Stories With Ms. Jenna

Storytimes, Programs, Booklists, and More!

2014 Favorites: Adult

Top 10:


10. Alex + Ada, Volume 1 by Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughn


9. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


8. The Martian by Andy Weir


7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

saga3 saga4

6. Saga, Volume 3 & Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples


5. Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David López


4. Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare


3. Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok


2. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen


1. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Leave a comment »

2014 Favorites: Young Adult

Honorable Mentions:

onemang waistcoats howitwent
portchicago shadowhero

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, Sonny Liew

Top 10:


10. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi


9. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins


8. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


7. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson


6. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour


5. Half Bad by Sally Green


4. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


3. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona


2. When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds


1. Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

Leave a comment »

2014 Favorites: Middle Grade

Honorable Mentions:

fivesixseven dory snickerofmagic
targetpractice gracefully sisters

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Top 10:


10. Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord


9. Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, Greg Salsedo


8. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee


7. The Riverman by Aaron Starmer


6. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell


5. The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, LeUyen Pham


4. Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff


3. Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin


2. Greenglass House by Kate Milford


1. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

Leave a comment »

2014 Favorites: Picture Books

Honorable Mentions:

kidsherriff watercanbe babytree

thepilot threebears

The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall
Water Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea, Lane Smith
The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry by Peter Sís
Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

Top 10:


10. Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson


9. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen


8. A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey, Floyd Cooper


7. The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee


6. Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox, Brian Floca


5. Hermelin: The Detective Mouse by Mini Grey


4. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, Christian Robinson


3. Coming Home by Greg Ruth

eastercat2 santacat

2. Here Comes the Easter Cat / Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, Claudia Rueda


1. Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Brigette Barrager

1 Comment »

10 Most Anticipated 2015 Middle Grade Books

Looks like 2015 will be another great year of middle grade! Here are the top 10 books I cannot wait to get my hands on:


Nnewts: Book 1 by Doug TenNapel (1/6)

I’ve really enjoyed TenNapel’s previous graphic novels with their fast-paced adventurous stories and vibrant art. This new one is the start to a series!


Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (2/24)

I have yet to read a book by this author, but I will definitely read this one. It’s almost 600 pages and follows various characters all connected by a harmonica. Consider me intrigued!


Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin (2/24)

I haven’t finished my best-of-2014 lists yet, but you can bet Loftin’s Nighingale’s Nest will be on there. This new book follows a girl with cancer and a boy who doesn’t fit in with his family. Together, they plan an escape.


The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy #3) by Shannon Hale (3/3)

It’s a new (and the last!) Princess Academy book. Of course I will read it. Of course I will love it.


Jack by Liesl Shurtliff (4/14)

In the vein of her first novel, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, Shurtliff brings us another fairy tale retelling- this time about Jack & The Beanstalk!


Gone Crazy in Alabama (Gaither Sisters #3) by Rita Williams-Garcia (4/21)

Another story about the Gaither Sisters! I want this series to continue on forever because I love spending time with these girls.


Cleopatra in Space #2: The Thief and the Sword by Mike Maihack (4/28)

I loved the first book in this graphic novel series about a time-displaced Cleopatra and can’t wait to see what happens next!


From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot (5/19)

I grew up on the Princess Diaries series, so I’m very excited that Cabot is exploring that world more!


Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff (5/26)

Graff is an automatic-read author for me. This new book is “a touching story about a boy who won’t let one tragic accident define him.”


The Golden Specific (The Mapmakers Trilogy #2) by S.E. Grove (7/14)

Immediately after finishing the first book in this series, The Glass Sentence, I deemed it my favorite middle grade fantasy since Harry Potter. Really hoping book 2 is just as amazing!

Leave a comment »

10 Favorite LGBT Characters in MG and YA Literature

Earlier today, VOYA tweeted out an article from Entertainment Monthly: Entertainment News from Emerson College titled The Top Ten LGBT Characters in Young Adult Literature. I applaud the author for trying to bring more awareness to LGBT books, but based on the comments, many are underwhelmed by the list or find it problematic. Big points of concern include that Dumbledore is on the list and that there’s a lot of David Levithan.

I’ve decided to create my own list of 10 great LGBT characters, but from both YA and MG literature. Also, I in no way can claim to have read enough books with LGBT characters to create an ultimate top 10 list, so instead, this is just my personal 10 favorites based on what I’ve read. I’d love to hear recommendations of your favorites! Presented in no particular order:

askthepassengers gracefullygrayson misadventuresofthe

10. Astrid from Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I think this was the first book I read with a LGBT character who I felt was a fully realized character. Astrid struggles with what to do about these new romantic feelings for a girl, but that’s just a portion of her character. She also deals with family problems and tries to figure out who she is as a whole person. Also, I’m pretty sure this was the first book I read with a lesbian relationship at the forefront… which is pretty sad considering I was 22 when I read this.

9. Grayson from Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

I was fortunate to receive an ARC of this upcoming MG book featuring a transgender girl. I was so thrilled to see a MG title about a transgender character. The entire book is quite gentle and entirely appropriate for it’s intended audience. I really hope this book finds it’s way into the hands of many young readers (and their parents, too!)

8. Dad and Papa from The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

Another MG title, this book is about a family of 4 boys being raised by 2 dads. I love that this book isn’t about gay dads, but rather about a whole family that happens to include 2 dads. I also love that Dad and Papa are very different characters and don’t fall into stereotypes.

freakboy aridante justoneday everythingleadsto

7. Angel from Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

When people talk about this book, they mostly talk about Brendan, but for me it’s really Angel who steals the story. She’s transgender and confident about herself despite having had to deal with many hardships when she was first transitioning. She tries to help others in similar situations by volunteering at a center for LGBT teens. She’s an inspirational and realistic character.

6. Ari and Dante from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A coming of age story about two Mexican-American teen boys who fall for each other. There’s a reason this book won so many awards. Stunning.

5. Dee from Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I was trying to keep this list about LGBT characters who are the main characters of the story, but I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t include Dee. Despite only being a side character, he’s really well developed. He’s also just an amazing friend and person. Please please, Gayle, give Dee his own story!

4. Emi from Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

This book isn’t a coming out story. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but this was huge for me because so rarely do I find a book with a LGBT character that isn’t their coming out story. In this story, Emi is dealing with the aftermath of a break-up from her long-time on-again-off-again girlfriend. She knows it’s finally time to move on, especially when Ava comes into her life. Rather than being a coming out story, this is a regular romance story journeying how a couple found their way to each other. And I found that so refreshing.

batwoman oneman fivesix

3. Batwoman from Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman

(I’m cheating a little with this one. It’s really aimed more at adults, but I would assume plenty of teens are reading it, too.) Lesbian superhero! That’s really all that needs to be said.

2. Ethan from One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

This is Alek’s story, but it’s love-interest Ethan who really stole my heart. He’s confident about his sexuality and isn’t a stereotype at all. He’s independent and daring but can also be so sweet. I totally understand why Alek fell in love with him.

1. Nate from Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle

We first met Nate in the MG book Better Nate Than Ever, but it’s in this sequel that we see him navigate a crush and possible relationship… all while dealing with being a star in a broadway show! Nate is so funny and lovable and I could just re-read these books over and over and over again.


Award Predictions

I am so very very excited that this year I will be attending ALA Midwinter, because this means I get to be in attendance when the Youth Media Awards are announced on Monday Jan. 27. Of the 2013 books I’ve read, here are my top picks for titles I think might snag an award:


Predicted Winner:


Journey by Aaron Becker

Predicted Honors:

mrtiger mrwuffles ifyouwant

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner
If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, Erin E. Stead


Predicted Winner:


Doll Bones by Holly Black

Predicted Honors:

trueblue billymiller realboy

The True Blue Scouts of the Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu


Predicted Winner:

boxers saints

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Predicted Honors:

midnight midwinterblood

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Leave a comment »

Anticipated Books of 2014

There are many many many books coming out next year that I am excited about. So, rather than list them all, I limited myself to 3 short lists. Most descriptions pulled from Goodreads.

-10 Standalones or Start of a New Series-

shadowhero stolensongbird winnerscurse

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, Sonny Liew: A revival of the first Asian American superhero, the Green Turtle. July 15.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen: For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. April 1.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined. March 4.

rulesofsummer dorothymustdie girlintheroad

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan: Never be late for a parade. Never forget the password. Never ruin a perfect plan. It’s all about the rules. But what if the rules feel completely arbitrary? What if your older brother is the only one who gets to make them up all summer long? And what if he’s the only one who can save you when the darkness of winter comes rushing in? April 29.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart. Steal the Scarecrow’s brain. Take the Lion’s courage. Then and only then—Dorothy must die! April 1.

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne: Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn’t know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail-an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea-she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she’s hoping the journey will illuminate it for her. May 20.

unfinishedlife sheisnot landline

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin: Two-time National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin offers an ingenious fictional take on the “oral history” celebrity bio that defined a bestselling genre: Edie, American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton. In presenting herself as interviewer and curator of memories, Adele paints the portrait of a tragic young celebrity who allegedly committed suicide-presented in a series of brief first-person recollections-that ultimately results in the solving of a murder. August 12.

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick: Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. April 22.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts… Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened? July 8.

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters: At the turn of the 20th century, a seventeen-year-old is hypnotized into seeing people’s true selves. Illustrated with late-Victorian images. (No cover image). Fall.

-10 Continuing Series-

fivesixseven hildablackhound

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo: Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. (No cover image). June 3.

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! (Nate #2) by Tim Federle: Nate Foster’s Broadway dreams are finally coming true. Armed with a one-way ticket to New York City, small-town theater geek Nate is off to start rehearsals for E.T.: The Broadway Musical . It’s everything he ever practiced his autograph for! But as thrilling as Broadway is, rehearsals are nothing like Nate expects: full of intimidating child start, cutthroat understudies, and a director who can’t even remember Nate’s name. January 21.

Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea Kontis: “Friday’s Child is loving and giving.” And so Dearest is the story of Friday Woodcutter, apprentice seamstress, with her generous heart and her patchwork skirts. Friday loves and is loved by all. But is she up to the challenge of solving the mystery that is Tristan Swan? (No cover image). October.

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by R.L. LaFevers: Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. (No cover image). November.

Hilda and the Black Hound (Hilda) by Luke Pearson: In Hilda’s new adventure, she meets the Nisse: a mischievous but charismatic bunch of misfits who occupy a world beside—but also somehow within—our own, and where the rules of physics don’t quite match up. Meanwhile, on the streets of Trolberg, a dark specter looms. May 13.

lairofdreams dreamsofgods shadowthrone

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray: After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities. August 5.

Untitled (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling: Cormoran Strike once again traverses the social strata of British society in search of answers in a case presented to his PI agency, setting in motion an dangerous and thrilling cat-and-mouse game reminiscent of the mystery genre’s greatest, most influential writers. (No cover image). August 1.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor: By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz. April 8.

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger: No description. (No cover image). Expected 2014.

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy #3) by Jennifer A. Nielsen: Jennifer A. Nielsen takes readers on an extraordinary journey in this final installment of the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Ascendance Trilogy. War is coming… Join Jaron as he embarks on his final adventure! February 25.

-5 Favorite Covers-


Pointe by Brandy Colbert: Theo is better now. She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor. April 10.


The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm: Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough… he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth? August 26.


Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him. With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people. January 28.


Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones: When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief. July 15.


Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine: There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally. August 5.

Which book are you most excited to get your hands on?

Leave a comment »

Best of 2013: Graphic Novels

This is my final “Best of 2013” post. Today I’m presenting my top 15 graphic novels for children and teens from 2013:

15. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani, Maris Wicks


14. Battling Boy by Paul Pope


13. Game On! (Squish #5) by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm


12. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Volume 2 by Heather Nuhfer, Amy Mebberson


11. The Misadventure of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso


10. Explorer: The Lost Islands by Various, Edited by Kazu Kibushi


9. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff


8. Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge


7. Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci, Sara Varon


6. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 4 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Sara Pichelli


5. Princeless Book Two: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin


4. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, Faith Erin Hicks


3. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

boxers saints

2. Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson


1. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell


Leave a comment »

Best of 2013: YA

I gave you lists of my favorite picture books and then my favorite middle-grade novels, and so today it is only fitting that I present my favorite YA novels of 2013:

10. The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee


9. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

boxers saints

8. Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers


7. Dare You To by Katie McGarry


6. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys


5. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson


4. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick


3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman


And my favorite YA novel… errr series (I’m cheating, I know), goes to the fabulous steampunk novels…

1. Etiquette & Espionage / Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

etiquette curtsies

Leave a comment »