Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Pumpkin Audiobook by Julie Murphy cover art

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy; narrated by Chad Burris
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release date: May 24, 2021
ISBN: 9780063088764

Look out, Clover City, you’ve got a new queen.

It’s not always easy to be the fat, flamboyantly gay kid in small-town Texas, which is why Waylon Brewer can’t wait until graduation. Then, he and his twin, Clementine, can move to Austin, and he can go full Waylon and become his best, fabulous self.  

Except Clementine doesn’t want to go to Austin, something Waylon finds out the same night his boyfriend dumps him. When Waylon hears the news, he impulsively creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show. Much to his dismay, the video is shared with his whole school, and he is nominated for Prom Queen. With help from some friends and some fellow queens, Waylon decides to embrace the nomination. Along the way, he learns that he doesn’t have to wait to be fully himself.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton and others

Blackout Cover art

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon; narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, A.J. Beckles, Jordan Cobb, Dion Graham, Imani Parks, Shayna Small, and Bahni Turpin
Quill Tree Books
Publication date: June 22, 2021
ISBN: 9780063088122

Blackout subtly weaves six unique novellas featuring Black characters by six Black authors into one connected story in New York City during a summer blackout. Tiffany D. Jackson’s story focuses on exes Tammie and Kareem who run into each other at the same summer internship opportunity. Nic Stone’s contribution is a queer male/male love story about Tremaine and JJ. Ashley Woodfolk tells a cute sapphic romance between Joss and Nella that takes place at a senior living facility. Dhonielle Clayton tackles a friends-to-lovers romance in the New York Public Library. Angie Thomas tells of a love triangle with some emotional baggage. Nicola Yoon’s meet cute of Seymour and Grace is a heartwarming end to this high-interest book about Black Love.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Middletown by Sara Moon

Middletown by Sarah Moon | Audiobook cover art

Middletown by Sarah Moon, narrated by Hope Newhouse
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Release date: April 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-1662083341

The story opens with thirteen year old Eli sleeping with her seventeen year old sister, Anna, while waiting for her mom to come home after a night of drinking. This time, their mom is caught drunk driving for the second time and is sentenced to mandatory rehab for at least 90 days. Anna and Eli struggle to find money to pay the bills and feed themselves while attending school and navigating parent-teacher conferences. On top of this, Eli has feelings for one of her best friends, Mina. At the same time, she finds out that Anna was sexually harassed by the coach at her high school and tries to encourage other girls to speak up. When the schools try to get in contact with a guardian and send a social worker to their home, Anna and Eli run away to try and find a place where they belong.

The narrator does a great job of capturing the different female voices within the story. The audiobook captures the pacing and progression of the story in an engaging way.

Similar to Crank by Ellen Hopkins, this story draws attention to the resilience required to overcome addiction and continue to be in relationship with family and friends. For readers who enjoy texts about being resilient, try Parenthesis by Élodie Durand, No Longer Human by Junji Ito, and The Sea in Winter by Christine Day.

– Caitlyn Seale 


The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

Some Girls Do Audiobook by Jennifer Dugan cover art

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan; narrated by Nora Hunter & Bailey Carr
Penguin Random House
Published: May 18, 2021
ISBN: 9780593397862

After track star Morgan is kicked out of her religious school for being queer, she wants a fresh, proud, start. However she finds that being openly queer and an elite athlete can be a complicated mix. All Ruby wants is to fix cars, but her overbearing mother has pageant dreams for her. When the two find their feelings growing they must contend with the dynamics of a relationship where only one person is out. 

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of The Cat I Never Named by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

The Cat I Never Named Audiobook By Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Laura L. Sullivan cover art

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess and Laura L. Sullivan; Narrated by Leila Buck
Recorded Books, Inc.
Publication date: December 29, 2020
ISBN: 9781705017708

Growing up in Bihac, Bosnia during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, Muslim teen Amra lived through unfathomable horrors, as told here in her memoir.  As war looms, then goes from bad to worse, Amra describes her circumstances and actions and those of her family and neighbors.  Facing potential death daily and barely able to feed themselves, a cat joins them. They need to turn it away, but when the cat seemingly saves her brother they choose to keep it around, much to their benefit over time.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee

K-Pop Confidential cover art

K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee; narrated by Joy Osmanski

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

Release date: October 6, 2020

ISBN: 9781338673401

Candace Park has been an obedient Korean daughter watching from the sidelines as her brother is allowed to participate in sports and indulge in music while she is expected to go to college and enter a mundane career.  That’s why her decision to audition for a spot in a K-Pop band is not only unexpected, but her subsequent invitation to join an intensive training program to become an idol is downright stunning. Candace convinces her staid parents to allow her to participate, and her mother accompanies her to Seoul where Candace lives in harsh conditions with cutthroat competitors.  

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

This Is Not the Jess Show Audiobook by Anna Carey cover art

This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey; narrated by Suzy Jackson

Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

ISBN: 9781094032535

Jess is living in the 90’s and dealing with some complicated issues. She has a major crush on her childhood best friend, unsupportive friends and a younger sister sick with a terminal illness. To make matters more complicated, unexplainable things start happening to Jess. She hears chanting no one else can, a flu knocks out half her classmates, and her best friends keep pressuring her to date the annoying school jock. When her sister ends up in the hospital, it’s the catalyst that Jess needs to slowly unravel a deep secret about the town.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Ever After Audiobook by Emiko Jean - 9781250804167

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean, narrated by Ali Ahn
Macmillan Audio
Release date: May 17, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250804167

First book of the Tokyo Ever After series, the story begins with a report from a newspaper about an unnamed princess. Juxtaposed between each news article, Izumi struggles with the “cultural punches” of beauty standards, not knowing her father, and being a unilingual Pan-Asian. When her friend Nora accidentally stumbles across a scrapbook with a name, Izumi has to decide whether she wants to learn more about her father, her father’s family, and herself.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Cover art for My Contrary Mary

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows; narrated by Fiona Hardingham
Publisher: Harper Audio
Release date: June 22, 2021
ISBN: 9780063087903

Mary, Queen of Scots, is an Eðian in a cutthroat world of Verities.  Despite her mouse form in a world of predators, she refuses to be a victim.  She may be caught between scheming deGuise uncles and a vicious Catherine de Medici, but she never forgets that she is a queen. Instead, she frees Eðians that have been captured and abused, retakes her throne, and discovers romantic love is possible, even in politically arranged marriages.

Hand, Ashton, and Meadows have spun off their Jane series and are now reimagining historical Marys. With their signature nods to actual history and several  hilarious homages to pop culture this well-crafted story of power and intrigue with a strong female protagonist is worth the listen. Fortunately, the characters are voiced by the consummate narrator, Fiona Hardingham. Hardinham flawlessly performs the multiplicity of accents (French, English, Scottish) enabling listeners to immediately recognize each character and breathes life into a rollicking tale that will appeal to teens.

Readers who enjoyed The Lady Jane Series (My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane–also narrated by Hardingham, and My Calamity Jane) will avidly devour this fantasy.

– Jodi Kruse

Other Nominated Titles

  • This Is Not The Jess Show by Anna Carey; narrated by Suzy Jackson (February 2, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall

Book cover for Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall

Our Last Echoes by Kate Alice Marshall; narrated by Kathleen McInerney, Robbie Daymond and Rob Shapiro
Listening Library
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
ISBN: 9780593340806

Bitter Rock has a long history of disappearances. In 2003, Sophia’s mother vanished and now years later, Sophia returns to discover the truth about what happened to her. Not everything is not as it seems. There is just something a little off, not quite right about Bitter Rock. The horrifying truth will have dire consequences for Sophia and the friends she meets on the island.

This horror novel weaves the supernatural with the psychological and forces the listener to ask, how well do we know our friends, our family? Can we trust what we see with our own eyes? This was deliciously creepy and Marshall did a great job of keeping the pace and the multiple narrators provided depth that provoked fear and sympathy for the characters.

Readers who enjoyed Marshall’s Rules for Vanishing, will be pleasantly surprised to see some minor characters featured more prominently in Our Last Echoes. However, one does not have to read one to enjoy the other. And for more island monsters, try Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand.

–Lorrie Roussin

Other Nominated Titles

  • My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows; narrated by Fiona Hardingham (June 22, 2021)
  • The Witch King (The Witch King Duology) by H.E. Edgmon; narrated by Dani Martineck (June 1, 2021)
  • Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom’s Graphic Memoir by Tyler Feder; narrated by Amanda Dolan (March 30, 2021)
  • Pumpkin (Dumplin’) by Julie Murphy; narrated by Chad Burris (May 25, 2021)
  • Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar; narrated by Reena Dutt and Shubhangi Karmakar (May 25, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.