Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

Narrated by Yetide Badaki

Listening Library | Penguin Random House Audio

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

ISBN: 9780593609743

In Skin of the Sea, listeners met Simi, a Mami Wata who collects the souls of those who die at sea, and traveled with her as she journeyed to save humanity. In Soul of the Deep, Simi discovers that despite her best intentions, her sacrifice may not have been enough. Olokun did not fulfill their promise to return Esu to Oludumare. Without Esu to bind them, the demon ajogun are threatening to break free and destroy the world. Simi must free Esu and return to the land to seal the gateway between worlds before the ajogun can escape.  Along the way, Simi enlists the help of Kola-whom she thought she would never see again. Even though she knows they can never be together, their reunion is an opportunity for hope and connection.

Yetide Badaki brings characters to life with depth and nuance. Her narration brings West African spiritual beliefs to life with lots of Black girl magic in a beautiful mesh of history and myth. The audio version is especially powerful as it recenters the rich oral storytelling traditions at the heart of this narrative.

Fans of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor will love the weaving of intricate world building, mythology, romance, and high-stakes adventure found in these books. 

–Josie Snow and Katie Patterson

Other Nominated Titles: 

  • Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate; narrated by Riley Redgate (04/05/2022)
  • The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling; narrated by Katie Koster and Kristen DiMercurio (12/7/2021)
  • When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez; narrated by Elisabet Velasquez (09/21/2021)
  • Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane; narrated by Dana Wing Lau (09/14/2021)
  • Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez; narrated by Ana Osorio (05/31/2022)
  • K-Pop Revolution by Stephan Lee; narrated by Joy Osmanski (04/05/2022)

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.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

These Deadly Games

by Diana Urban

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Imprint: 

Release date: 

ISBN: 9781250797193

16-year old Crystal Donovan is laser focused on the upcoming Mortal Dusk gaming tournament, which she will be competing in with her e-sports team.  Suddenly everything changes when she begins receiving frightening messages on an app that mysteriously appears on her phone. Someone has kidnapped her sister Caelyn, and to get her back, Crystal will have to play the most dangerous game of her life. Although the tasks seem harmless enough at first, it becomes increasingly clear that they are aimed at hurting Crystal’s closest friends and teammates. Could the person behind the app be a Mortal Dusk competitor? Or could it have to do with an event that happened five years ago that Crystal and her friends swore to keep secret? 

Urban constructs a fast-paced, contemporary thriller. Although the twists in the story are slightly predictable, the plot remains engaging throughout. Flawed characters and complicated friendships between Crystal and her teammates are realistic and relatable. The focus on games and technology will also appeal to today’s tech-savvy and connected teens. Librarians should be aware that the title contains contents dealing with  death, domestic abuse, panic attacks, anorexia, and racism.

Fans of fast-past thrillers and suspense, who don’t mind a bit of violence will enjoy this book.  Hand this to teens who enjoyed Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry, Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard, The Wild by Owen Laukkanen, or Out of the Fire by Andrea Contos.

— Julianne Novetsky

Other Nominated Titles

Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry  (May 24, 2022)

Live, Laugh, Kidnap by Gabby Noone (May 20, 2022)

Trigger by N. Griffin (March 29, 2022)

Counting Scars by Melinda Di Lorenzo (August 16, 2022)

Jumper by Melanie Crowder  (June 21, 2022)

Gold Mountain by Betty G. Yee (April 5, 2022)


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.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
Little, Brown Young Readers
September 27, 2022
ISBN: 9780316442060

Kofi Offin experiences the joys and difficulties of village life in 1860’s Ghana.  He enjoys the storytelling of his elders and swimming in the nearby river, while maintaining friendships and rivalries with his peers.  When Kofi’s brother  accidentally kills a member of a rival tribe in a wrestling match, the bonds of tradition and family run deep and strong.  Though repeatedly warned not to leave the confines of the village after dark, Kofi goes for a nighttime swim.  Tragically, he is captured into the slave trade, and taken to ‘the door of no return’ where a terrifying trans-Atlantic journey begins.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of The Well by Jake Wyatt and Choo

The Well by Jake Wyatt and Choo
First Second / Macmillan Publishers
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
ISBN-13: 9781626724143

Li-Zhen (Lizzy) lives a simple life: helping her grandfather raise goats, flirting with the woman who runs the ferry, and selling cheese and milk at the market. But she finds her life upended when she steals coins from a magical wish-granting well in order to cover a debt. Now Lizzy must find a way to pay the well back—but it won’t be satisfied with just coins. Instead, it needs wishes. Lizzy will have to find a way to grant the wishes she stole and break the curse, lest she be dragged down into the deep.

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of The Well by Jake Wyatt and Choo

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho

The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho

Narrated by Raechel Wong

Harper Collins Publishers, Inc. | Harper Teen

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN:9780063059375

CW: Suicide

Maybelline Chen is a typical teenager and far from the perfect Chinese-Taiwanese daughter her mother expects. Her smart, kind, athletic, Princeton-bound older brother Danny, however, can do no wrong. Unknown to Danny’s family, he has been struggling with severe depression and when he commits suicide, May’s life is shattered. On top of dealing with her own loss and her grieving parents, a local rich, white venture capitalist claims that Danny committed suicide because his parents put too much “pressure” on him and that these extreme expectations from Asian parents are why so many white students are struggling with mental health and academics. May’s parents tell her to keep her head down and ignore the comments. But how can May stay silent? Who gets to say which experiences get told and which are ignored? Soon, May and her friends begin a school campaign to take back their narratives and find justice for Danny’s memory.

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic by Debbie Rigaud

A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic
by Debbie Rigaud
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Imprint: Scholastic Press
Release date: August 2, 2022
ISBN: 9781338681741

Cicely’s favorite day of the year is the West Indian Day Parade, which also happens to fall on her fifteenth birthday. Even better, her Hatian Vodou practicing aunt turned social media influencer has invited her and her best friend, Renee, to her podcast interview with mega-star Papash! But everything goes haywire when one of her aunt’s clients performs a ritual that causes her aunt to be possessed by a mischievous, beauty-loving spirit. Cicely, Renee, and Cicely’s crush, Kwame, are in a race around Brooklyn to locate the items they need to exorcise the spirit while avoiding Cicely’s parents, Kwame’s rowdy friends, and the angry client–all before the podcast taping! 

Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic by Debbie Rigaud

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson
Heartdrum/HarperCollins
May 10, 2022
ISBN: 9780063086166

The summer after she graduates high school, Lou is working at her family’s ice-cream shack, waiting to head off for university in the fall.

Lou is Metis, and lives with her mother in farmland in small-town Alberta. While she knows her mother’s family, who are Indigenous, she knows nothing for certain about her white father or his family. 

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Kaiju No. 8, Vols. 1 & 2 by Naoya Matsumoto

Kaiju No. 8, Vols. 1 & 2 by Naoya Matsumoto
Shueisha
Publication Date: Vol. 1: December 7, 2022, Vol. 2: April 5, 2022
ISBN: Vol. 1: 9781974725984, Vol 2: 9781974727148

When Kafka was a kid, he made a pact with his childhood friend, Mina, to one day join the military organization Japan Defense Force and kill as many Kaiju as possible to keep Japan safe from monsters. In the present, Mina is leading a division of the JDF and Kafka is a member of Kaiju Corpse Cleanup, having failed multiple military entry tests. However, a new rule means he has one more chance to join… the only thing stopping him now is that he also happens to be part Kaiju!

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Kaiju No. 8, Vols. 1 & 2 by Naoya Matsumoto

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

When We Make It

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Narrated by Elisabet Velasquez

Books on Tape | Listening Library

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

ISBN: 9780593455937

This novel in verse follows Sarai, a first generation Puerto Rican growing up in Bushwick with her mother and her sister during the 1990s. Sarai and her family navigate the welfare system, as well as finding housing in a neighborhood with increasing gentrification. Along the way, Sarai asks questions that bring her closer to herself and her own definition of what it means to make it, as she fights all the narratives and opinions that are forced upon her by a society that actively works against her intersectional identities. 

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Love Radio

Love Radio

by Ebony LaDelle

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Imprint: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 

Release date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 9781665908153

Prince is a romantic at heart, but he has not got time for love unless it’s helping the callers on his radio show, Love Radio. Dani is focused on her plan to receive a scholarship to study in New York and become a famous author. She doesn’t have time for love. Then Dani and Prince meet. Prince has had a crush on Dani since middle school and wants to prove he’s worth her time. He gets Dani to promise him three dates, and if after that she’s not in love with him he’ll leave her alone. Dani agrees, and as the dates go on she finds herself falling for the sweet, sincere romantic. But a trauma in Dani’s past just might get in the way of these two finding true love.

Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle