenty to be excited about! For example, anyone who loved last year’s YA bestseller All the Bright Places will be clamoring for an early copy of Jennifer Niven’s latest, Holding Up the Universe.


    As always, the rules of entry are at the end of the post. Please note that all prizes must be picked up at a BCPL location within two months of notification, or the unclaimed ARCs will be returned to the stockpile for the next giveaway. The contest runs through the end of Wednesday, November 16th. No entries will be accepted after midnight.

    So without further ado, here are our giveaways for Fall 2016:


    And I Darken by Kiersten White
    Conqueror’s Saga #1
    *ARC – Released June 2016 *
    In this first book in a trilogy a girl child is born to Vlad Dracula, in Transylvania, in 1435–at first rejected by her father and always ignored by her mother, she will grow up to be Lada Dragwlya, a vicious and brutal princess, destined to rule and destroy her enemies.–NoveList

    Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
     *ARC – Released January 2016 *
    When her university professor father is sent by the Gestapo to a concentration camp, seven-year-old Anna travels the Polish countryside with the mysterious Swallow Man during World War II.–NoveList

    Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
     *ARC – Released May 2016 *
    When a scholarship girl and a wealthy classmate become friends, their bond is tested when a handsome young teacher separately influences the girls in order to further his less-than-admirable interests. –NoveList
    Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
    The Reckoners #3
     *ARC – Released February 2016 *

    David and the Reckoners must face the most powerful High Epic of all to find redemption for his closest friend, Prof. –NoveList

    The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
     
    *ARC – Released April 2016 *
    When her father dies, Tessa is pulled back to the small Pennsylvania town where her life came apart when her father was sent to prison, her mother went to pieces, and her beloved older sister ran away, and where her testimony and that of her now-estranged friend Callie sent a serial killer to death row–a serial killer who may be getting a new trial as long buried secrets come to light.  –NoveList

    Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
     *ARC – Released August 2016 *

    As she struggles to recover and survive, seventeen-year-old homeless Charlotte “Charlie” Davis cuts herself to dull the pain of abandonment and abuse.–NoveList

    Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
     *ARC – Released October 2016 *

    “A boy with face blindness and a girl who struggles with weight fall in love” –NoveList

    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
     *ARC – Released November 2015 *

    Sent to America at age nine with nothing but an old guitar, Frankie Presto achieves success on the mid-twentieth-century music scene before becoming overburdened by his ability to affect people’s futures through his music. –NoveList

    Open a World of Possible edited by Lois Bridges
     *Trade Paperback *

    In a series of essays and stories, celebrated literacy experts, language researchers, librarians, children’s authors, and poets share their own real stories about the joys and power of reading.


    Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
    *ARC – Released April 2016 *
    Sixteen-year old Jessie, still grieving over her mother’s death, must move from Chicago to “The Valley,” with a new stepfamily but no new friends until an anonymous fellow student emails and offers to help her navigate the school’s treacherous social waters–NoveList

    A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
     *ARC – Released May 2016 *

    “Hannah and Sam are each searching for The One– but over the summer, a series of hilarious misunderstandings prevent them from realizing that they’re It for one another”- –NoveList


    Rules of Entry


    1. To enter the drawing, you must log in to the Rafflecopter Widget below with your e-mail address or Facebook account and click on “Leave a comment on this blog post.”

    Entry Task #1
     First, you must leave a comment at the bottom of this post stating which titles you would like to receive. To do so, you will need to click on the “Post a Comment” link below the Rafflecopter widget. If you do not leave a comment at the bottom of the post, I will not know which prize(s) to give you if you win the drawing. You may choose as many titles as you like; you are not guaranteed to win your top choices, but I do my best. 

    Entry Task #2 Second, you must Answer the confirmation question and click on “ENTER” at the bottom of the widget only after you have posted your comment as described in Entry Task #1 . After completing the first widget task, you can also earn bonus entries by following the directions in the widget.


    2.  All ARCs must be picked up at a Bullitt County Public Library location. Contest ends at the end of the day on Wednesday, November 16th.Winners will be notified via e-mail and will be posted on this blog no later than Tuesday, November 22nd. Winners will have up to two months from the time of notification to collect their prizes. If items have not been picked up at the end of this period or if I have not been contacted to request an alternative arrangement, unclaimed prizes will be retained for future giveaways.

    Good luck!



    a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BCPL’s Ultimate Teen Booklist

    Let the Teen Read Week celebrations commence! Teen Read Week 2016 officially began this past Sunday and continues through Saturday, October 15th. As has become our tradition here at BCPL, our celebration features the latest updates to our Ultimate Teen Booklist. After making a ton of new additions last year, this year, we’ve made a point of cleaning house and removing titles that we no longer feel merit inclusion. This may be because we feel the book has become dated; because we think there there is a newer, very similar book that is even better; or because we’ve just lost our enthusiasm for a particular title.

    That’s not to say we don’t have a few new titles we are excited to add! We’ve evaluated over 40 books for possible inclusion this season, and that’s not even counting the books we read before our committee season began. But to keep the list from getting too out of control, we’ve made extra efforts to be super selective this year while keeping our eye out for awesome books we’ve overlooked in the past as well as recent favorites we believe have the power to endure. We’ve also worked to round out our current list with a few more nonfiction titles.


    So without further ado, here are the latest additions to our Ultimate Teen Booklist:

    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawamba (2009)
    This is the highly readable story of a young Malawian teenager who, unable to afford the tuition to attend school, taught himself the principles of physics and electricity from books borrowed from the local elementary school—and then used that knowledge to build a windmill that provided his family with light, heat, and running water. Yet this book is about much more than building a windmill. It contains elements of magic as Kamkwamba relates the folklore and superstitions of his culture, and it touches on many of the troubles in modern Africa without becoming overwhelming or preachy. It’s about inspiring a community and making a difference. Kamkwamba’s story is one of ingenuity, perseverance, and hope, and the easy, conversational style of this book makes the life in a poor African farm family seem both relatable and fascinating. A young reader edition is also available, but most teens should be comfortable with the original version. Middle School/High School.

    The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (2015)
    Joan Skraggs is tired of being undervalued by her father and brothers for the backbreaking work she puts in day after day. Life is hard on a 1911 Pennsylvania farm, and 14-year-old Joan’s only respite is found in the books she loves. Then Joan decides she’s finally had enough of being unappreciated, unpaid labor and decides to get a post in the city as a hired girl. Under a fake name and lying about her age, Joan lucks into a position in the home of a wealthy Jewish family. Everything in her new world is foreign and utterly fascinating, and Joan soon finds herself making mistake after mistake—from setting her hair on fire to crushing on one of her employers’ sons—even as she grows from a naïve country girl to a capable young woman. Told through a series of diary entries, this is a warm and thought-provoking story, laced with humor. Joan’s voice is fresh and hilariously candid, sure to appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed characters like Anne Shirley, Jo March, or Jane Eyre. Middle School (mature)/High School.

    Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (2005)
    Rather than focusing on Hitler himself, this well-rounded history considers the children and teens who pledged their loyalty to Hitler and their motivations for doing so. While some of the youths became disillusioned by Hitler’s ideals as they grew older, others remained steadfastly obedient to their Führer, often despite familial disapproval or their own consciences. Through the stories of twelve Hitler Youth members, Bartoletti  provides a terrifying picture of how Hitler was able to gain such unchecked power and blind devotion while offering a fascinating look at the young people who grew up during his reign. Middle School/High School.

    Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2005)
    After enduring five years of terror and abuse, Alice believes her only escape from her captor is death. And now that she is fifteen, Alice half hopes that Ray will finally take that final step and kill her. But Ray has another idea: he wants Alice to help him select and train his next victim. With spare, lyrical prose, Scott weaves an intensely disturbing tale that promises no safe or easy answers. High School (mature).

    Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawls with Ali Benjamin (2014)
    Paige was in sixth grade when she learned that she had HIV. Although she was born HIV positive, it didn’t really affect her life in ways she was aware of until she told a friend about her diagnosis and rumors began to spread. From that point, Paige became the target of relentless bullying. This is the inspiring and revelatory story of how she coped with the bullying and the challenges of living with HIV into adulthood. Middle School /High School.

    Raven Cycle (series) by Maggie Stiefvater (2012–2016)
    Blue is an outsider. She comes from a family of clairvoyants but has no psychic abilities herself; instead, her presence acts as an amplifier for others’ gifts. Like most of the Henrietta locals, Blue wants nothing to do with the stuck-up Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy, but then she meets Gansey, whose fate seems tied to Blue and a deadly curse. Despite her better judgment and fear of the curse, Blue joins Gansey and his group of boys’ school misfits in their quest to unravel a mystical mystery involving an ancient Welsh king. Mystery, heartbreak, friendship, betrayal, and moral dilemmas emerge in the first book only to intensify further as the series continues. Lush, descriptive prose; complex characters; and a multi-layered, imaginative plot create a leisurely-paced but riveting series that succeeds in seamlessly combining magic with contemporary social issues. High School.

    This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki (2014)

    Bittersweet and brilliantly paced, this coming-of-age graphic novel centers on a young teen’s summer vacation, during which she finds herself drawn to an older boy and depressed by the strain in her parents’ marriage. Mariko Tamaki’s illustrations wonderfully convey Rose’s frustrations, anxiety, and heartbreaks, and the images are full of life and movement. Middle School (mature)/High School.






    Updated:
    Giver Quartet (series) by Lois Lowry (1993–2012)
    The Giver has been included on our list since the beginning, but now we feel it is time to round out the story of Jonas and the Community by including the full series. We’ve added Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son to the list!
    Source: Book News and Reviews

    BCPL’s Ultimate Teen Booklist

    Let the Teen Read Week celebrations commence! Teen Read Week 2016 officially began this past Sunday and continues through Saturday, October 15th. As has become our tradition here at BCPL, our celebration features the latest updates to our Ultimate Teen Booklist. After making a ton of new additions last year, this year, we’ve made a point of cleaning house and removing titles that we no longer feel merit inclusion. This may be because we feel the book has become dated; because we think there there is a newer, very similar book that is even better; or because we’ve just lost our enthusiasm for a particular title.

    That’s not to say we don’t have a few new titles we are excited to add! We’ve evaluated over 40 books for possible inclusion this season, and that’s not even counting the books we read before our committee season began. But to keep the list from getting too out of control, we’ve made extra efforts to be super selective this year while keeping our eye out for awesome books we’ve overlooked in the past as well as recent favorites we believe have the power to endure. We’ve also worked to round out our current list with a few more nonfiction titles.


    So without further ado, here are the latest additions to our Ultimate Teen Booklist:

    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawamba (2009)
    This is the highly readable story of a young Malawian teenager who, unable to afford the tuition to attend school, taught himself the principles of physics and electricity from books borrowed from the local elementary school—and then used that knowledge to build a windmill that provided his family with light, heat, and running water. Yet this book is about much more than building a windmill. It contains elements of magic as Kamkwamba relates the folklore and superstitions of his culture, and it touches on many of the troubles in modern Africa without becoming overwhelming or preachy. It’s about inspiring a community and making a difference. Kamkwamba’s story is one of ingenuity, perseverance, and hope, and the easy, conversational style of this book makes the life in a poor African farm family seem both relatable and fascinating. A young reader edition is also available, but most teens should be comfortable with the original version. Middle School/High School.

    The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (2015)
    Joan Skraggs is tired of being undervalued by her father and brothers for the backbreaking work she puts in day after day. Life is hard on a 1911 Pennsylvania farm, and 14-year-old Joan’s only respite is found in the books she loves. Then Joan decides she’s finally had enough of being unappreciated, unpaid labor and decides to get a post in the city as a hired girl. Under a fake name and lying about her age, Joan lucks into a position in the home of a wealthy Jewish family. Everything in her new world is foreign and utterly fascinating, and Joan soon finds herself making mistake after mistake—from setting her hair on fire to crushing on one of her employers’ sons—even as she grows from a naïve country girl to a capable young woman. Told through a series of diary entries, this is a warm and thought-provoking story, laced with humor. Joan’s voice is fresh and hilariously candid, sure to appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed characters like Anne Shirley, Jo March, or Jane Eyre. Middle School (mature)/High School.

    Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (2005)
    Rather than focusing on Hitler himself, this well-rounded history considers the children and teens who pledged their loyalty to Hitler and their motivations for doing so. While some of the youths became disillusioned by Hitler’s ideals as they grew older, others remained steadfastly obedient to their Führer, often despite familial disapproval or their own consciences. Through the stories of twelve Hitler Youth members, Bartoletti  provides a terrifying picture of how Hitler was able to gain such unchecked power and blind devotion while offering a fascinating look at the young people who grew up during his reign. Middle School/High School.

    Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2005)
    After enduring five years of terror and abuse, Alice believes her only escape from her captor is death. And now that she is fifteen, Alice half hopes that Ray will finally take that final step and kill her. But Ray has another idea: he wants Alice to help him select and train his next victim. With spare, lyrical prose, Scott weaves an intensely disturbing tale that promises no safe or easy answers. High School (mature).

    Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawls with Ali Benjamin (2014)
    Paige was in sixth grade when she learned that she had HIV. Although she was born HIV positive, it didn’t really affect her life in ways she was aware of until she told a friend about her diagnosis and rumors began to spread. From that point, Paige became the target of relentless bullying. This is the inspiring and revelatory story of how she coped with the bullying and the challenges of living with HIV into adulthood. Middle School /High School.

    Raven Cycle (series) by Maggie Stiefvater (2012–2016)
    Blue is an outsider. She comes from a family of clairvoyants but has no psychic abilities herself; instead, her presence acts as an amplifier for others’ gifts. Like most of the Henrietta locals, Blue wants nothing to do with the stuck-up Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy, but then she meets Gansey, whose fate seems tied to Blue and a deadly curse. Despite her better judgment and fear of the curse, Blue joins Gansey and his group of boys’ school misfits in their quest to unravel a mystical mystery involving an ancient Welsh king. Mystery, heartbreak, friendship, betrayal, and moral dilemmas emerge in the first book only to intensify further as the series continues. Lush, descriptive prose; complex characters; and a multi-layered, imaginative plot create a leisurely-paced but riveting series that succeeds in seamlessly combining magic with contemporary social issues. High School.

    This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki (2014)

    Bittersweet and brilliantly paced, this coming-of-age graphic novel centers on a young teen’s summer vacation, during which she finds herself drawn to an older boy and depressed by the strain in her parents’ marriage. Mariko Tamaki’s illustrations wonderfully convey Rose’s frustrations, anxiety, and heartbreaks, and the images are full of life and movement. Middle School (mature)/High School.






    Updated:
    Giver Quartet (series) by Lois Lowry (1993–2012)
    The Giver has been included on our list since the beginning, but now we feel it is time to round out the story of Jonas and the Community by including the full series. We’ve added Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son to the list!
    Source: Book News and Reviews

    SUMMER READING 2016: 5 Guest Reviews from Tweens & Teens

    Summer Reading is on! We’re having a great summer at BCPL with events ranging from fitness activities to a lab with the Kentucky Science Center to awesome magic shows. But the heart of Summer Reading will always be books and reading.

    And we’re so excited with the response we are receiving from the participants in our 2016 Reading Challenges. Here are just a few of the book reviews we’ve received so far; more will be posted here over the month to come. Thanks to all of our guest reviewers for sharing!

    How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson
    Reviewer: Tyler W., Age 10
    Tyler’s Rating: 3/5 Stars
    Genre: Graphic Novel/Mystery
    Audience: Tween/Teen

    Tyler’s Summary & Review:  A boy and his mom move into a mansion only to find out weird things keep happening. It’s ok. Kind of a long book.

    Quarterback Sneak by Jake Maddox
    Reviewer: Tyler W., Age 10
    Tyler’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
    Genre: Realistic Fiction/Sports Fiction
    Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

    Tyler’s Summary & Review:  A quarterbacks suddenly starts acting very strange, which puts the team in major jeopardy.I enjoyed this book, I can relate to one of the characters because he wants to help his team. I also have a passion for football.

    Wonder by R.J. Palacio
    Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
    Katelynn’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
    Genre: Realistic Fiction/School Story
    Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

    Katelynn’s Summary & Review:  A boy has a facial disease and has a hard time “fitting in” at school and out of school. I am here to tell you that I really think you should read this book. First, the book makes me feel like I’m in the story experiencing what is going on. Next, the book has really good detail to make me imagine everything that is going on. Last, the book has a really good story behind that and it has a good plot. That is why you should read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Enjoy!?

    EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: I couldn’t agree more with Katelynn’s rating and review! I loved this book back when I read it, hence its inclusion on our Best of 2012 book list for middle grade and tween readers and my whining over its exclusion from the 2013 Youth Media Awards. Here’s my brief overview from one of our Book Picks lists:

    Ten-year-old Auggie was born with extreme facial abnormalities. When he was younger, he used to wear a space helmet all the time just to hide from the stares. Now Auggie—homeschooled all his life—is ready to come out of hiding and is set to begin fifth grade at a private Manhattan middle school. Heartbreaking, funny, and simply wonderful in every way, Wonder is a must-read for book lovers of all ages. Ages 8 and up



    Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield
    Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
    Katelynn’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
    Genre: Animal Fantasy
    Audience: Middle Grade

    Katelynn’s Summary & Review: A zebra and other animals get captured and have to train to be gladiators. Once they train, they have to fight to earn their freedom.

    I think you should read the book Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield. First, this book has some great facts about the Romans and other things. Next, the book has really great humor. Last, the book has a lot of feeling in it. That is why I think you should read the book Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield.

    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
    Reviewer: Kaylee F., Age 12
    Kaylee’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
    Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
    Audience: Teen/Young Adult

    Kaylee’s Summary & Review: The storyline is about a girl named Bella Swan and when she moves in with her dad at the town of Forks. I thought this book was a great start to an amazing series.The story itself was great because it explained how Bella felt at all times in amazing words and vocabulary. I loved the characters a lot because they all were a big part of an amazing story. I loved the setting because when the author wrote to explain the setting she made it feel like I was actually looking at it myself. I just enjoyed this book so much I couldn’t even put it down. You should really read this book and fall in love with it just as I did.

    EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: As Kaylee says, this book is compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down and read the entire book (about 500 pages) in a single night. I have a few issues with the book (Edward’s stalker tendencies, for one), but nothing that prevented me from staying up till about 6:00 in the morning until I finished!

    Are you interested in submitting a guest review? Use the submission form on our website to share your thoughts (positive, negative, or in between) about your latest read. And remember: eligible BCPL patrons earn an entry in our Summer Reading Grand Prize Drawing for each review they submit!