Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

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 field nomination form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.


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Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston; narrated by Imani Parks
Balzer + Bray
Release date: 19 January 2021
ISBN: 9780063057968

In this first book of the Supernatural Investigations series, the story begins with Amari Peters being called into the principal’s office on the last day of school and having her scholarship rescinded for physically responding to online and in-person bullying. As her summer begins, Amari Peters is grounded and her personal device is taken away as she struggles with how to continue searching for her missing brother, Quinton. She gets a mysterious delivery that leads her to join a summer camp, gain a best friend, and find her brother.

The narrator does an exceptional job channeling Amari’s character and her frustrations with learning to accept her various social identities instead of comparing herself to her brother. The audiobook captures the world-building and fast-paced adventure aspects of the story well. 

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 4 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger Book Cover
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai
Levine Querido 
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
ISBN: 978-1646140053

Lipan Apache teenager Elatsoe “Ellie” Bride lives in an alternate modern world populated by ghosts and vampires and fairy rings. Ellie has inherited the power to call on animal spirits, and she is content to explore her abilities slowly and quietly. But then her cousin Trevor dies in a violent car accident, and his ghost appears in a dream to warn Ellie that he’s been murdered, begging her to protect his family. Now Ellie must tread carefully to track a killer in a seemingly perfect small town, helped by her overly-enthusiastic best friend, her ghost dog Kirby, and the stories she’s learned about the abuses suffered and powers wielded by her powerful sixth-great-grandmother.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 4 Edition

Hub Bloggers Love: Recent Young Adult Romances

Valentine’s Day might be over but that doesn’t mean some readers aren’t still in the mood to fall in love with a good love story!  If you’re looking for some recent titles to spice up a suddenly sparse book display or you’re in need of some new recommendations for your eager romantic readers, the Hub bloggers are here for you!HubLoveRomance

This week we’ve gathered together to showcase just a few of our recent favorite young adult romances.  Some of our picks are well-known titles while others might have slipped under the radar.  Either way, we hope you’ll find something new and exciting to read or share.  Want even more romantic reading inspiration? Check out Dawn Abron’s latest Diversify YA Life post highlighting interracial couples in young adult fiction or search our tags for past romance book lists.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2016 Morris Award Winner; 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

After several months anonymously corresponding with a classmate he knows only as Blue, Simon Spier is sure of several facts: he is definitely gay, he is falling in love with Blue, and he does not want to share either of these realities with anyone else–at least, not yet.  But then Simon’s emails fall into the wrong hands and suddenly, his–and Blue’s–secrets are in serious danger of being revealed.  Can Simon find a way to come out on his own terms, without causing even more drama amidst his increasingly complicated group of friends, becoming the center of unwanted attention at school, or–worst of all–losing his chances with Blue, the perfect boy he’s never met? -Kelly D.

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

In high school, Gretchen and Toni were that couple.  They prided themselves on the fact that they never fought and their friends all joked that they were already practically married.  Gretchen and Toni had the kind of love everyone else envied.  Then Gretchen decides that she’s not coming to Boston with Toni in the fall–she’s going to try out NYU for at least a semester instead, abandoning the plan the two have carefully constructed.  Toni is angry and Gretchen is guilty but still they’re convinced that they’re going to make it.  But while Toni, who’s quietly identified as genderqueer for about a year, finds a new sense of belonging with a group of older transgender students, Gretchen struggles to redefine herself as someone other than Toni’s girlfriend.  Is love enough or is the distance between more than mere geography?  – Kelly D.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Sandwiched between the dependable Margot and mischievous Kitty, Lara Jean feels secure as the shy and quirky middle Song sister. She’s content being the one who stays home to scrapbook or bake on Friday night and she finds expression for her unrequited crushes in writing letters that she hides in a hatbox under her bed. But then Margot is heading off to Scotland for college and within weeks, disaster strikes when Lara Jean’s secret letters are mistakenly mailed out.   Now all her past crushes are coming back to haunt her as her first kiss, her camp crush, and the boy next door ( also Margot’s ex-boyfriend) each confront her about the letters.  And suddenly Lara Jean’s dependable and tidy life is spinning out of control.  -Kelly D. Continue reading Hub Bloggers Love: Recent Young Adult Romances

Putting Women Back in the Narrative: Historical Fiction That Remembers The Ladies

It was pretty much inevitable that I would become a Hamilton addict.  As both an American history nerd and a musical theatre geek, I found Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant musical exploring the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding of the United States irresistible from the moment I first listened to the opening number. However, my love of Hamilton comes not only from Miranda’s incredibly well-crafted soundtrack and book but also from his clear interest in highlighting perspectives often left out of the historical record, including the voices and experiences of women.
Obviously, I am not the first to notice this; articles like Michael Schulman’s “The Women of Hamilton and Constance Gibbs’ “How the Hero of Hamilton the Musical is a Woman”  explore the powerful ways that Miranda’s writing and the performances of Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones illuminate the often unacknowledged perspectives, experiences, and contributions of women in our history.  Singing along to songs like “The Schuyler Sisters,” “Satisfied,” and “Burn,” I can’t help but feel the urge to read some great historical fiction that places women and their stories in the spotlight.

Continue reading Putting Women Back in the Narrative: Historical Fiction That Remembers The Ladies

2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: New Adults

Sorry this wrap-up is so late, dear Hubbers – conferences always knock me out for at least a week after. Anyways, I was happy to attend the “New Adulthood: Literature & Services for NA Patrons” presented by Meg Hunt Wilson, Teen Librarian & Reference Librarian in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (my home state!) and our own Hub member manager, Molly Wetta, Collection Development Librarian at the Lawrence (Kansas) Public Library. They focused on  four aspects of the NA market – what is new adult, appeal and marketing, booktalks, and library services. I was thoroughly fascinated by their presentation, and without further ado – here’s the highlights of their talk at the 2015 YALSA YA Services Symposium.

ya_symposium_2015

 

So – what is New Adult?

New adult titles are geared towards teens who are just past high school life – 18-25 years of age is the common age range. NA books began as a self-publishing phenomenon, but eventually move on to the “regular” publishing world. The books are mostly set on college campuses, are relationship centric, fast-paced, and emotionally intense. And, oooh! Are they ever steamy! As one of my teens told me when I told her about this panel: “aren’t those the books with a lot of sex in them?” Continue reading 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: New Adults

Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Booklist

November 20th marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember those who have been killed because of their gender identity or expression. While there are not yet many children’s and young adult books featuring transgender characters, here are a few books that can be used in a display or program.

I Am JazzPicture books are a great way for a person to engage briefly with an idea, and most are written for children, so the language is accessible to a wide variety of people.

  • Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. This story of a blue crayon who is mistakenly labeled “red” is a great way to introduce young children to a character who doesn’t fit the label s/he’s been given.
  • I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. This is the picture-book biography of Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen who publicly came out when she was still in kindergarten.
  • My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis. This story of a boy who enjoys sparkly, pink things is another way to introduce the idea of being gender-nonconforming in an accessible format.
  • Be Who You Are by Jennifer Carr. This picture book is the story of Hope, a fictional character who was born Nick and comes to the realization that she is, in fact, a girl.
  • Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay. This is an account of Charley Parkhurst, a California stagecoach driver who was discovered, upon death, to be a woman who had been living life as a man.

beyond-magentaNonfiction books can provide information, especially when readers are reluctant to search online in fear that someone may see what they’ve been searching for.

  • Transparent by Cris Beam. Beam profiles four transgender teens at a school for transgender students in Los Angeles. This narrative nonfiction has been described as carefully written and sensitive to a sensitive topic.
  • Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews. Arin tells the story of his transition and life as a trans teen in this autobiography.
  • Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill. Katie, who at one time was dating Arin, tells her side of the story in her transition as a transfeminine teen.
  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (2015 Stonewall Honor Book). This collection of photographs and interviews with transgender and gender-noncomforming teens is another easily accessible way for those who are not familiar with the concept of being transgender to take a brief walk in another person’s shoes.
  • My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein. Hands-down this was the most recommended book when I asked those in the trans* community to identify books that would be helpful to teens and those who work with teens.
  • Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein. While this book doesn’t focus singly on issues affecting the transgender community, it is true that transgender people have a higher rate of suicide than their cisgender counterparts. This book is a list of suicide alternatives, some silly and some serious.

Continue reading Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Booklist

Reading List for International Women’s Day

The UN's theme for International Women's Day this year is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!
The UN’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, a holiday born out of women protesting their work in garment factories, trying to get the right to vote, and later just celebrating and trying to better the roles of women in the world. In fact in the United States, the U.K. and Australia, the entire month of March is identified as a celebration of Women’s History.

For many people, celebrating women’s history and women in general goes hand in hand with being a feminist. In 2014, feminist – being a person who believes in gender equality – became a cultural concept very much in the spotlight. Reporters and bloggers asked celebrities if they identified as feminists; Beyonce performed at the MTV music awards in front of a giant “FEMINIST” sign; and Time magazine controversially added the word to a poll of words to be banned. Other serious issues such as campus rape and Gamergate harassment made the lives of women and their treatment take center stage.

I didn’t self-identify as a feminist until middle or high school because I didn’t know that there was a word for what I had felt my whole life: that women and girls were unquestioningly the equal to men and boys and that we had the right to exciting, meaningful, and amazing books. I feel so happy and privileged to go up in a house where my 8 year old intention to be a brain surgeon during the day and a concert pianist at night was met with a supportive, “Ok.” I didn’t quite reach those heights but my family never made me feel like I couldn’t do that because I was a girl. Sadly, this is not the norm throughout the whole world, and not even in the United States.

Tangibly, materially, and in terms of rights and freedoms, there is a lot to be done for women and girls throughout the world and our country. But one of the things libraries and bookstores and readers can do is to read about lives of women and girls. By reading and sharing stories of women and girls we can show others the amazing things women can do. We can also share the struggles of women and girls and help inspire change.

Here are just a handful of books I’ve read recently that have a strong, pro-women message. They present women and girls who are strong without being caricatures; emotional without being a harmful stereotype; and most of all, full realized characters with hopes, dreams, and struggles.


gabiGabi, a Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris winner and Amelia Bloomer Project list): Gabi is a girl that I simultaneously wish I knew in high school or had been in high school. She doesn’t have all the answers but is still so confident in herself even when dealing with sexuality, her weight, family tragedies, her friends’ pregnancy and coming out, and more. She has a wonderful message of power and sense of self that speaks well to girls both struggling and not. This is also one of the few YA books I’ve read with abortion as a plot point.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman (2013 Alex Award): Rory Dawn has a hard life growing up in her Nevada trailer park and desperately wants to be a Girl Scout. This is a great meditation on the expectations of girlhood and poverty.  Continue reading Reading List for International Women’s Day

Black Lives Matter: Building Empathy Through Reading (Part II)

black livesYesterday, I wrote about the duty all librarians and educators share to instill empathy and compassion in our young readers by actively promoting books that engage and educate them in the experiences of others. You can read my first post on this topic here and see the books I recommend from Slavery through Jim Crow. I’m continuing that post today with books that address various aspects of the Civil Rights Movement as well as novels that look at contemporary teenage Black lives.

Civil Rights

John Lewis is a civil rights legend and his graphic novel memoir March: Book One (2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound, 2014 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens) should be required reading in classrooms across America. The book details his childhood in rural Alabama, his introduction to non-violence, the founding of the SNCC, and ends with the historic lunch counter sit-ins in the late 1950s. With the sequel coming out today, it’s the perfect time to showcase both works!

lies we tell ourselves by Robin TalleyRobin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves is a fictionalized account of the desegregation of schools in the late 1950s. Set in 1959, the story is told in two voices: Sarah, one of ten Black students attending the all-white high school in Davisburg, Virginia, and Linda, the white daughter of a prominent newspaperman intent on keeping segregation alive. The visceral accounts of Sarah’s first days at school alone make the book worth reading but it is the examination of how internal change can and does happen that truly makes the novel a compelling read.

Another book told in two voices is Revolution by Deborah Wiles which follows Sunny, a young white girl, as she grapples with the tumultuous changes happening around her during 1964’s Freedom Summer and Raymond, a young Black boy, who is coming to terms with the vast disparities between his community and the white community that surrounds him. Despite focusing more heavily on Sunny’s story, the book provides extraordinary insight into an era by incorporating numerous primary sources ranging from photographs, SNCC recruiting brochures, song lyrics, and even KKK pamphlets….fascinating stuff!

Kekla Magoon’s debut novel The Rock and the River won the 2010 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent when it came out and with good reason. A complex and layered look at the struggle for civil rights, the book tells the story of 13-year-old Sam, son of a well-known Civil Rights activist. As the story begins, Sam follows his father’s belief in non-violence unquestioningly until tragedy strikes and he finds himself siding more and more with his older brother who is a follower of the Black Panthers. The books offers no easy answers and is eloquent in its portrayal of a time fraught with tension and change. Continue reading Black Lives Matter: Building Empathy Through Reading (Part II)

Diverse YA Titles to Look for at ALA Annual

Photo Jun 22, 6 52 28 PMAs a follow-up to Hannah Gómez’s post #DiversityatALA about the current movement to be vocal about the need for more diversity in YA literature (#weneeddiversebooks), and Kelly Dickinson’s post featuring LGBTQ titles, I’m here to list some upcoming YA books that contain non-white, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendered or differently-abled characters that you should be on the lookout for. If you are attending the ALA Annual Conference this weekend in Vegas, ask the publishers about ARCs for many of these. Not all of them will be available as ARCs because some aren’t being published until 2015, but publishers’ reps should still be able give you the scoop on them.

To start, I’m including a few recent notable books that you probably know about and a few that aren’t as obvious because the reviews might not have mentioned their diverse content, or you can’t tell from their jacket flaps.

Photo Jun 23, 2 15 16 AMFreakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) is a novel about a transgendered boy while a strong pick for a nonfiction book about transgendered teens is Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.

I wasn’t aware that  the main character Chevron “Chevie” is descended from the Shawnee Native American tribe in Eoin Colfer’s Warp: Book 1 the Reluctant Assassin until I started reading it. The second book in the series, Hangman’s Revolution is coming out today. Park in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Printz Honor book) is half-Korean.

In Stick by Andrew Smith the main character “Stick” is differently-abled because he was born without an ear & his older brother is gay. Chasing Shadows by Swati Avashi has a main character of Indian descent and there’s a lot about Hindu mythology in the book.

Photo Jun 19, 11 31 11 AMPadma Venkatraman’s A Time to Dance is about a classical Indian dance prodigy whose life seems to be over after she becomes a below-the knee amputee.

Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot is a fantasy flavored by Native American cultures and Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore features a lesbian character.

Now that you’re up to speed on recently-published diverse titles, here are some upcoming books with diverse content to keep an eye out for at ALA Annual and other conferences:

  • Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks, August  2014) is Photo Jun 22, 11 44 43 AMa ghost story about Okiko, whose spirit has wandered the world for centuries delivering punishment to monsters who hurt children,  but when she meets teenaged Tark, she tries to free him from the demon that invaded him.
  •  Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (Penguin, August 2014) A 15-year-old teen girl loses her eyesight the summer before high school after a firecracker misfires into a crowd.
  •  Positive: a Memoir by Paige Rawl (HarperCollins, August 2014) (NF). Memoir of Paige Rawl, HIV positive since birth, who was bullied in school once she disclosed her HIV-positive status and from that moment forward, every day was like walking through a minefield.  Continue reading Diverse YA Titles to Look for at ALA Annual