What to Read for a Readathon

24 in 48 readathon

This is exactly as heavy as it looks! TBR stands for To Be Read and mine is varied and mostly fun fluff. The dots on my sweater and all the writing was done in the Litsy app, which is like Instagram and GoodReads had an adorable baby that’s impossible to put down.

Even if you’ve never heard the term before in your entire life, you can probably infer what a readathon actually is. It’s a glorious time where you pledge to read for a certain amount of time on a particular day or days. Participants are encouraged to take to their social media streams to share what they’re reading, favorite quotes, beverages they’re consuming to help get them through any reading slumps, etc. I’ll be participating in the 24 in 48 Readathon this weekend, which just means that in the 48 hours of Saturday & Sunday I will read for 24 of them. I can break it up however I like, and break it up I shall.

While it’s true I’ve never participated in a readathon before, I have researched enough to (hopefully) know what I’m doing. The key to everything, I’m told, is to have a variety of reading material at hand so if I start to get burnt out on one format I can switch it up and give myself a second wind. With that in mind, I present to you some stellar examples of each preferred readathon format.

Graphic Novels
You already know about my love of comics and graphic novels. As I reported last month I had a giant stack of single issue comic books at home that I just hadn’t gotten around to reading. I’m happy to say I have plowed through most of them, but some of the larger story arcs and single release graphic novels remain. Nimona is on the very top of the list, partially due to Alan’s recommendation last year and also since it was a National Book Award finalist. It’s by Noelle Stevenson, one of the creators of Lumberjanes (I love Lumberjanes!). Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt gets into foodie culture with witty observations and hilarious illustrations. I’ll probably use the graphic novels as a segue from one book to another, though due to having a pretty hefty backlog of some Marvel comics I might read a whole series run in one go. We shall see!

Poetry
I recently learned that poetry doesn’t have to be boring. Yes, I know I sound like a 12 year old but thanks to an education that forced me to find obscure (and often manufactured) meaning in poems I pretty much have avoided them as an adult. All of that changed when I read Milk and Honey which is written and illustrated by Rupi Kaur. This extremely personal collection of autobiographical poems takes you deep into Rupi’s soul as she rips her heart out and lays it bare for all to read. There’s love, loss, family, heartache, sex, and what it means to be a woman. If you’re looking for something lighter, try Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke, and Hangry by Samantha Jayne. While these poems also seem to burst forth from the poet’s life, there’s a decidedly different tone. Colorfully illustrated, these funny and irreverent poems will resonate with adults young & not-so-young.

Essays
I recently discovered the book that changed my reading life. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by local author Lindy West turned my world upside down. You see, much like poetry, I had the gigantic misconception that feminist works had to be dry, dull, or just not written well. Shrill changed it all for me and led me down the road to Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay. I had mistakenly assumed that Bad Feminist would be a book entirely about feminism. It’s more like a look at life — feminism included — through someone else’s eyes. I just checked out The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley. It promises to combine the two biggest parts of me — nerd and feminist — and I can’t hardly wait to dive in. Plus, there’s a dinosaur on the cover. I can’t pass up a good dino! I’ve also got all of Mary Roach’s back catalog that I purchased when she was in town in April. She autographed them all, and I felt guilty telling her I’d never read her books. However, I did immediately follow that up with how excited I was to read them and now is the perfect opportunity.

mary roach and the ellisons

My husband and I got to chat with bestselling author Mary Roach when she visited Everett in April as part of EPL’s Ways to Read. Did you get to meet her, too? Our library is the best!

Short Stories
A few months back I had the (surprise) pleasure of reading and falling in love with Warlock Holmes by G.S. Denning. While I knew it was going to be a crazy retelling of Sherlock Holmes with magic and beasts, I didn’t realize (although I should) that it would be more of a collection of short stories, just like the original Sherlock Holmes books were. You can read a story, move to another book, and come back to Warlock Holmes and read the next story. You can pretty much read them in any order you want after the first story that sets up the world. I have also checked out Chainmail Bikini: the Anthology of Women Gamers. It’s in graphic novel format but it’s truly short, autobiographical stories of girl geeks I can’t wait to read.

Novellas
I confess I had forgotten that I owned Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. It came in one of those literary subscription boxes and I didn’t know what I had. Someone just told me it’s about a bookmobile, which, hello wheelhouse! I usually don’t go for novellas because I tend to want more when I’m finished: more characterization, more plot, more everything. However, I’ve been told this one is perfect the way it is and so I will go into it with that in mind.

Bookshots
If you’ve been following us on social media and/or been to a grocery store in the last few months you’ve heard about and/or seen Bookshots. Bookshots are the newest James Patterson creations that are taking the reading world by storm. Bookshots’ aim is to change people’s minds and habits by convincing them that their excuse, “I’m too busy to read an entire book!” isn’t true at all. These books are short and I would consider them novellas. Multiple Bookshots titles are published each month so there’s always a variety to choose from. Be sure to check out the Quick Picks collections when you’re at the library as most of the Bookshots titles are going into that wonderful grab-and-go, no-holds-allowed collection.

You’ll notice most of the books I’m writing about aren’t featured in my readathon TBR photo above. That’s because I’ve already read them and wrote this just for you, to encourage you to sign up and join the reading fun. A few people have told me that they really want to participate but are pretty sure there’s no way they can fit 24 solid hours of reading into their weekend. That’s totally okay! The whole point is to schedule some reading time into an otherwise hectic life and maybe connect with some other readers along the way. You can follow along with me if you like. I’m on Twitter & Instagram as bildungsromans and on Litsy as Carol. Ready? Set? Readathon!

Comics TBR

comics tbr

Comic books! I totally missed out on the awesomeness of comics when I was a kid and I find myself more than making up for it as an adult. Lately, however, I find that my eyes are bigger than my allotted reading time. It’s like being at a buffet and filling up plate after plate, but in the end you only have so much time to eat.

I’m hoping to grab some time this weekend to play a little catch-up, and I thought a great way to psych myself up would be to share with you just a few of the series that are currently casting a shadow in front of my Shakespeare books at home. I’ll pair them up how I plan to read them. Maybe if you’ve already read one, you’d consider reading its complementary series?

Lumberjanes & Gotham Academy
Lumberjanes was one of the first comic series I really got into reading. A group of girls meets at summer camp and form fast friendships. Soon, however, they realize the surrounding woods are home to magical creatures who aren’t always harmless. It’s up to our gals from the Roanoke cabin to take all that knowledge they gained from earning badges and apply it to the real-life situations they face.

Gotham Academy is about an adventurous group of kids about the same age as our Lumberjanes. Though these kids attend a boarding school outside Gotham City, they also have their share of run-ins with the impossible. And while these two have similarities, they’re listed here together because just this month a new comic series has begun where they have put both casts of characters together in one adventure. This new team-up series is going to be one of the first comics I finish off of that giant stack pictured above.

Batgirl & Black Canary
Did you know that the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, was a librarian? It’s true! And while the reboot of one of my favorite characters has gone in a new direction (Babs is in her 20s and in college) I’m totally loving it. There’s a lot of focus on her struggle to balance school, work, friendships, and relationships with fighting crime in Burnside (kinda like Brooklyn).

Dinah Lance is a character I first met in an issue of Batgirl. She fronts a band called Black Canary…and I’m having trouble remembering more details because I’ve only read the first issue! I do remember that they’re like a magnet for trouble. All their concerts get riot-ish and it’s up to them to find out why before they start losing fans.

She-Hulk & Patsy Walker aka Hellcat
Okay, so I’ve actually read all the She-Hulk issues and am almost up-to-date on Patsy Walker aka Hellcat. However, these two pair so well together I had to take the opportunity to tell you about them. She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters, is a defense attorney and a Hulk who can actually control her rage. Hellcat, Patsy Walker, works for a time as an investigator for She-Hulk. The two are really good friends who work well together, both professionally and personally. And they’re both willing to go the extra mile for the underdog.

Rat Queens & Nimona
I’m big into RPGs (role playing games) and so it’s totally surprising that I haven’t actually read Rat Queens yet. Here’s the summary from the library’s catalog:

Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.

Nimona will also appeal to fantasy fans, though again I’m not sure why I haven’t read this yet. The character Nimona is a shapeshifter who teams up with a villain and tries to prove that the heroes of the land aren’t actually heroes after all. Alan reviewed it last year as one of the best graphic novels of 2015, so I would truly be a fool to let this sit around collecting dust much longer.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If we consider my stack of unread comic books a buffet, I am planning to gorge myself and soon!

My Reading Challenge

Enjoy this post from our new contributor Katie:

Last year I read 121 books. My goal was 75. This year my goal is still 75 but I want to do something a little different than just push myself to read as many books as I can. So I decided to take a reading challenge. The list that I decided to go with comes from Pop Sugar and it has a really nice variety of topics that I hope will provide a unique reading experience. Check it out here at  http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2016-39126431.

challenge1and2

Not everything I read will be chosen in order to meet the challenge. For example, I read Super Mutant Magic Academy just for fun without intending to use it to check off a box, and it is now one of my favorite books.

Super Mutant

Most of the books I read last year were graphic novels. Currently I read graphic novels almost constantly, but before last year this wasn’t the case. The library in my college town was woefully underfunded and graphic novels are expensive. I was overjoyed to find that our library here in Everett has a wonderful graphic novel selection that not only has many of my favorites but also allows me to find new and interesting ones to read. This is why I read The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act as “a book from the library” for the reading challenge. I want to help bring awareness to the amazing and diverse and beautiful story telling that is the graphic novel.

Wicked

The Wicked and the Divine has been on my To-Read list for quite some time. When I saw that it was at the library I picked it up immediately. I was unprepared for just how much I was going to enjoy it. I’m frequently drawn to books that take interesting twists on mythology, such as the Percy Jackson series which is one of my favorites. The Wicked and the Divine takes place in a universe where 12 gods return to Earth every 90 years. They live for two years and then perish. In this particular cycle, each of the gods is a rock star. I found some similarities with their styles and certain current pop stars/celebrities today, but you’ll have to read it to find out which ones.

The main character is a mortal girl named Laura who follows the gods almost obsessively. She is a huge fan and tries to go as many concerts as she can. We are privy to her thoughts as she interacts with the gods and becomes involved in the dangerous world they inhabit. An interesting twist is that their divinity is not necessarily obvious. Much like current celebrities and pop stars, their god-like qualities could easily be attributed to stardom, loads of money, and special effects. Not everyone is convinced that they are in fact actually gods (though we the readers know better).

The gods cover a wide variety of pantheons. This current cycle has Lucifer (as a woman — my favorite), Sakhmet (my other favorite), Minerva, Baal and others as they get revealed through the story. As I read I became emotionally invested in these characters. It’s so easy to like them, but they are also complex. All of the gods and side characters are brought to life vividly by the beautiful and colorful artwork. It’s incredible. The storyline balances heartbreak and happiness with ease as the plot develops. I was unprepared for so much fun and drama, but I can’t wait to read more. I have a feeling that this series is going to break me (in a good way).

Best of 2015 Redux Pt. 2: Music and Graphic Novels

Music and graphic novels

Library staff have a unique, and I would say coveted, opportunity: we get to see stuff that might not be on your radar, just because it comes across our desks in the course of our workdays. Because of this, our 2015 staff favorites list was just too long to publish in one piece. So this week we’re bringing you even more goodies that we adored. To help cut down on your clicking (and our painstaking hyperlinking) we’ve provided one giant set for you to click through the music and graphic novels described below. Are you ready? Here comes the awesome!

MUSIC!

Ego Death by The Internet
Summary: Singer-songwriter Syd tha Kyd packs this album full of fun and sometimes blush-worthy lyrics taking you through the turmoil of love and sex, like the inner monologue of a turbulent relationship.
Why Lisa liked it: This release has plenty of jazzy, funky soul to go around.

House Masters: Frankie Knuckles by Frankie Knuckles
Summary: For anyone interested in the roots of today’s EDM, this retrospective of the late, great Frankie Knuckles is an absolute must.
Why Lisa liked it: This collection takes you on a trip back to the Warehouse days of Chicago, when house music was brand new, and had yet to become a global music phenomena that spawned countless genres of dance music.

In Another Life by Bilal
Summary: A solid soul album with a little bit of funk to make things more interesting.
Why Lisa liked it: Though Bilal is an established artist in his own right, you can appreciate the influence that iconic artists like Prince and Stevie Wonder have had on his music. This isn’t to say that Bilal is imitating anyone – his style is refreshingly original.

Angélique Kidjo Sings by Angélique Kidjo
Summary: This album is a delightful fusion of Kidjo’s bold and distinctive vocals with a full orchestral backing.
Why Lisa liked it: Listeners journey through a rich musical landscape that can be dramatic, dreamy, or festive depending on the track.

To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Summary: Jazz, hip-hop, funk, spoken word, slam poetry – an entire spectrum of art forms are covered.
Why Lisa liked it: At times thought-provoking and at others just entertaining; To Pimp a Butterfly is packed full of powerful tracks and is sure to become a classic.

War on Women by War on Women
Summary: Loud, gritty, hardcore punk with a healthy dose of righteous feminist fury.
Why Lisa liked it: I love this album when I need a little extra energy for my run.

El Que Sabe, Sabe by Tego Calderón
Summary: El Que Sabe lives in our Latin Pop section, but listeners will find a mix of reggaeton, hip-hop, reggae, electronica, bomba, and more.
Why Lisa liked it: While the overall tone is dark but dancy, there are a couple lighter, more laid-back cuts. La Media was a standout track for me; it reminded me of mid-90s hip-hop, to be enjoyed in the sun.

Down on Deptford Broadway by Skinny Lister
Summary: Skinny Lister’s music features ethereal Celtic folk melodies melding gracefully with rollicking rock and roll. As a reference point think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners at their best, and then think a bit better.
Why Ron liked it: Fun, fun, fun and great musicianship.

Hollywood Vampires by Hollywood Vampires
Summary: Hard rocking covers played by Alice Cooper and a plethora of musical all-stars.
Why Ron liked it: This album surprised me. Covers can be boring or weird, but Hollywood Vampires found ways to make the songs their own.

Danger in the Club by Palma Violets
Summary: 60s garage rock re-imagined in the 21st century. Sloppy, familiar, well-done.
Why Ron liked it: My decade of origin is evoked in footstomping, gear-changing, up-tempo rock and roll. Yeah baby!

GRAPHIC NOVELS!

Doodle Diary of a New Mom: an Illustrated Journey Through One Mommy’s First Year by Lucy Scott
Summary: The title summarizes it well. All the ups and downs of a full year in that adventure we call parenting.
Why Alan liked it: Works even if you’ve never been a mom; very, very funny. Kind of disgusting. Filled with love. A fast read, deceptively overloaded with insight and charm.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: the (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
Summary: Presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, fight crime.
Why Carol liked it: Alternate histories and science are married in this engrossing graphic novel. Includes footnotes and diagrams for the history buff in all of us.

Snowden by Ted Rall
Summary: Rall delves into Snowden’s early life and work experience, his personality, and the larger issues of privacy, new surveillance technologies, and the recent history of government intrusion.
Why Carol liked it: If you ever wanted to learn more about Edward Snowden but didn’t think you had the time to read a lengthy biography, here’s your chance to get the skinny in a short time frame.

Stay tuned as we wrap up our absolute final best-of list in the next post!

Best of 2015: Fiction & Graphic Novels for Adults

Another day, another great selection from our Best of 2015 list. Today we look at adult fiction and graphic novels hand picked by the Everett Public Library staff.

Fiction for Adults:

F1

West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan

This historical novel follows the last four years in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life.

Stewart O’Nan writes literary, sensitive, character-driven tragedy, but usually about the everyday. Here, we get to see him flex his style and sympathy on a truly fascinating and heartbreaking story of the great writer’s last years in Hollywood. -Alan’s pick

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

Set in contemporary Northern California, Boyle’s latest explores the connections between three damaged people — an aging Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son’s paranoid, older lover — as they careen toward explosive confrontation.

T.C. Boyle has been weaving his gorgeous character-driven and insight-rich literary style into works that speak volumes about contemporary issues. Written in Boyle’s sheer lyrical style,. this thriller should please anyone. -Alan’s pick

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Eight-year-old Peggy is living in London with her concert pianist mother and survivalist father when an issue between the parents causes her dad to steal away with Peggy into the mountains of Germany where they live for years in “die Hutte.”

Stories about surviving in the wild always appeal to me, but this book had so many subtle twists, so smoothly done in fact that I missed them, that at the surprising end I wanted to go back and see what really happened. Excellent! -Elizabeth’s pick

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Parched and ruined California has turned into a series of giant sand dunes, but Luz and Ray are surviving in a long-gone starlet’s mansion. At an outdoor party, they encounter an abused and neglected toddler and begin to dream of a better life.

I can’t seem to get enough of really good dystopian fiction, and this is one of the best since last year’s Station Eleven.   Brutal, sweet, hopeful, and devastating, it is also quite plausible considering the current droughts we are experiencing. -Elizabeth’s pick

F2

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

Journey across Canada and across the decades.

Magical realism in a journey of self-discovery similar to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. -Julie’s pick

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy : A Novel by Rachel Joyce

Queenie’s side of the story of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

While Harold was walking to Queenie, readers knew all about him, but not much about Queenie. Now that has been remedied with this new novel, letting us in on what Queenie remembers about Harold. -Julie’s pick

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

This novel is the story of two sisters living in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. It is well written and a good companion book to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

The setting and characters were very well done. I was sad when it ended. -Leslie’s pick

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

This is the backstory of Beryl Markham, the first woman to make a solo transatlantic crossing from east to west. She was raised by her father in Africa and became that continent’s first woman horse trainer.

This book has it all—beautiful and descriptive writing, an interesting story of a woman trailblazer, and the lovely land of Kenya. I could not recommend it more highly. -Leslie’s pick

F3

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

This is an historical novel about two orphaned sisters who are flower sellers barely surviving in the streets of London in the 1800s and what happens after they are separated. .

The story is realistic, heartbreaking, bittersweet, and, thankfully, has a mostly happy ending. I enjoyed this story immensely. -Margaret’s pick

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

In an attempt to stave off loneliness after losing their spouses, Addie and Louis start spending the night together for companionship. Addie’s son disapproves, but her grandson comes to spend time with Addie and develops a strong bond with Louis.

A beautiful relationship story, told with grace and touching calmness. I am very sad that Kent Haruf passed away last year; he is one of my favorite authors. This is a quick read you can finish in a few hours, but it’s good to read it slow, so it lasts longer. -Sarah’s pick

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

This collection of posthumous short stories by Lucia Berlin is something else. The two writers who introduce her gush and rave about her work; you wonder why it wasn’t published years ago.

Berlin injects bits of her own history, incorporating alcoholism, pink-collar work, and years of hard living into her characters. Her vibrant landscapes (Oakland, Mexico, Chile, and beyond) are packed with individuals dealing with harsh circumstances. -Sarah’s pick

Graphic Novels for Adults:

AGN1

Ms. Marvel Volumes 2 & 3 by G. Willow Wilson

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager?  Muslim?  Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm!

If you haven’t read this reboot of Marvel standby Ms. Marvel (Vol. 1 came out in 2014), you are seriously missing out. Kamala Khan is not just a superhero–she’s a teenager learning to trust herself and figure out just who she is. -Carol’s pick

Not Funny Ha-Ha: A Handbook for Something Hard by Leah Hayes

Demystifies the process of abortion by following the story of two women who have decided to have abortions, from making their initial decision, choosing a clinic and method (surgical and medical), reaching out to loved ones, and the having procedure.

The subject matter may be controversial, but this book can and will help someone making a thoroughly difficult decision. -Carol’s pick

Step Aside, Pops : A Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton’s second Drawn & Quarterly. book brings her hysterically funny gaze to bear on historical, literary, and contemporary figures. Irreverently funny and carefully researched, no target is safe from Beaton’s incisive wit!

This was my intro into Kate Beaton and D+Q. When I cataloged it, the book fell open to a satirical strip of Nancy Drew, and I knew this was for me! -Carol’s pick

AGN2

The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden

When Jennifer Hayden was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 43, she realized that her breasts told a story. Across a lifetime, they’d held so many meanings: hope and fear, pride and embarrassment, life and death. And then they were gone.

If you’ve never read an autobiographical comic strip or graphic novel, take a chance on this one. If your goal this year was to read difficult stuff, pick this up. If you know anyone touched by breast cancer, check this out. -Carol’s pick

Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

Graphic novelist Lucy is in the prime of her life when she accompanies her rapidly aging grandparents on a Caribbean cruise. She has always been close to them, and when no one else can go along, and she is at loose ends, she offers to help.

Knisley really captures the sweet and rewarding aspects of helping the very old, but we also feel strongly the frustration, sadness, and feelings of being trapped that come with the job. The drawing style, while simple, is expressive and charming. -Elizabeth’s pick

Best of 2015: Teen Fiction & Graphic Novels

We continue our Best of 2015 list today with the ever popular category of fiction and graphic novels for teens. Don’t let the teen label throw you. Plenty of adults love these titles as well.

Fiction for Teens:

TF1

Madly by Amy Alward

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure!

Magic, mystery, romance–what’s not to love? The world has magical rules that are vague enough to be believable, and I loved meeting another strong female heroine. Sam Kemi will be back in book 2–can’t wait to see what happens next! -Carol’s pick

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

After her parents’ divorce, Zoe Webster moves from Brooklyn to upstate New York where she meets the weirdly compelling misfit, Philip Digby, and soon finds herself in a series of hilarious and dangerous situations as he pulls her into his investigations.

The fast-paced adventure was only surpassed by the quick wit. And I haven’t looked it up yet, but reading the ending makes it obvious that a sequel demands to be written. Or at least I am demanding one. I picked this book up on a whim, and I’m so glad I did. -Carol’s pick

Reawakened by Colleen Houck

A visit to an Egyptian exhibit brings teen Lilliana Young face to face with a recently awakened mummy-turned-handsome-sun-god as she gets caught up in an adventure with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

This book brings ancient Egyptian mythology into the modern age in an engrossing way. Liliana’s journey, both around the world and inside her heart, is a fast-paced adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat. -Carol’s pick

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch is traveling against his will on a ship bound for the deepest part of the ocean with an evil captain and trickster parrot. Or is it that he’s slipping from his typical teenage life into the depths of madness?

By switching back and forth between the real and imagined stories, Shusterman expertly propels the reader into Caden’s mind and its swirling, confusing, and terrifying thoughts. Brendan Shusterman’s drawings add greatly to the chaos. -Elizabeth’s pick

TF2

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Messy, earthy Agnieszka expects to lose her friend to “The Dragon”, a wizard who periodically takes a village girl for unknown purposes, only to be taken herself. She quickly becomes involved fighting the evil Wood, and learns to trust her budding powers.

This Polish fairy tale is at times very dark and the quest seems hopeless, but there are enough bright and funny parts to keep hope alive. I loved the totally creepy feeling to the Wood and all of its bizarre creatures brimming with evil intentions. -Elizabeth’s pick

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

Claire and Ella have been best friends since elementary school, and Ella has become intensely important to Claire. During a campout at the beach the group meets mysterious Orpheus, whose hypnotic music draws them all in, especially Ella.

A modern day retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Ella Grey is likely to make you seek out other versions of the story and other books by Almond. Beautifully written, atmospheric, and full of teen angst and passion. Tragic and lovely! -Elizabeth’s pick

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

The much-anticipated sequel to Seraphina (2012). In a world where dragons can assume human form, there are children who are half human and half dragon. Seraphina can communicate with others of her kind by diving deep into her subconscious mind.

While this tale is inspired by other fantasy series about dragons, the characters are endearing and the pacing keeps those pages flying. -Emily’s pick

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

She could bear the beatings, but she couldn’t bear life on the farm without books. After her father forbids her to attend school, 14-year-old Joan runs away to Baltimore. After all, it’s 1911! A modern girl should be able to make it on her own, right?

There is no shortage of historical fiction about girls running away from home to seek their fortunes. This story portrays the tensions between Jews and Gentiles in the early 20th century from the point of view of a young “Goy” working in a Jewish home. -Emily’s pick

Graphic Novels for Teens:

TGN

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

In this printing of the popular, award-winning web comic, a villain adopts a sidekick with incredible powers and a mysterious past.

Colorful, intelligent, and insightful to human behavior and relationships, Nimona is everything you want a graphic novel to be: at once impactful, complex, and accessible. Iconographic and character-driven, this graphic novel is terrific for all ages. -Alan’s pick

Batgirl Volume 1: Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher

It’s Batgirl as you’ve never seen her before! Big changes are here for Barbara Gordon as she moves across Gotham City to begin a new chapter in her ongoing fight against crime as Batgirl.

Who doesn’t love Batgirl? This collects volumes #35-40 of the Batgirl comics, which have been my re-introduction to DC and one that was a random selection at Everett Comics! -Carol’s pick

Bob’s Burgers Volume 1 by Various

The compilation of Bob’s Burgers comics #1-5. Read about the Belcher family (parents Bob and Linda, and their children Tina, Gene, and Louise) with brand-new in-canon stories created by the TV show’s producers, writers, animators, and  the series creator.

I hop and skip for joy every time I pick up the newest issue of Bob’s Burgers at Everett Comics. Jennifer H. got me to take a chance on the TV show a year ago, and the comics totally live up to the show’s quality humor. -Carol’s pick

Captain Marvel Volume 2. Stay Fly by Kelly Sue DeConnick

A compilation of stories that originally were published as the Captain Marvel comics #7-11.

Carol Danvers isn’t just cool because of her awesome first name. She’s a woman setting her own course, even if that means leaving everyone she loves behind and going on an intergalactic adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy. -Carol’s pick

Best of 2015: Children’s Fiction & Graphic Novels

Tis the season for best of the year lists. These lists always come in handy for finding great gifts for yourself and others. The only problem? There sure are a lot of them. To help you avoid ‘best of year list fatigue’ let us humbly suggest you look no further than our Best of 2015 list.

Our list is put together by the dedicated staff of the Everett Public Library who know a thing or two about all the great books, movies and music that have come out in 2015. Not only do we select these materials for the library collection, but we are avid consumers ourselves. As you might suspect, our list is a tad long so we will be publishing our selections a day at a time for a week here on A Reading Life. If you want to see the complete list in all its glory, take a look at the December Newsletter to get the PDF.

So, without further ado, let’s get this list started. Today we will be taking a look at all the great fiction and graphic novels for children that came out in 2015.

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Waiting by Kevin Henkes

An owl, puppy, bear, bunny, and pig wait for marvelous things to happen.

Kevin Henkes has the soul of a poet and the precision of a scientist. His books are warm, lovely, and philosophical. The twist in this one, involving a nesting doll, is breathtaking…and the lesson is patience and gratitude in minutiae.  -Alan’s pick

How to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham

In bold, adorable wood block prints, the author describes in toddler-friendly detail (very few words) how friendship works.

Gillingham analogizes growing a friend to how things grow in nature with ample talking points for the storyteller (“don’t let your friend get stuck in the weeds”). -Alan’s pick

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

With spare text and breathtaking oil paintings, If You Plant a Seed demonstrates not only the process of planting and growing for young children but also how a seed of kindness can bear sweet fruit.

The illustrations of this simple tale are whimsical and beautiful. The animals are so very expressive. -Andrea’s pick

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Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle

Every season a little mouse pops out of his hole in the meadow and explores his world, gathering the food and supplies he will need when winter comes.

This charming story is told in rhymes and is a delight. -Leslie’s pick

Smick! by Doreen Cronin

Smick is a very minimally drawn dog in a children’s book. He retrieves a stick (done with a photo) and  meets Chick (made from a photo of a petal and drawn upon).

With very simple line drawings, Smick is portrayed as being very lively, cute, and good. He plays well with Chick, and he stole my heart. A charming book for ages 2 and up, Smick uses simple rhyming text to tell the story. -Margaret’s pick

Superworm byJulia Donaldson

Our super hero is a worm! “Superworm is super long! Superworm is super strong! Watch him wiggle! Watch him squirm! Hip Hip Hooray for Superworm!”

I love all of Julia Donaldson’s books (The Gruffalo is awesome), and this one doesn’t disappoint. -Leslie’s pick

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Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens

At an English boarding school in the 1930s, crime-solving friends Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells struggle to find an exciting mystery to investigate. They hit pay-dirt when Hazel discovers the dead body of Miss Bell, the science teacher.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong speak to the large portion of my soul still in love with all the Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew stories. We have a bit of a delay getting the U.S. versions (book 4 is already out in the UK), but it’s going to be worth the wait! -Carol’s pick

Auggie and Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio

These stories are an extra peek at Auggie before he started at Beecher Prep and during his first year there. Readers get to see him through the eyes of Julian, the bully; Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, Auggie’s new friend at school.

This book is a companion to Palacio’s Wonder. These chapters were not included in the original book, because Wonder was Auggie Pullman’s story. This is a glimpse of the lives of three more people whose paths crossed with Auggie’s. -Andrea’s pick

A Boy and His Horse by Nate Cosby

Story of a young bounty hunter determined to send his entire outlaw family to jail. He travels the Old West on a horse that ain’t his, and won’t stop til every one’a his kin’s in the clink.

From the Old West slang and drawl to the adorable illustrations, this graphic novel aimed at a younger audience will have adults like you and me enthralled as well. -Carol’s pick

Lumberjanes Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy & Lumberjanes Volume 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen

At Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hardcore lady-types, things are not what they seem.

Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves.  Anagrams. The Lumberjanes are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer.

I picked up issue 1 of this comic book series at Everett Comics on a whim. Little did I know how quickly I would fall in love with this magical series. Get caught up on these hardcore lady-types before the movie comes out (yep, film optioned!). -Carol’s pick

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Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring by Kate Leth

When the water supply of Fraggle Rock mysteriously runs dry, the Fraggles will have to journey deep in the caves of Fraggle Rock to find the fabled Everspring where adventure awaits and no Fraggle has ever gone before! Dance your cares away!

I was raised on Fraggle Rock and have come to be completely obsessed with Kate Leth. This is a match made in heaven, perfect for the young and young-at-heart. -Carol’s pick

Punky Brewster Volume 1 by Joelle Sellner

Punky Brewster has been abandoned by her mother and lives on the streets of Chicago with her puppy sidekick, Brandon. Punky thinks she doesn’t need help, but after getting picked up by the police, she enters a foster home and searches for a new family.

When I was growing up, Punky Brewster was the one TV show my friends and I all watched religiously (well, as religious as a small child can). She was the friend we all wanted, and this comic brings me back to those days of wonder. -Carol’s pick

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Astrid becomes infatuated with roller derby after attending a bout with her mom and best friend, Nicole. The girls sign up for a roller derby boot camp, and Astrid soon realizes she’s in over her head.

Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile will eat this up. -Sarah’s pick