Fire in the East – Warrior of Rome by Harry Sidebottom

“I’ve always been interested in history, particularly that of Rome and Greece. This series is fiction, however it is based off of true events and the main protagonist himself, Marcus Clodius Ballista, is based off an actual Roman general Ballista, also known as Callistus. A lot of the big plot points throughout the series (the assassination of the Roman Emperor Maximus Thrax) are actual events that did happen and if you’re familiar with the history of Rome you will recognize plenty of other names and places that appear throughout the series.” – Tony, Circulation

The series follows Ballista, an Anglo-Saxon turned Roman general as he attempts to navigate not only the bloodied battlefields of Rome but also the political turmoil of a Roman Empire on the brink of collapse.

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

“The author clearly loved her characters and I loved them too!” – Mary S., ATS

A year in the life of the Padilla family who live in a small town in New Mexico. Fifteen-year-old Angel is pregnant, her dad is unemployed and waiting to be saved, and her grandma takes care of everyone while harboring her own secret. The family navigates their hardships with humor, love, and grit.

Heartstopper Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

“The friendships and relationships portrayed in this book are so gentle and lovely. While many coming-of-age stories focus on the difficulties facing its main characters, Alice Oseman instead hones in on the development of genuinely caring and compassionate friendships that support each other in their instances of struggle.” – Lucas, Access Services

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. A sweet and charming coming-of-age graphic novel that explores friendship, love, and coming out. Also now a show on Netflix!

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

“Tokyo Ever After is filled with lovable characters, a sweet romance, and an even more endearing exploration of family relationships and identity. I devoured this and then quickly grabbed the sequel, Tokyo Dreaming! ” – Amanda, ATS

After learning that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan, Izumi travels to Tokyo, where she discovers that Japanese imperial life–complete with designer clothes, court intrigue, paparazzi scandals, and a forbidden romance with her handsome but stoic bodyguard–is a tough fit for the outspoken and irreverent eighteen-year-old from northern California.

The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

“Myers is a debut author who understands the world of women. I was immediately drawn into her characters and motivations, Maddie is a spunky and believable heroine. It almost wrapped up too neatly into a bow at the end, but it was a very satisfying read. Great for both teens and adults to devour.” – Joy, Adult & Teen Services

Maddie is growing up in post World War II North Carolina, with a sparkling gift for sewing just like her famous aunt who sews gorgeous clothes for the so called wealthy “Tobacco Wives”, essentially the former plantation owner’s wives who run the local tobacco plants that employ entire towns. Seen through the eyes of an adolescent, Maddie is swept away into her aunt’s business after her mother foists her off to work for her. When Maddie is starting to realize that tobacco is causing alarming health issues among these same wives, she wants to sound the alarm, but the powers that be have other plans to silence any possible concerns.

I Am Golden by Eva Chen & Sophie Diao

“The words and illustrations in this book are incredibly uplifting and gave me such positive affirmations. I wish that I had books and messages like this when I was growing up. Reading this book felt like my inner child was receiving a big, warm hug!” – Van, ATS

This gorgeous picture book exudes joy and celebration of identity. Through a young, first-generation Chinese American girl named Mei, readers are empowered and uplifted through messages from her parents of why she is amazing.

The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

“I loved learning more about written American Sign Language and the Deaf community. A great realistic teen read with romance and disability representation!” – Kira, Adult & Teen Services

Deaf teen Maya moves across the country and must attend a hearing school for the first time. As if that wasn’t hard enough, she also has to adjust to the hearing culture, which she finds frustrating—and also surprising when some classmates, including Beau Watson, take time to learn ASL. As Maya looks past graduation and focuses on her future dreams, nothing, not even an unexpected romance, will not derail her pursuits. But when people in her life—Deaf and hearing alike—ask her to question parts of her Deaf identity, Maya stands proudly, never giving in to the idea that her Deafness is a disadvantage.

Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing

“With a great sense of place–Chicago, no less, and relatable characters, this is an enjoyable read about following your passions and finding your voice.” – Lora, Kids Room

With her two best friends in a different 5th-grade class, Maya figures it’s going to be a bummer of a school year. But her discovery of a robot named Ralph might help change that.

Chi-Raq by Spike Lee

“Told with a Shakespeare beat, an honest and thoughtful movie to bring about real change.” – Kelly, Kids Room 

After the murder of a child by a stray bullet, a group of women organizes against the ongoing violence in Chicago’s Southside, creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex, and violence in America and around the world.

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu

“Every kid desperately wants to fit in. It’s even harder when your parents make you move! In this graphic novel, Cici, a 12-year-old who has recently moved to Seattle from Taiwan, has so much going for her: a family who cares, a cooking hobby that she’s really great at, even new BFFs who will stand up for her at the drop of a hat. By sidestepping the usual kid-who-moved storylines, author Lily LaMotte presents to us a much more delicious story: a cooking competition! And to spice it up even more, illustrator Ann Xu draws all the dishes for us to see- and wish that we could taste.” – DG Library Staff

Cici, who has recently moved to Seattle from Taiwan, deeply misses her grandmother back home. She enters a cooking competition hoping to win enough money to invite A-ma over for a birthday visit! Torn between being true to her heritage and trying to fit in (and also obeying her parents and learning to stand up for herself), will she be able to find her place and win against her new friend/archenemy Miranda- whose family OWNS a restaurant?