New Voices in Teen Fiction

It’s always exciting to discover new books and authors and, as usual, some of the freshest voices can be found in young adult publishing.   Here are three recent debut novels you should know about:

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Twins Tyler and Marvin have always been close, but lately Tyler has been increasingly secretive and running with a new crowd.  When a party is broken up first by gunshots and then the police Marvin figures Tyler will make his own way home, but as the next day comes and goes and Tyler is still missing Marvin begins to fear the worst.  Searching the neighborhood only raises more questions, and Marvin starts to wonder how much he really knew his brother.  With sympathetic characters and an all-too-familiar premise, this speaks to the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement.  A great read-alike for fans of The Hate U Give. Continue reading “New Voices in Teen Fiction”

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Books for Children and Teens by Latinx Authors

Hispanic Heritage month, running from September 15 to October 15, is an annual celebration of the rich cultures and traditions of people living in the United States who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  There has been a very welcome increase in books written by and for the Latinx community in the past several years, which is helping to fill a long-standing publishing gap.  Here are a few of our recent favorites:

In Dreamers author Yuyi Morales recounts her experience moving from Mexico to the United States with her young son.  It was on one hand a typical journey as they navigate a new city and learn English, but unusual in that Morales gives equal attention to how being bilingual also shaped and enhanced their creative journey.  Mexican motifs and Spanish words are integrated into the inviting pages of this inspirational story.  For ages 4-8. Continue reading “Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Books for Children and Teens by Latinx Authors”

Banned Books Week September 23-29

Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of all the books that have been challenged and banned during the previous year.  In 2017, there were 416 reports of challenges or outright bans in libraries and schools.  Here are the Top Ten Most Challenged Books from the previous year, including the reasons for the challenges or bans provided by ALA:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide. Continue reading “Banned Books Week September 23-29”

New Voices in Young Adult Literature

It’s always exciting to discover new books and authors and, as usual, some of the freshest voices can be found in young adult publishing.   Here are three debut titles that have quickly become librarian favorites around here.

Melissa Albert writes with an authority that belies her status as a first-time author in the deliciously creepy The Hazel Wood.  Bad luck has followed Alice every one of her 17 years and no matter how many times she and her mother, Ella, move to a new town, disaster always catches up.  When Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of the cult fairy-tale classic Tales of the Hinterland, dies it seems their luck has finally turned.  But bad things continue to lurk around the edges of their lives and it isn’t long before Ella goes missing.  All signs of the abduction point to the The Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s rundown impenetrable estate.  Dark, eerie, and deeply atmospheric, author Melissa Albert mines the darker side of fairy tales in this unsettling Continue reading “New Voices in Young Adult Literature”

Novellas: Small Commitment, Big Payoff

What is a novella, exactly?   If you start poking around for definitions you will find a wide range of conflicting criteria (mostly surrounding word count) but what it really comes down to is that a novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.  They are found in every genre and are a great choice for readers who want a satisfying read but are either pressed for time or not quite ready to commit to a 700-page doorstopper.

What I like best about novellas is the precision of the writing. Authors who write novellas, and do it well, can build an entire world in pages, sometimes just paragraphs, setting the tone and the foundation for stories that are as economical as they are affecting.  Here are some outstanding novellas, all of which clock it at fewer than 200 pages:

In All Systems Red, a security droid hacks its own governing module, watches interstellar soap operas, and reluctantly does just enough work to avoid detection by the Company and the humans it is hired to protect.  While generally disdainful of humanity, it remains troubled by evidence in its memory bank suggesting it played a part in a massacre in which many lives were lost.  Winner of multiple awards, this is the first in the humorous, thoughtful and compulsively readable Murderbot Diaries series. Continue reading “Novellas: Small Commitment, Big Payoff”