”One to Watch” by Kate Stayman-London

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like “One To Watch,” but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this recent release. In the book, Bea is described as a “devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger” who is looking for someone new after her heart is broken by her long-time crush. She agrees to be the star of a reality show, Main Squeeze. If you are familiar with The Bachelorette, the show, Main Squeeze, in this book is very similar. Bea is determined to show America that a plus-size woman deserves to have a fairy tale romance with prince charming, just like everyone else.

— Kristen Wallo, adult programming librarian, Valley Community Library

”With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo

I often read books to escape reality, but sometimes is nice to read something that feels so realistic the way it addresses the character’s life. “With The Fire On High” is a book that does this by showing how a teenage mom can have all the odds can be stacked against us. She faces an unexpected pregnancy, problems at school, difficulty trying to navigate life, and yet, she still finds a way to overcome all of this. I loved the Spanish, culture, and recipes sprinkled throughout the book and would love to try each dish mentioned. What surprised me most about this read was how inspirational it was and how many quotes that I loved. After finishing this, I could have filled my entire quote note book, which I use to record my favorite quotes from all the books I’ve read. This young adult book has so much to offer.

— Fawn Contreras, youth services clerk, Valley Community Library

”Slay” by Brittney Morris

As one of the only black kids in her high school, Kiera finds that she needs a place to escape to where she feels she can be herself. She creates this place in a secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY, in which thousands of black gamers worldwide play against each other. No one knows that she is the creator of this game, but pressure is put on her when a teen is murdered for something that happened in her virtual world. The secret of SLAY is out and labeled by the media as racist and discriminatory. Will Kiera be able to save her game and keep her identity a secret?

It’s important to note that you do not need to be a gamer to enjoy this novel. Kiera is a likeable and realistic character; she doesn’t pretend to have all the answers and is just trying to navigate her way through life like everyone else. It covers timely and difficult topics realistically and gracefully with genuine characters who reveal their own issues and challenges throughout the story.

— Michelle Georgetti, director, Valley Community Library

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