Friday, March 16, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Imagine living in a world where beauty is created by someone else, where everyone's default is being ugly. Imagine being one of the only people in the world with the power to make anyone beautiful, with the cost of never being able to fall in love or live past your forties.

This is the world Camellia's been born into, and for her it is not enough to simply be a Belle; she must be the Favorite--the Belle assigned to the palace. However, the palace has its own dangers: a princess who has been in a coma for years, her younger sister who wants power and physical changes that will test Camellia's strength, and a secret plot that will change everything.

Dhonielle Clayton creates a remarkable world, perfect for fans of the Uglies series or The Selection. This book starts off a little slow, but it lays the groundwork really well for a sequel--and I, for one, am excited to see what will happen next!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Giant Days

Giant Days is a comic series created and written by John Allison, with illustrations by Max Sarkin. Giant Days takes place in England, and starts with the story of three university freshmen sharing a dorm.

It's funny and weird and a good mix of charming/silly and sometimes horrifying. We have quite a few volumes of it. Check one out today!

Friday, March 2, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Malagash by Joey Comeau

Recently, Malagash won an Alex Award, which is an award for the best Adult Books for Teens. It is a useful category (YA is not all-encompassing, and there are books that are amazing for teenagers in the "adult" canon as well as ones that are not--a guide is helpful).

 If you do not know Joey Comeau's work, which is likely or at the least plausible, he was one of the two creators of the webcomic A Softer World--the comic is now over, but people still use the format for fan art for other things. He also wrote some of the Bravest Warrior comics, and many other things, all of which could be considered notable but not many of which could necessarily be considered "well-known." I was glad to see Malagash get noticed.

Anyway, Malagash, the place, is a town on the north shore of Nova Scotia, several miles north of where we are in Marshfield. It is the place that Sunday's parents are from, and they've returned there now because her father is dying of cancer and wants to die where he grew up. Her family is devastated, but Sunday has a plan. She starts recording everything her father says, so that she can write a computer virus that will say his words and think his thoughts, and live secretly on the hard drives of millions of people all over the world. It is not as good as a father, sure, but in this virus he can live forever.

It is a weird, small book about family and what gets remembered and how to process grief and how to hack computers. Our library copy just came in!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Have you HEARD about the Throne of Glass book series by Sarah J. Maas?

When I first started reading it, I was skeptical: how can one book about an assassin competing with other assassins be so long? Why are there so many books? Why are they so popular?

...and then I tried reading one. And then the second. And the third. I'm currently on the fourth book (Queen of Shadows). There are set to be seven books in the series, not counting the prequels.

The series starts out with a simple enough premise: Celaena is an expert assassin who is freed from a harsh desert prison in order to be trained as the prince's champion in an Hunger Games-style competition that could win her her freedom. Then, suddenly, what seems simple becomes complex: someone is sabotaging the competition. Meanwhile, Celaena is falling in love, the kingdom is in turmoil, and suddenly a rebellion is afoot.

Celaena is a really likeable (and imperfect) heroine, in addition to being a total badass. The world starts out fairly small, and opens up with each book until suddenly you get witches and wyverns and fae in ADDITION to excellent battle scenes and kingdom intrigue.

If you liked the Hunger Games series or the Red Queen series or Game of Thrones, Throne of Glass will be the perfect series for you! Don't let the size of the books scare you: even though they're big, they're a fast and fun read.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

YA Picks of the Week: Youth Media Awards 2018!

As you may or may not know, the Youth Media Awards were this week!

The Youth Media Awards are a GIANT award festival at the American Library Association's Midwinter conference. They can dramatically impact the lives of the writers (and illustrators) who win! They're also a lot of fun.

Here are some of the winners:

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
We Are Okay is the story of Marin, a college freshman dealing with loss and her first love. It's a really quiet and beautiful story that is also a pretty quick read. 
William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give just keeps winning awards! It's Angie Thomas's debut: the story of a girl who witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend and comes forward about it. It's written in a way that's never boring and that really helps to put a face to the #blacklivesmatter movement and police brutality. We keep ordering more copies and they're always checked out, but it's worth placing a hold for it!

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young AdultsVincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo is a fascinating take on Vincent Van Gogh's relationship with his brother. It reads like a novel!
Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience: Little & Lion, written by Brandy Colbert, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group Inc. and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, published by Farrar Straus Giroux for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group.
Little and Lion is the story of Suzette's relationship with her stepbrother Lionel, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder just before she went away to boarding school. Its also the story of Suzette coming to terms with having fallen in love with her roommate at boarding school and the aftermath. It's also at least five different stories in one wonderfully complex novel. The book has great representation: Suzette is black and identifies as Jewish, and the supporting cast is really diverse. 

The 57 Bus is a true story: on a bus ride home in 2013, a young man sets a classmate on fire. The book gets more complex than that: the young man setting the fire is black, and the classmate--who identifies as agender--is white. Not only is this a book about a crime, but it also gets into the complexities of gender and identity. It's a hard read but a really interesting one. 

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences:
Teen: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House.
Julia gets expelled from her school for the deaf because she spray paints a graffiti mural on the school and has to go to normal school as the only deaf student--how does she cope? More graffiti! I haven't read this one, but it sounds really wonderful, and critics have compared it to Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda and More Happy Than Not--so I can only imagine that it'll be a good read!

We either have or soon will have all of the winners! This list doesn't even begin to cover the Honor Books--a post for another day. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

YA Pick of the Week:Hawkeye: Kate Bishop: Vol. 1: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson, illustrated by Leonardo Romero

Kate Bishop moves to LA to try to find her father, and ends up investigating a lot more than she bargained for.

I recently read this comic and LOVED it. Even though it references the Young Avengers and Jessica Jones, you don't need to really know much about either to jump right in. Kate's an incredibly likeable heroine, and her friends are weird and cool and totally devoted to her. Without giving too much away, the villain plot is surprising and felt unique, even as it ended with a cliffhanger.

We just ordered Volumes 2 & 3, so read this one to get a headstart!

Monday, January 29, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Imagine for a moment that you're in a world where humanity has successfully gained control over diseases, over accidents, even over human acts of violence. In this world, you could be immortal. In fact, the only way you could be killed is by a Scythe: a person whose sole purpose is the service of ending people's lives, keeping population numbers manageable.

In Scythe, the first book in the Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Shusterman, Citra and Rowan have both been asked to apprentice to a Scythe. At the end of their apprenticeship, one of them will be sworn into scythedom. The other one will be killed by the victor.

The idea of humans defeating death is a startling premise, and the book keeps its momentum going throughout. Neither Citra nor Rowan want to become a Scythe, nor do they want to kill anyone. All they want is the one thing they no longer can have: a normal life. Scythe moves at a fast clip and successfully builds a very clear world very quickly. While there's a suggestion of romance in it, it is not centered around romantic love at all: it is quite solidly an action book centered around death and big moral questions. It's really hard to find teen books that do not have a romance at the core; it was a really refreshing change!

If you liked The Giver, The Uglies, The Hunger Games, or Feed, you might really enjoy this book! Its sequel, Thunderhead, recently came out, and will be on our shelves soon! Get a headstart and read Scythe today!

Friday, January 19, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

The pitch: Have you ever wondered what might have happened were you to have simply made one different choice? 

Jane, an eighteen year old college freshman, lives a mostly ordinary life with her Aunt Magnolia, a talented wildlife photographer. Then, one day, Aunt Magnolia dies, and Jane is left adrift to deal with a promise that she made to her aunt before her death: to visit Tu Reviens (an extravagant island mansion) if she is ever invited. Unsurprisingly, she is invited. Surprisingly, this book gives you five different paths that you (and Jane) can take. In some, Jane goes to different worlds, while in others, she is in grave peril, and in all, she leads a somewhat remarkable life.

What I liked about this book: each ending builds upon the last, so you gain a more complete picture of the world of Tu Reviens each time. No matter what changes, certain things stay the same: I find it a delightful proposition that, no matter what you choose, no matter how extraordinary, you might be drawn to the same person, the same art, the same sort of life, and Kristin Cashore does a really good job of playing up the things that stay the same even with greatly diverging paths. Jane is an interesting and brave protagonist, and you stay invested throughout five completely different narratives.

It's a very strange and dreamy book, and it is like nothing that I have ever read before (and there is a very cute dog!).

Kristin Cashore also wrote the Graceling Trilogy, and while that series is nothing like this book, I would also highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January Teen Reads

I've been a little behind in posting my top picks of the week--blame it on a new year, or a new blog, or whatever you like. Anyway, here are some of our most exciting teen reads coming your way at Ventress this January:

  • Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined To Meet edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout, with stories by Sara Shepard, Katie Cotugno, Julie Murphy, Nina La Cour, Nicola Yoon, and many more!
    • This anthology of short "how they met" stories by popular teen authors is completely charming, swoon-worthy, and surprisingly innovative! There are subway missed connections, twitter comment meet-ups, teens hiding from the police at a house party gone wrong, and twists on a reality dating show, to name only a few! It's a really delightfully fun read, and a great to chance to visit or re-visit some fantastic teen authors.
  • Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
    • Jane Sinner, currently expelled high school senior, joins a community college Real World/Big Brother style reality show while trying to complete her high school credits at the local community college. If you like Daria-esque narrators, diary entries, reality tv, or characters struggling with outrageous drama, this is the book for you!
  • Cruel Prince by Holly Black
    • Jude is seven years old when her parents are murdered and she and her sisters are taken away to live in the High Court of Fairie. As a seventeen year old, she wants nothing more than to truly belong in the court, no matter what it costs. Holly Black is a master of contemporary fantasy, and this book combines the struggles of a teenage girl with the schemes, plots and battles of any fantasy drama. There is romance in this book but the focus is nearly always more on the court's intrigues and alliances. I was really surprised by this book and couldn't recommend it more highly!
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
    • Maya Aziz is a normal American-born Muslim teen facing the challenges of a traditional family versus her film school dreams--until a terrorist with her last name commits a horrific crime, and her family is thrown into a much-unwanted spotlight. This #ownvoices debut is a really important addition to any library, but more than that, it's a really interesting story of a girl who just wants to follow her dream and keeps having roadblocks thrown in her way. 
We've got plenty more books where these came from-- so don't hesitate to stop by and ask for a book rec!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Watch this space: we'll be posting info about teen events, hot new book releases, and other trends that the library and our T.A.B. are excited about! 

Coming soon: Teen Pick Thursdays!

We will be posting our favorite pick of the week for teens. We also LOVE suggestions so if you have any recommendations please feel free to email