Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Other Boys by Damian Alexander

Other Boys by Damien Alexander
First Second
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 9781250222824

Damien is a gay seventh grader at a new school accustomed to being bullied for not being like “other boys.” His home life is less than ideal, and he has always experienced bullying from family and classmates because of the things he enjoys that are considered “girly,” like dolls. He also prefers the company of girls, which makes other boys target him for bullying even more so. Things only become more confusing for Damian when he begins having crushes on boys, even though they’re almost all mean to him.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
Narrated by Soneela Nankani
Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
ISBN: 9781250820822

After the death of her boyfriend, Sam, Julie is left reeling. Then she finds a message from Sam in her yearbook and all she wants to do is hear his voice. Out of desperation, she calls his number, hoping to get his voicemail, but…he picks up. Julie doesn’t understand how it works, but all she knows is that she can speak to Sam again in a connection that extends past the realm of the living. As time goes on, Julie finds it more challenging than ever to let go.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

You’ll Be The Death of Me
by Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: November 30, 2021
ISBN: 9780593175866

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be best friends in middle school. Now estranged 11th graders, they come across each other and decide to skip school to relive ‘the best day ever’ from middle school. However, what began as a fun ditch day, quickly turns into real life danger – far beyond the walls of high school – and with real life consequences.

This mystery  begins with the cover itself and the plot is dramatic and includes a gossipy nature.  While the immediate mystery of the day deepens, so does the backstory of family relationships and secrets among these former friends. Chapters are short with alternating voices and the pace stays fast and intensifies as more secrets are uncovered.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
St. Martin’s Publishing
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
ISBN: 9781250244451

At the beginning of her freshman year, Chloe Green and her moms move from California to small town Alabama. Although it is not her scene, Chloe enrolls at Willowgrove Christian Academy which has excellent academics. There she is able to find her people through the drama club plus an academic rival in golden girl, Shara Wheeler – who disappears on senior prom night. Chloe and two unlikely allies, Smith, Shara’s boyfriend, and Rory, Shara’s neighbor, embark on a mission to find her before graduation. They must succeed, otherwise Chloe’s near certain valedictory triumph will ring hollow. Includes an author note at the beginning with content warnings of religious trauma and homophobia.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Mister Miracle by Varian Johnson and Daniel Isles

Mister Miracle: the Great Escape by Varian Johnson and Daniel Isles
DC Comics
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
ISBN: 9781779501257

Scott Free, an orphan raised at the Goodness Academy on the abysmal world known as Apokolips, is making plans to escape to Earth. Unfortunately, he has caught the attention of Granny Goodness and her Female Furies, specifically their new leader, Big Barda. However, against all the odds, Scott and Barda find common ground and their friendship turns into a romance. This new relationship is put to the test as Scott’s escape plan becomes more urgent, and both teenagers’ secrets are revealed. To accomplish the impossible, Scott will have to live up to his nickname, Mister Miracle. 

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Narrated by Rong Fu
PRH Canada Young Readers
Publication Date: September 20, 2021
ISBN: 9780735269972

Humans in Huaxia are constantly under attack from Hunduns, giant bug-like aliens. Humanity has created two-pilot robot war machines known as Chrysalises in order to protect themselves.  Boys dream of the chance to pilot a Chrysalis in order to find fame and honor. Girls, on the other hand, are either married off or serve as concubine co-pilots for Chrysalises. Concubine-pilots rarely survive a Hundun battle. Zetian joins Chrysalis training to avenge her older sister who was murdered by a Chrysalis pilot. She shocks the world by not only surviving her first battle, but taking full control of the Chrysalis on her own, an impossible task without the qi energy of both a male and female pilot. Zetian is then paired with the strongest pilot in the fleet: former prisoner Li Shimin. If Zetian wants to dismantle the Chrysalis system and stop the sacrifice of innocent girls, she will have to work with her new partner alongside help from her secret love interest, Yizhi, all while fooling eagle-eyed government officials and battling aliens.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow

You’d Be Home Now
by Kathleen Glasgow
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 9780525708049

Emory is lucky. She survived the car crash that killed the super popular Candy MontClair and provided the impetus for Emory’s older brother, Joey, to be shipped off to a rehab program in Colorado. Now left with physical and emotional scars from the trauma, Emory is trying to recover even as her mother places more responsibility on her to regulate the newly returned Joey’s behavior. Feeling unseen leaves Emory vulnerable to manipulation by her crush while weighing her down by the fear that her failures could be the cause of Joey’s relapse.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of Loveless by Alice Oseman

Loveless by Alice Oseman
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
ISBN: 9781338751932

White, British, romcom-loving teen Georgia has always been told that she would eventually find someone she would be attracted to, but Georgia is tired of waiting. For her first year at university, she is determined to find someone that she likes in that way. But after a few revelations, it starts to become clear to Georgia that attraction doesn’t work the same way for her as it seems to for everyone else. Good thing she has some amazing friends to help her figure things out.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

The Apothecary Diaries, v.2. By Natsu Hyuuga. Art by Nekokurage. Square Enix Manga, $10.99 (9781646090716). 

Maomao’s adventures as the official royal test taster continue! In this volume, Maomao faces the intrigues of the royal court while dealing with poisoning attempts against the Emperor’s wives.

Asadora! v.4. By Naoki Urasawa. VIZ Media / VIZ Signature, $14.99 (9781974722969). 

A lighthouse has been attacked by something resembling a giant creature, and Asa is called in by the government to find the monster before the Tokyo Olympics. With the monster’s reappearance, Asa continues the search for her family.

Blue Flag, v.8. By KAITO. VIZ Media, $12.99 (9781974720941). 

The conclusion of Blue Flag sees almost everyone’s secrets revealed and concludes the main characters’ romantic arcs.

Blue Giant Omnibus, v.1-2. By Shinichi Ishizuka. 2020. Seven Seas Entertainment, $19.99 (9781645058649). 

Dai is graduating soon, and while his friends are all cramming for exams, he spends every day playing his sax. Dai is going to be the world’s greatest jazz musician, and to be the best, he will need more than just passion.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

A-Okay. By Jarad Greene. HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley, $12.99 (9780063032859). 

Jay deals with acne, acne medicine side effects, friend drama, and figuring out romantic feelings, during a tumultuous eighth grade year.

Blackout. By Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books, $19.99 (9780063088092). 

Six distinct but connected stories highlight black resilience and love in the midst of a New York City-wide blackout.

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