New Books: January 2020

New books are hitting our library shelves every week! Here’s just a few of the new YA books that you can find at the Alameda Free Library in January. Place a hold on these items using the library catalog to make sure you’re one of the first to read these books!

1. Activist by Lauren Hogg | Graphic Novel, call number: YA GN 371.7 ACTIVIST

44667874Lauren Hogg, one of the survivors of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland, Florida, dramatically tells her story in graphic novel form. The tragedy of yet another mass shooting has galvanized the young people of the country, and helped launch a movement that continues to gain momentum. Lauren Hogg lost her two best friends that horrible day, but despite her loss she, along with other Parkland students, found her voice and created meaning from the horrors of that day.“- Goodreads synopsis




2. The Big Book of BTS by Katy Sprinkel | Non-fiction, call number: YA 782.4216 SPRINKEL

44443385“Already K-pop’s hugest artist, the members of BTS are looking to make 2020 their most successful year ever! Between selling out arenas, dropping mixtapes, and filming a surprise concert documentary, BTS has still found time to release wildly popular hits like “Boy with Luv” and “Idol.” For these icons, the best may still be yet to come.

The Big Book of BTS is the biggest and most complete guide to all things Bangtan. Including more than 100 fullcolor photographs, you’ll get an in-depth look at the lives of RM, J-Hope, Suga, Jimin, V, Jin, and Jungkook. It also explores their meteoric rise, musical influences, unbeatable style, far-reaching activism, and bond with fans.

The Big Book of BTS is a must-have for ARMYs as well as new K-pop fans everywhere!” -Goodreads synopsis

3. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen| Fiction, call number: YA Fic WEN

23559994. sy475  “For fans of Crazy Rich Asians or Jane Austen Comedy of Manners, with a hint of La La Land

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?” -Goodreads synopsis

4. We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding | Fiction, YA Fic SPALDING

39324806. sy475 “Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.” -Goodreads synopsis

5. Seeing Gender by Iris Gottlieb | Non-fiction,  call number: YA 305.3 GOTTLIEB

43885853. sx318 Seeing Gender is an of-the-moment investigation into how we express and understand the complexities of gender today. Deeply researched and fully illustrated, this book demystifies an intensely personal—yet universal—facet of humanity. Illustrating a different concept on each spread, queer author and artist Iris Gottlieb touches on history, science, sociology, and her own experience. This book is an essential tool for understanding and contributing to a necessary cultural conversation, bringing clarity and reassurance to the sometimes confusing process of navigating ones’ identity. Whether LGBTQ+, cisgender, or nonbinary, Seeing Gender is a must-read for intelligent, curious, want-to-be woke people who care about how we see and talk about gender and sexuality in the 21st century.” -Goodreads synopsis

6. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim | Fiction, call number: YA Fic SIM

42248816“When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo.” -Goodreads synopsis

7. Black Girl, Unlimited by Echo Brown| Fiction, call number: YA Fic BROWN

38599259. sy475

“Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic . . . everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor. Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. There are dangers to leaving behind the place that made you. Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for.

Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism—all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age.

A powerful memoir for fans of Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson and American Street by Ibi Zoboi.” -Goodreads synopsis

8. Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore| Fiction, call number: YA Fic McLemore

44218347. sy475 “Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.” -Goodreads synopsis

9. Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles | Fiction, call number: YA Fic GILES

43520622“Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?”   -Goodreads synopsis

10. Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning|Fiction, call number: YA Fic Henning

40195260. sy475 “Friday Night Lights meets Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything in this contemporary debut where swoonworthy romance meets underdog sports story.

When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince their coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the Spring. But it will take more than the perfect spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charming smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

With well-drawn characters and a charming quarterback love interest who’s got brains as well as brawn, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.” -Goodreads synopsis

The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody

38355173Name: Allison

Grade: 8th

Title: The Geography of Lost Things

Author: Jessica Brody

Published in: 2018

Pages: 458

Rating: 3 stars

Review: In The Geography of Lost Things, Ali Collins, an insecure teenager on the verge of losing her childhood home, inherits her estranged father’s beloved 1968 Firebird Convertible shortly after receiving news about his death. Determined to prevent an eviction from her own house, Ali, who can’t drive a stick-shift to save her own life, grudgingly enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend, Nico, to deliver said car to a buyer hundreds of miles away. Of course, the story isn’t as simple as that. During the seemingly torturous road trip, Nico starts to collect and barter items with complete strangers in order to amass enough moola to pay off Ali’s debts. Truths are revealed and lies uncovered. Emotional drama ensues as the two teens first confront and then eventually comfort each other.

As far as teen romance and family novels go, I’d say that The Geography of Lost Things lands squarely in the middle. There’s enough action to keep the plot moving along, but at the same time the story seems to be a little cliched: two exes are thrown together in an uncomfortable situation with strained circumstances and a still-burning flame of attraction. Nico wins the honor of most likable character- he is understanding and charismatic, yet still retains enough insecurities to come across as a realistic human.

For someone who likes emotional stories and teen drama, I recommend this book to you, although you may come to share my opinions about its clichéd plot and characters. Readers may want to set their sights on a different novel instead. Eleanor and Park and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before are in my opinion similar, better alternatives to The Geography of Lost Things. There are a plethora of novels that share the same elements, albeit with much more interesting storylines and characters.


An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Related imageName: Nancy

Grade: 10th

Title: An Enchantment of Ravens

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Published in: 2017

Pages: 304

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens is about a girl named Isobelle, who is a portrait artist for the fair folk. The fair folk are unable to do any sort of craft, meaning they can’t cook, make clothes, paint, etc. which is why they must rely on humans to do these things for them, and, in return, they give enchantments as payment. Isobelle paints a portrait for Rook, the autumn prince, but makes a grave mistake that could cost them everything they care about. Rook and Isobelle travel to the Autumn Court so Isobelle can be tried for her crimes, but they run into difficulties along the way.

I personally really liked the book and the writing style but I felt like it wasn’t long enough for me and I still have so many unanswered questions after reading it. The book wasn’t like anything I’ve ever read before and I really enjoyed the characters and the world Margaret Rogerson built. Personally, I enjoy a good open ending, but this book’s ending was a little too open for my tastes.

I would definitely recommend An Enchantment of Ravens to teens, especially since it is so short and can be read quickly. The writing style was really pleasant and the characters are absolutely amazing. It is definitely more geared towards fans of fantasy books, but I think anyone can enjoy it. The portrayal of the fair folk in this book remind me of the faeries from The Cruel Prince, so if you’re a fan of The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, you should definitely check out An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson.


Because You Love to Hate Me Edited by Ameriie

31450752Name: Angelica

Grade: 8th

Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

Author: Edited by Ameriie

Published in: 2017

Pages: 339

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Because You Love To Hate Me includes 13 famous stories told from the villains’ point of view. The giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk”, Jim Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes, Death itself… The bad guys finally get their say in what happened, and all of their emotions and troubles are presented to the readers. After each short story, there’s a two or three paged explanation or extension of the story by different booktubers. Besides flipping everything we know about traditional stories, the authors also included serious ideas like the rights of women, family pressure, and drugs.

This book is very inspirational for readers that are looking for something new and profound. Two of my favorite characters are the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid and Mei Du, or Medusa set in ancient China. The boundary between hero and villain is blurry and faint, and what split people into different stereotypes is others’ perceptions. People might be self-conscious of how they are portrayed, while others might not care at all. Peer pressure is surely a very important issue in both the fictional worlds in the book and the modern world that we live in.

Of course, that is not the only idea discussed in the book. For example, the concept of female independence and power is incorporated into the stories “The Sea Witch”, “Beautiful Venom”, and “Marigold”. In each of the stories, the villain, or protagonist in these stories, start as timid women trying to fit in their society. As the plot unfolds, the character slowly realizes that she does not need to succumb to the male-led society and gathers her power. So are they villains?

I love this book and would advise my friends to read it. Each story is short but grabs the attention of the readers. It is like nothing that I’ve ever read before, and I relish the read. A quote: “No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again…”

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Image result for now i rise book coverName: Allison

Grade: 8th

Title: Now I Rise

Author: Kiersten White

Published in: 2017

Pages: 482

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Now I Rise is the second installment of Kiersten White’s And I Darken trilogy. Both follow the somewhat twisted and convoluted relationship of three 14th century historical figures, and both explore the inner, darker workings of human nature. In Now I Rise, Lada, one of the story’s ruthless main characters, tries to claim the throne of Wallachia. Unfortunately for Lada, former lover Emperor Mehmed is somewhat desperate to have her back, and attempts all sorts of shenanigans to claim Lada as his own. He’s also, inconveniently, aiming to conquer the holy city of Constantinople at the same time via siege. This is when all hell breaks loose and Lada’s brother Radu is sent to work as Mehmed’s spy in Constantinople. As a result, the whole story is laden with betrayal, murder, blood, and all kinds of gory/violent details. If this sort of stuff sounds like your thing, then you will relish White’s Now I Rise.

Although the first book (And I Darken) was initially difficult for me to engage in, I eventually became hooked on the simplistic style White uses to describe her characters. The same is true for Now I Rise. It is gripping, thrilling, and dark, all at the same time. My favorite character, Radu, is probably the most relatable person in the story. He’s a young, gay, and extremely handsome man vying to win the attention of his childhood friend Mehmed. On the flip side, Lada and Mehmed seem almost inhuman, which I felt was a con and made it difficult to fully connect with the two. They’re so merciless that some of the scenes in the book gave me an inner shudder.

As previously mentioned above, if violence, a dark plot, and betrayal happen to fit your preferences, then by all means I recommend this book to you. There’s plenty of that in this story. Readers averse to savagery, though, may want to skip this one in favor of a lighter read. In comparison, Now I Rise is very similar to the Throne of Glass and The Lunar Chronicles series; if you liked those then Now I Rise may just fit the bill.

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Image result for twelve steps to normalName: Sophia

Grade: 11th

Title: Twelve Steps to Normal

Author: Farrah Penn

Published in: 2018

Pages: 366

Rating: 3 stars

Review: Twelve Steps to Normal follows a young girl, Kira, who struggles with having an alcoholic father.  Her life was uprooted when he went into a rehab center and she was moved to live with her aunt in Oregon.  After being gone for months and months, she has become disconnected with her friends and is still pining after the boyfriend she broke up with.  Now being back it feels like she is a stranger in her own home and it doesn’t help that her dad has brought some of his friends from the rehab center to live with them.  Kira creates a twelve-step list to try and bring her life back to normal, but what she doesn’t realize is that no matter what she does there is no normal.

I really enjoyed this book.  While it didn’t have the best writing style and some of the character development was subpar, it was entertaining nonetheless.  I felt like I could connect with many of the characters and their struggles. Even if addiction and alcohol abuse isn’t present in your everyday life, there are still characters that you can relate to.  This might be a bit of a cliche, but my favorite character was Kira’s love interest Alex. Alex is a really supportive and caring person and, even though he has his flaws he overcomes them in the end. This book made me feel like not having a perfectly “normal” life is okay.  It seems like not having the norm may in itself be the norm, and this book depicts that fairly well.

I would recommend this book.  While it isn’t extremely groundbreaking it is still an entertaining read.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a little bit of a sucker for a cliche storyline and likes a good realistic fiction.  I hope that if you decide to pick this book up you enjoy it.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Image result for north mythology neil gaimanName: Sophia

Grade: 11th

Title: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Published in: 2018

Pages: 300

Rating: 4 stars

Review: Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology takes the old myths and makes them into a coherent story. While most Norse myths jump around in time and occasionally contradict one another, this book follows a linear plot line that is easy to understand. This book starts from before the world was created, ends with Ragnarok, also known as the end of the world where good and evil battle to the death. It describes many of the Norse gods such as Thor, the god of thunder, Loki, the god of mischief, Baldur, the god of light, and many more. It also describes the adventures these gods have along the way. This book stays true to the original myths but keeps an air novelty and wonder. The gods, giants, dwarfs, and other mythical creatures give the story life.

I really enjoyed this book. Norse mythology is my favorite set of ancient lore, and this book enhances my love for Vikings and explorers. My favorite part of the story what when Gaiman describes Yggdrasil, the tree of life, because he uses wonderful imagery that makes it feel very real and alive in the pages.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ancient mythology. I would even suggest this book to people who love fantasy in general. The story is filled with magic and adventure, anyone who likes these topics would find this book wonderful. This book reminds me of The Sea of Trolls trilogy by Nancy Farmer. This series takes place in a time where Vikings are pillaging towns and Norse mythology is riddled throughout life.

What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli

Image result for what if it's us book coverName: Tiena

Grade: 11th

Title: What If It’s Us

Author: Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli

Published in: 2018

Pages: 437

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: What If It’s Us is a young adult contemporary novel about a whirlwind romance between two teen boys in Manhattan. Ben, a native New-Yorker, has just broken up with his boyfriend and is trying to patch up the rift in his friend group. Arthur, only in New York for the summer, is obsessed with Broadway musicals and getting into Yale University. The two of them feel as if they are being pulled together by the forces of the universe, and navigate their feelings for each other through lots of cute interactions and frustrating miscommunications.

I have read every single novel by both of these authors, and I was so excited to hear that they were teaming up to write one together. This book was a quick, light read and although it was entertaining and enjoyable, it was lacking some of the depth and authenticity that I appreciated from their other works. The love story is not at all realistic, although it is cute and fluffy. However, there were several great moments that summed up exactly how it feels to worry about academics, friend group dynamics, and family. It was also incredibly funny- both of these authors have a knack for writing humorously. I appreciated the racial diversity of the characters as well as the LGBTQ+ representation. The novel contained lots of good discussion about healthy and unhealthy relationships, both platonic and romantic.

This novel is geared towards teens, and contains a small amount of content that could be considered explicit for younger ages. Anyone who searches for good LGBTQ+ fiction to read should definitely pick this up. There are lots of references to Broadway musicals such as Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen that will definitely be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the shows. If you enjoyed any previous works by Adam Silvera ( e.g. History is All You Left Me, They Both Die at the End) or Becky Albertalli (e.g. Simon VS the Homosapien Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited) then you are sure to appreciate this joint novel. Anyone wanting to read a light-hearted, sappy romance novel is sure to like this fun book!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Image result for the language of thornsName: Sophia

Grade: 11th

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published in: 2017

Pages: 288

Rating: 5 stars

Review: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is a series of the fairy tales that we have all come to know and love, but recreated. Beauty and the Beast, The Nutcracker, The Little Mermaid, and three other stories have been reinvented to take the characters known by many and fit them in stories that take completely different paths. Leigh Bardugo is up to this challenge. She understands that people know many of these narratives and, using incredible imagery and imagination, she makes them her own. While this is a standalone book, these tales come from the world that many of her other books are set in.

I found this book incredibly enchanting. After reading the first story I found it very difficult to put it down. On top of the incredible writing, each page is beautifully illustrated. The borders of the pages are slowly filled as the story progresses and by the end, the whole story is depicted in the margins. Another thing I love about this book is that I don’t have a favorite story. They are all so fantastic and different that it is hard for me to compare them with one another. I also feel somewhat of a connection with many of the characters. This book tends to draw you in and it makes me feel like I am in the story and I am the one who is going on the journey.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for new myths, folklore, or fairy tales. In this modern age, it is hard to come across new fairy tales that take on an air of the past but this book exceeded my expectations by far. And because these tales are part of the author’s other works, they may interest you into her other books: The Shadow Bone Trilogy, and The Six of Crows Duology