Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of In the Serpent’s Wake by Rachel Hartman 

In the Serpent’s Wake by Rachel Hartman

Narrated by Katharine Lee McEwan

Listening Library

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

ISBN: 9781524779603

In this sequel to Tess of the Road, Tess Dombegh has traded travel on the road for adventure on the southern seas. After the death of the great World Serpent Anathuthia, Tess hears rumors of another great serpent living in the far south and soon finds herself convincing the leader of an expedition, Countess Margarethe, that she should come along. Tess’s best friend, the quigutl Pathka, has been acting very strangely since Anathuthia’s death. Can Tess help find and protect the serpent before a separate, dragon-led team of explorers can find and kill it? Will finding the serpent somehow help Pathka? When she discovers that her long lost Will is alive and on the very same ship, Tess is soon neck-deep in personal and political turmoil. This follow up is filled with action, adventure and emotional reckoning. 

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Spotlight on Pride!

Though COVID cases are declining in most of the country, many communities have again chosen to forego in-person Pride events this year. But even if can’t wave a flag and take to the streets, you can still celebrate all the LGBTQ+ representation in new and forthcoming YA titles. Here’s a veritable parade of books to ensure your collection gives voice to love in all its forms!

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No Way, They Were Gay? by Lee Wind
This collection combines primary sources and historical analysis to provide an in-depth look at prominent figures and their identities. Part of Queer History Project, No Way, They Were Gay? is out now from Zest Books, an imprint of Lerner.

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Out! How to Be Your Authentic Self by Miles McKenna
An Amazing Audiobooks nominee, this memoir / survival guide from YouTuber Miles McKenna is a generous and open-hearted handbook for kids everywhere. Full of resources and support, this book (out now from Amulet, an imprint of Abrams) is a must-have for LGBTQ+ teens and their allies.

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Loveless by Alice Oseman
From the creator of the beloved graphic novel series Heartstopper comes this novel about Georgia who starts to understand herself as asexual/aromantic once she gets to college. An excellent reminder of one of the least understood aspects of the LGBTQ+ community, Alice Oseman’s latest will be an important addition to your collection for older teens. It will publish in November from Scholastic.

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Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles
This sophomore offering from rising star Jay Coles is also coming this fall from Scholastic. It introduces Gio, a queer Black kid navigating the complications of the sudden return of his birth mom after 8 years of absence as well as the ordinary but never easy reality of figuring out who you are and how you love.

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Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
In this novel, Bangladeshi and Irish writer Jaigirdar introduces Hani who tries to come out to her friends as bisexual . . . but they doubt her because she’s only dated boys before. Under pressure to prove it, she lies and says she’s dating Ishu, the only other Bengali kid in their year. Released in May from Page Street, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating tackles toxic friendships, racism, and relationships.

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The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag
For fans of the graphic novel, Molly Knox Ostertag’s latest was released at the beginning of the month and is already being lauded as a beautiful and emotional story. After being saved from drowning by Keltie, Morgan faces her unexpected and growing feelings for the girl from the sea. She and Keltie begin a summer romance, but Morgan feels she must keep it a secret. Teens will identify with Morgan’s uncertainty in this lovely coming of age story.

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The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer
Fans of science fiction will rejoice at Eliot Schrefer’s latest (released June 1 from Katherine Tegan Books) featuring two boys who find themselves alone, together on a space ship. Sworn enemies, they realize they must work together to survive and accomplish their mission. Their trust quickly turns to something more as this mystery plus love story unfolds.

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Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
Julie Murphy’s back, this time bringing us Waylon Russell Brewer who can’t wait to escape his small town in West Texas. Waylon is white and fat and openly gay, and after his audition tape for a TV drag show gets circulated at school, he ends up running for prom queen. If you loved Murphy’s Dumplin’, you’ll find the same humor and charm here along with another healthy does of disruption to stereotypical beauty standards. Available now from Balzer + Bray.

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Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
Is this a new trope: Fake lovers to real ones? Sugiura has brought us a fun summer romance that starts as a plan to invoke jealousy. Nozomi thinks Willow is perfect, even though she knows Willow’s not over her ex. Seizing the opportunity to be close to her, Nozomi agrees to pose as Willow’s new girlfriend and hopes to see fake love turn into true love. Released in early June, this one is sure to be a delightful summer read.

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All Kinds of Other by James Sie
Jules and Jack are both new sophomores in their Los Angeles high school. Both have come from painful freshman years at their old schools, and both are looking to make a new start. When they meet, their commonalities turn to sparks, and they have to face hard decisions about who they want to be and who they want to be with.

The 2021 Hub Challenge Has Arrived!

Here it is: The Hub Reading Challenge for 2021!

This year, we encourage readers to get involved at whatever level they prefer. You can aim for traditional BINGO with five in a row, or you can take on one of the bigger goals! From reading with a tissue box to laughing out loud, this year’s challenge covers a lot of ground, and it gives you the chance to read along with our Selected Lists team members. As you read new YA this year, we hope you are discovering titles that would make a great fit on the Amazing Audiobooks, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Great Graphic Novels, or Quick Picks nomination lists. When you do, we want to hear about it, so grab the field nomination form (available at the bottom of each week’s posts) and make a suggestion! When you do, you’ll be sharing the love AND earning a spot on this year’s BINGO board!

Most of the spots are self-explanatory, but we’ll make sure to highlight a few each time we check in, and if you have questions, there’s a spot for those in the sign-up form.

Click the download button below to get a PDF of the bingo board. Our first check-in will be next month, so get started!

Black History – Black Futures

As we continue in our celebration of Black History Month, we equally celebrate the voices creating rich and brilliant Black Futures. Like this short film from The Movement for Black Lives, countless YA authors are sending visions of a future world into the present and into the hearts of young adult readers everywhere. Here are a few recent or forthcoming examples:

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

This title, selected for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten, draws upon West African folklore and Western fairy tales to create an immersive and complex world that is sure to engage and delight.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Described as perfect for fans of the Dora Milaje from Black Panther, this newly-released high fantasy is poised to join a powerful cohort of strong female characters.

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Celebrating Black Voices

Though we champion Black voices all year long, February is Black History Month, and YALSA member Annierra Matthews has pulled together a list to commemorate and elevate this celebration. Annierra is a Research Services Library at Mercer University in Douglasville, Georgia, and has a passion for YA!

Black History Month (BHM) is quite prominent in most Black households across the United States. Founded in 1924 by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of Black leaders, musicians, writers, athletes, etc., are celebrated throughout February. For teens searching for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are plenty of options: viewing online exhibitions and archives, binging documentaries and films, streaming special programs and recitals, and even supporting black-owned businesses.

For those who prefer to cuddle up with a book, here’s a list of compelling fiction written by Black authors and featuring Black characters. 

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Malik must save his sister from a sinister spirit, and in order to do so, he must kill Crown Princess Karina. Karina, on the other hand, must offer a king’s heart to revive her mother. When Malik and Karina face-off in the Solstasia competition, they contend with falling in love and completing their goal.  

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Dispatches from the End of the World: Survival Stories

Though it might be a bit unsettling, there are undoubtedly teens who see all the hurt and disruption in the world today and turn to dystopian futures or post-apocalyptic tales as the remedy. With those readers in mind, here is a list of titles that dive into the dark realities of an uncertain future.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher

Cover of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher

This 2020 Alex Award winner holds more than a few surprises, and it is a great title to suggest to the reader who has already worked through the more common dystopian titles. Griz is a finely-drawn and fully-complex character who teens will connect with, and the hunt for loyal dog Jess will keep them turning pages until the unexpected and remarkable ending.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

This book. It haunts me. Set in the early 2020s, but written in the early 1990s, it is a prescient and terrifying look at the kind of chaos and social disorder that could descend upon us. Climate change has led to massive water outages, and safety is dependent upon avoiding the mobs bent upon destruction. 15-year-old Lauren is wise beyond her years, but she is an ideal guide through this world and into a possible future.

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Books to Ease the Winter Blues

Depending on what part of the world you inhabit, the beginning of February might find you suffering from the winter blahs. Some call it the Jan-Febs; others are just so tired of the slush and the cold and the wind (and the pandemic!) that traps them indoors; still others battle the very real SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Even those libraries blessed with year-round good weather have patrons that could use a moment of joy, so let this be our subtle suggestion for the creation of a happiness corner — maybe install a light therapy fixture, add some bubbles or balloons, maybe even rent a puppy? And, of course, books that are guaranteed to bring a smile and remind that stressed-out teen of the kid they still are. From comics to picture books, these titles will be sure to bring a smile.

Maybe your teens are already familiar with Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet series? If not, remedy that error forthwith!! These alien creatures do their best to describe their interactions with the new and fascinating things of Earth, and they never fail to bring a laugh. Or 100.

Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle
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Teens Needed for Virtual Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session

YALSA is recruiting teens to participate in its Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) Teen Feedback Session. This session is scheduled to take place virtually via Zoom on Saturday, January 9th from 2-3:30pm CT. During the session, teens will be asked to give constructive feedback to the BFYA committee members on the titles that have been nominated for the 2021 BFYA list. The list of books can be found here. The session will be recorded but will not be made public. It will also only be sent to BFYA Committee members.

YALSA takes input from youth very seriously, and in order to get a wide representation, there are two ways to participate.  First, we are seeking up to 50 teens to participate virtually. Participating teens are asked to read as many of the BYFA titles as possible, but all titles do not need to be read by each teen. Secondly, librarians may gather feedback from their teens to share on behalf of their teens during the session. Both teens and librarians interested in participating in the feedback session should apply by January 5

YALSA Goals for Youth Participation:

  1. To organize and implement youth participation to support division goals,
  2. To collect a wide range of ideas from as diverse a young adult population as possible,
  3. To incorporate youth participation into programs and services in order to provide a richer experience for YALSA members,
  4. To create valuable experiences for the participating young adults in which they can gain knowledge and/or skills useful in future endeavors.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 9 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

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The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson; Narrated by  Fajer Al-Kaisi, Feodor Chin, Gisela Chípe, Michael Crouch, Janina Edwards, James Fouhey, Renata Friedman, Catherine Ho, Nicole Lewis, Omar Leyva, Guy Lockard, Jesus E. Martinez, and Lisa Renee Pitts
Listening Library
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
ISBN: 978-0593121610

Through poetry, essays, lists, and letters, The Talk  gives 17 different conversations that delve into race, racism, identity, and self-esteem. Coming from a variety of experiences, which are often intergenerational and intersectional, this is a conversation starter for dissecting structural racism, moves to be more antiracist, and ways to be more inclusive with a focus on being affirming to listeners. 

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