The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones is Namina Forna’s debut young adult novel and the first in her new West-African inspired fantasy series entitled Deathless. As someone who loves elegantly crafted epic fantasy worlds, The Gilded Ones did not disappoint!

Deka is a mix of emotions. As a sixteen-year old, she is now eligible for the blood ceremony that will determine whether or not she will become a member of her village. This ceremony fills her with both fear and anticipation because if her blood runs gold, she will be forced out. Gold blood means that you are impure and the consequences of that are worse than death.

The day of the ceremony arrives. When it is Deka’s turn, she is stunned to see that her blood runs gold. Deemed impure, Deka’s life is effectively over. A mysterious woman shows up in her village offering Deka a choice: stay in her village and succumb to her fate or leave and fight in an army of girls just like her. These girls are called alaki. They are near immortals who have a myriad of rare gifts. The only ones who can stop the biggest threat to the empire.

Deka decides to leave the village and travel with this mystery woman to the capital to begin her training. The minute she reaches the walled city, Deka realizes that not everything is as simple as it’s made out to be. Nobody is quite who they say they are, including Deja herself.

 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Published in 2019, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow has lived on my to-read shelf for much too long. Deciding to read it based on my love of Harrow’s 2020 book The Once and Future Witches, I was not disappointed. The Ten Thousand Doors of January contains many elements that I enjoy: magical realism, fantasy, antiquities, multiverses, books, and strong-willed women.

January Scaller just wants to find her place in the world. Growing up as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January grew up roaming multiple sprawling mansions filled to the brim with peculiar and mysterious treasures. Her father travels the world hunting antiquities to add to Mr. Locke’s collection and as a result, he is seldom home with January. Mr. Locke treats her as well as can be expected, but January never quite fits in. She is instead largely ignored, while simultaneously given fancy clothes and is groomed as yet another piece of his collection. She feels out of place and just wants to find where she truly belongs. Mr. Locke treats her as a precious treasure to be trotted out in front of his rich friends. He can mold her into whatever he wants. January and her father become increasingly separated from each other, leaving January to feel imprisoned in this sprawling mansion and longing to see her father.

One day while January is looking around the rooms, she finds a strange book. The more she reads the book, the more she begins to see that there are other worlds out there full of breathtaking impossibilities. It tells the story of secret doors hidden everywhere that lead to other worlds full of danger, love, and adventure. One story has a deep pull on January. It becomes increasingly difficult for January to separate herself from the book as that one story has woven itself deep into her life.

This book is also available in the following format:

Key Changes: Gen Z Hitmakers

I don’t know about you, but I’m hugely vulnerable to earworms: those songs that stick in your head and just never leave. Now, I fall squarely in the “millennial” camp, but in my experience lately, there are some Generation Z (born 1995-2015) pop artists that are making really catchy songs that spread like wildfire on social media and everyone finds themselves singing. Here are three top-rated Gen Z artists whose new albums we’ve recently purchased for the library, full of new earworms for you to love and hate – you’re welcome!

Billie Eilish became iconic for her oversized fashion and green-and-black hair alongside her homemade, whisper-sung tracks. I always found her work atmospheric and spooky, leaning into the dark side of humanity and growing up. For her new album, Happier than Ever, Eilish has changed her image to blonde hair and a nude color palette – but her softly sung, otherworldly musical style and lightly cynical lyrics remain largely unchanged. You might have heard her hit song Bad Guy from debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? This time around, watch out for Therefore I Am, which has a similar sound but revolves around defying bullies and haters.

Tones and I, AKA Toni Watson of Australia, rocketed to fame on the song Dance Monkey in 2019. Like Billie Eilish, she has a unique vocal sound, which in her iconic track is paired with danceable beats (evidence: the song is my favorite from the game Just Dance 2021). Dance Monkey was released on the 6-song EP The Kids Are Coming in late 2019. The new album, Welcome to the Madhouse, may have grown in scope as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: Watson added 5 more songs and took extra time to do most of the production work herself. According to critics, the songs on this album are Watson being really vulnerable and exploring her mental health and the cruelty of haters, through clever lyrics and strong vocals.

This last entry was added to our collection a few months back, but it’s too popular not to be mentioned in this group. Olivia Rodrigo was originally known for her acting work on Disney shows, including High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but with the release of her smash hit album Sour, her fame has definitely shifted. The earworm (for me, anyway) in this case is Good 4 U, an energetic and danceable take on the anger after a breakup, especially when an ex-partner moves on quickly. The album as a whole is very centered on the teenage experience, especially falling in (and out of) love: the other popular track is Driver’s License, about getting a license but losing a partner. Guaranteed to knock around your brain for a while, this is not an album to miss – even if you’re not a teenager anymore.

This is My America by Kim Johnson

My latest read is a dive into racial injustices in the American justice system, albeit a fictionalized account. Kim Johnson has written a young adult novel examining mass incarceration and the affect it has on families. This is My America is a necessary read from the perspective of the families of those incarcerated.

Tracy Beaumont is seventeen. Her father is on death row. He only has 267 days left. He has been on death row for seven years and Tracy is angry. Every week, and sometimes every day, Tracy writes letters to Innocence X. She is hopeful that the organization will be able to help get her father off death row and discover who really committed the crime for which he was sent to prison. Tracy is growing increasingly desperate, willing to do whatever it takes to get Innocence X’s attention, so when her older brother Jamal and their whole family is invited for a television interview showcasing his athletic talents, Tracy has to decide if she will potentially ruin his opportunity by talking about her father’s plight.

Tracy doesn’t know what to do. Just when she thinks things can’t get worse, the unthinkable happens. Police swarm their house in the middle of the night and fighting off flashbacks to the night when her dad was arrested, Tracy and her mom discover that they are there to arrest her brother. In an instant, Jamal switches from a promising young track star with college plans to a thug accused of killing a white girl. Jamal is on the run. Tracy and her family find themselves living in a nightmare. Working hard to free her father and figuring out what actually happened the night of Jamal’s alleged crime, Tracy soon discovers who she can actually trust. As she starts investigating what happened between Jamal and the murdered woman, Angela, down at the Pike, Tracy uncovers a dark racist history in the town that may relate to what happened that night. By proving her brother’s innocence, Tracy may inadvertently destroy her relationships with the people in her life.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson is the master of soul searching young adult fiction. Her first young adult novel, Allegedly, was published in 2017. This novel is based on a story that was in the headlines years ago that caught the author’s attention.

Allegedly tells the story of Mary B. Addison. She killed a baby. Allegedly. After the police were called and she was brought in for an interview, Mary didn’t say much. In fact, she didn’t talk. Mary’s situation was very much a trial by media. Since little was being said about the circumstances surrounding the baby’s death, the media drew their own conclusions. A white baby had died while under the care of a black woman and her daughter. The woman went to church while her daughter was only nine-years old. Mary went to trial. The public and the media had all but convicted Mary of the crime and the jury sentenced her.

Mary was sent to baby jail for six years before being placed in a group home. She never came out and said what actually happened, so her fellow prisoners and jailers all treated her as if she was guilty. The group home is bad. Mary lives in a state of constant fear and the other girls who live there constantly torment her. The women in charge of the home degrade the girls and treat them badly.

The only bright spot in her life is Ted. Since Mary is in a group home, she is able to leave for certain things: one of them being her assignment to work at a nursing home. It is at that nursing home that she meets Ted. He sees her for who she really is: a young woman in desperate need for kindness. Ted also doesn’t know Mary’s dark past and she isn’t quite sure when, or even if, she should tell him until she discovers that she is pregnant. With the state threatening to take away her baby, Mary needs to get the truth out about what happened the night the baby died. She won’t lose her baby over something that she didn’t do. In order to prove her innocence, Mary has to fight. She also has to get her Momma to tell the truth.

You see, no one but Mary knows the real Momma. Momma puts up a huge front and since the baby died, she has been born again. She has written out the nasty story of what Mary did and is working to start anew. Mary must get her to acknowledge the truth of what happened that night if she has any hope of keeping her baby and staying with Ted.

This book is also available in the following formats:

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Young adult fiction hardly ever fails me. When I need a pick-me up read, I can generally find one in the young adult section with little effort. My latest read came recommended by another librarian, so I knew I would most likely enjoy it and it didn’t disappoint!

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is so many things: a romance, an underdog story, friends becoming lovers, but most of all it is full of yearning. Liz Lighty has grown up believing that she is never enough. She’s awkward, poor, black, and doesn’t fit in with the rich and prom-obsessed kids who go to her high school. Liz isn’t what people expect her to be in her tiny midwestern town of Campbell, Indiana, but she has always known that she has an escape. Liz plans on getting out of this super small town to attend Pennington College to play in their orchestra. Eventually she wants to become a doctor in order to treat patients who have the same life-threatening condition that killed her mom and is ravaging her younger brother.

Liz’s senior year is sailing by and the world finally seems to be on her side. All of that comes crashing down when Liz learns that the financial aid and scholarship she was depending on in order to go to college falls through. She is $10,000 short and has no idea how she will get the money to cover the cost and let her keep her Pennington hopes alive. Knowing that her grandparents would sell their house to support her, Liz is desperate to find a solution on her own.

The solution she finds? She must win prom queen. Why? Her school awards a scholarship to the prom king and queen. The very last thing that Liz wants to do is campaign to be prom queen, but with no other options, she reluctantly turns to her friends to help her win. Her high school’s competition for prom court is elaborate: full of mandatory public events, social media popularity, and fellow contestants willing to do whatever it takes to sabotage Liz so they will win. With her friends by her side, Liz struggles to get over her fear of being the center of attention in order to get herself to Pennington.

At the first prom meeting, Liz meets a new student who rocks her whole world. Mack does not fit into the cookie cutter mold that Campbell tries to put their students in: she’s hilarious, smart, and different enough to repeatedly catch Liz’s eye. The only downfall to Liz is that she is also running for queen. The closer the two get, the more Mack wonders if their relationship will keep her from getting to Pennington. What is she willing to risk?

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book Club @ Night – ‘The Sun is Also a Star’ on December 9th

It’s time for a new book club! On the second Wednesday of the month through December 2020, Book Club @ Night is meeting at 6:30pm to talk about young adult books!

On Wednesday, December 9th, Book Club @ Night will be discussing The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Information about how to join is below.

Using GoTo Meeting, patrons will be able to meet to talk about a new book with one of our librarians. Book club books available at the Eastern Avenue Library.

Curious what The Sun is Also a Star is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

Two teens–Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica–cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives–Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica–and fall in love.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book Club @ Night
Wed, Dec 9, 2020 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (CST)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/171122357

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 171-122-357

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/171122357

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas is a young adult author whose breakout book, The Hate U Give , won many awards and was made into a major motion picture. That gut-wrenching novel discussed topics of police brutality and systemic racism in a timely and much needed way. Her subsequent novel, On The Come Up, was widely anticipated and pushes the narrative even more.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas is the story of a young woman working hard to pursue her dreams. Bri wants to be a rapper. Not just any rapper though, she has dreams of becoming one of the greatest rappers of all time. Bri’s father was an underground hip hop legend named Lawless who was killed right before he made it big. Growing up hearing all the stories about her dad, but not having many memories of her own, Bri wants to make it big and be her own person. She doesn’t want to be known as Lil Law forever.

With the help and support of her aunt, Bri goes to the ring to rap battle and gain some popularity. Her aunt is even able to get her studio time to record her first song. When her first song is released, Bri is excited. She spoke from her heart when she wrote that song and can’t wait for people to actually understand more about her life. But when the song goes viral and the media picks it up, Bri discovers that it’s gaining popularity for all the wrong reasons. Now that she’s being made out to be a menace and is the center of controversy, Bri is uncomfortable with what others are saying. When her family’s financial situation grows even more dire, Bri realizes that the only way to help is to become a rap star as fast as she can. It’s not just something she wants to do, Bri HAS to make it. Her family’s livelihood depends on her.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book Club @ Night – ‘A Very Large Expanse of Sea’ by Tahereh Mafi on November 18

It’s time for a new book club! On the second Wednesday of the month through December 2020, Book Club @ Night is meeting at 6:30pm to talk about young adult books!

The November meeting will not take place on November 11 as the library is closed on that day in observance of Veterans Day. The November program will meet instead on November 18.

On Wednesday, November 18th, Book Club @ Night will be discussing A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. Information about how to join is below.

Using GoTo Meeting, patrons will be able to meet to talk about a new book with one of our librarians. Book club books available at the Eastern Avenue Library.

Curious what A Very Large Expanse of Sea is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments–even the physical violence–she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her–they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds–and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book Club @ Night
Wed, Nov 18, 2020 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (CST)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/188604317

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (408) 650-3123

Access Code: 188-604-317

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/188604317

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Some of my favorite books to read when I’m searching for hope, yearning for positive thoughts, and trying to find a purpose are young adult books. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo was my latest young adult read that gave me a glimpse into another life. This book focuses on family, friends, love, and the struggle to figure out your future.

Emoni Santiago is a teen mom. Pregnant with her daughter during her freshman year of high school, Emoni works hard to overcome the judgment she faces from strangers and her fellow students. Knowing that she has to provide for Emma, Emoni does whatever needs to be done to help support her daughter and her abuela. Her life is stressful, but Emoni is grateful for what she has.

When she needs a break, Emoni heads to the kitchen and whips up some magic. She is able to look at ingredients and know what will fit well together. Whenever she shares her food with others, Emoni knows that it makes them think of memories, of home, of long-lost family and friends. As much as she would love to become a professional chef, Emoni knows that her family must come first. Now a senior in high school, she is struggling to figure out what to do with her future. Her counselor, friends, and family have all been asking what she wants to do.

Hoping to push her in the right direction, her counselor tells her she should take the new Culinary Arts class. Emoni is beyond excited. Once she starts cooking in that class, she lets her talent free and has to deal with the consequences. Her dreams of working as a chef are so close she can almost taste it.

This book is also available in the following formats: