Top Teen Reads of 2017 from your HCPL Teen Librarians!

2017 was definitely a roller coaster ride. There were some incredible peaks, plenty of quick drops and more than a few twists and turns.  We costumed up and partied at the Library Comic Con, saw the sun go dark during the Great American Eclipse, and fought the rise of fake news.

But 2017 was also another awesome year for YA books.  We read SO MANY great books this year, it was hard to choose our favorites.  We cheered for new titles from past favorites John Green and Philip Pullman. We were bowled over by brand new authors like Angie Thomas and Sandhya Menon. And we loved seeing YA lit continue to tackle topics relevant to all teens, reflecting the diversity that surrounds us every day.

Without any further adieu, here is your HCPL Teen Librarians’ Top Teen Reads of 2017.  You may just find your next book to read on this list – click on the titles to head to our catalog and place copies on hold!

We dedicate this list to Amanda Giannini (1982-2017), Teen Librarian at the Fairfield Library. We miss you, Amanda.

Continue reading “Top Teen Reads of 2017 from your HCPL Teen Librarians!”

Read + Review is Back!

Happy first day of school everyone!  The first day of school is also the first day of Read + Review – so you can start earning community service hours for submitting your reviews of our New YA books.

Visit our Read + Review page to learn more, and check out our handy guide to getting awarded the maximum two hours service credit for your reviews below.

Happy reading from your HCPL Teen Librarians!

Read Review Infographic

Read + Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black



Jude Duarte’s throat closes up every time she’s reminded that she is merely a mortal. Quite frankly, she amounts to nothing compared to the high-ranking faeries. However, Jude is willing to prove her worth as an individual at all costs. No matter how consequential her actions are, she won’t let society change her. After Jude unearths new abilities and powers, a betrayal wreaks havoc in the royal family. Jude’s responsibility is to save her family and the entirety of Faerie.

The word choice of The Cruel Prince indubitably exceeds all expectations. There is not the slightest hesitation when I say that the author’s characterization and imagination are awe-inspiring. Heartbreaks, obstacles, and bloodshed advanced the plot and allowed the story to show its full potential. Although it was somewhat difficult to understand how the society of Faerie operated, the plot of The Cruel Prince was unquestionably intriguing.

One memorable thing about The Cruel Prince was the tragic and agonizing betrayal that took place before Jude’s very eyes. It was certainly a surreal event that altered the outcome of the book immensely.


Reviewed by Jessica, Grade 9, Glen Allen Library

Read + Review: Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral by Ridley Pearson


Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral is a take on the classic characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. However in this telling, both Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty are teenagers attending a boarding school known as Baskerville Academy, which is the main setting of the story (along with the Moriarty’s house). Unlike in other iterations of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes and Moriarty are rivals rather than enemies. Holmes is a socially awkward, incredibly intelligent teenage boy, who uses logical deductions to solve mysteries. James Moriarty is nearly the exact opposite: charismatic, logical almost to a fault, and morally ambiguous. Together with Moria, James’s sister, a sarcastic and smart girl, they team up to discover the mystery behind Moria’s and James’s father’s “accidental” demise. While trying to follow the trail of information their father left them, they have to deal with two mysterious organizations working to follow the trail too.

Overall, the book was an entertaining read. All of the mysteries presented within the story were engaging and never over stayed their welcome. Most of the characters in the book were compelling, and the dynamic between the three main characters, Sherlock, James, and Moria, kept my interest. James and Sherlock might have been full on enemies if Moria didn’t exist. Moria has a crush on Sherlock and her brother James is all that’s left of her family. However, there are a few characters that are frustrating because their actions seem inconsistent with their personalities and loyalties. Although part of the mystery (and the appeal of the book) is figuring out who to trust, it often leads to a few characters whom seem to have no discernible personalities. The book also suffers from a huge cast of side characters who become hard to keep track of.

With the brilliance of both James Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes, there are many clever ways the characters solve mysteries. One of my favorite moments is when James Moriarty believes he is being followed by bodyguards from his father’s organization. In order to figure out whether or not his belief is true, he asks one of his friends to tackle him and beat him. When James is tackled by his friend, his body guard appears to stop the boy from hurting James. It’s such a clever way to test his suspicion and it stood out to me as one of the most memorable moments in the book.


Reviewed by Aiden, Grade 8, Gayton Library

Read + Review: Meet me at the Well: the girls and women of the bible by Jane Yolen and Barbara Diamond Goldin


Meet Me at the Well is a book made up of nine retellings of stories from the Bible. Specifically, stories focusing on women. This book tells the tales of fourteen biblical women, Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Jocheved, Zipporah, Deborah, Jael, Hannah, Naomi, Ruth, and Esther. Each story is described in an effective way, and the authors make sure to point out relations to the modern world, carefully explain details that may be confusing, and pose important questions. Meet Me at the Well includes helpful introductions, the locations of the stories in the Bible, artwork, poems, questions with answers, and a piece of writing from a certain point of view to go along with the main reading. This book does not have a specific plot or setting, but rather showcases and connects numerous ones.

This book was absolutely marvelous. Not only did it re-tell biblical stories in an understandable and interesting fashion, but it went in-depth and discussed the story, sharing different opinions and aspects with the reader. Meet Me at the Well highlights the heroism of each female while keeping the stories unbiased, also explaining faults in the characters. The main readings were a joy to read, and the sections with questions and explanations were informative and helpful. Artwork and poetry accompanying the tales set a good mood, and were a pleasurable break from the educational content. The writing style itself was also fantastic, clear and concise with a good, balanced amount of information packed into sentences.

The most memorable thing about Meet me at the Well is the small question and answer sections throughout each story. They come in the form of small boxes on the edge of the main text, but sometimes appear as entire pages once a story is completed. After posing a question, the section provides a thorough explanation and general background knowledge on the story. These bits grant the reader a greater scope of understanding and heighten their sense of awareness towards each story.


Reviewed by Ksenia, Grade 8, Gayton Library

Read + Review: Clem Hetherington and the Ironwood Race by Jen Breach



Clementine Hetherington and her robot brother, Digory are the children of a famous archaeologist. Clem and Dig have lost their parents, who have died. Having run away from their orphanage, they are living on the streets and are trying to convince a friend of their parents to let them join an excavation. They meet another old friend of their parents, who they don’t trust, to join them in a race to find artifacts. Clem and Dig refuse but then join the race as payment for saving Dig’s life. Others in the competition want to sell the artifacts in the black market, but Clem and Dig want to give them to a museum. Will Clem and Dig win the race and give the artifacts to the museum? Read the book to find out.

I liked that the book explored the topic of archaeology because it is a topic I find interesting. I also enjoyed the surprising way the book ended. I would say more, but I don’t want to spoil the ending. Another good thing about the book was the close bond that Clem had with Dig. I loved seeing how their bond changed as the book progressed.

The most memorable thing about the book was the way it handled the concepts of right and wrong. Is it wrong to sell to the black market? Is it right to hurt someone when they hurt you and your loved ones? The book discussed these questions and others when it worked through Clem’s character and helped the reader get a better understanding of right and wrong.


Reviewed by Anika, Grade 6, Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review: The History of Philosophy by Anne Rooney


The book, The History of Philosophy, is a fact-fascinating experience. From the existence of god to the way we live our lives, this book has it all! One can expect to find philosophy enlightening once this book is thoroughly read. Will the secrets of philosophy become revealed to you? Read the book to learn more about this engrossing study!

 A very captivating book, it explains why it was such a page-turner! Moreover, this book is also in the genre nonfiction, my most favorite genre of books. What I loved about this book was about how it stated the different interpretations of god by different people and cultures. These interpretations showed me the diversity of all people on Earth. It even explained my religion a little more in-depth! I believe I may have to read this book in the future again for later reference since there is so much to learn!

What I loved about this book is that it left me thinking. Not every book is that inspirational to me. Now, I am always asking questions about the principles of philosophy. Where did we come from? Is there someone watching over us? Is karma real? I ponder over these questions all the time. Questions like these that cannot be answered are important concerns for many people, including me. One day, we may answer these questions and know the true facts.


Reviewed by Risshi, Grade 6, Twin Hickory