Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Button Pusher by Tyler Page

Button Pusher by Tyler Page
Publisher: First Second
Imprint: Roaring Brook Press
Release date: 2022
ISBN: 9781250758330

This is Tyler’s graphic memoir detailing his childhood experiences with ADHD. He discusses situations where he was often told to sit down, return to his seat and pay attention, as well as the isolation he felt as a result of his socially awkward impulsiveness.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Penguin Teen
Publication Date: September 21, 2022
ISBN: 9780735269934

Loosely based on the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female Chinese emperor, Iron Widow follows 18-year-old Zetian as she infiltrates the military to avenge her sister’s murder and then dismantle the patriarchal system that made the murder possible.

In Huaxia, a futuristic Chinese-inspired world, humans battle the alien Hundun in an endless war. To hold their own against the insectile Hundun, soldiers pilot giant mecha Chrysalises that take the shape of mythical animals and use qi as fuel, needing both the male yang and female yin energy. While male pilots are celebrated as idols, their female partners are subservient concubine-pilots, and usually die during battle.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Practice Girl by Estelle Laure

Practice Girl
by Estelle Laure
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Viking
Release date: 2022-05-01
ISBN: 9780593350911

Wrestling manager, Jo, is devastated to discover that the boys on the wrestling team consider her a “practice girl”–good enough to build their sexual prowess, but not the girl they want for a relationship. Gutted to discover this, she finds herself confronting the state of all of her relationships.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Penguin Random House
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
ISBN: 9781984836038

17-year-old Cristian’s family, like everyone else’s in 1989 Romania, is suffering under the yoke of Ceaușescu’s totalitarian regime. Food is scarce, listening devices and spies are ubiquitous, and dissent is quickly stamped out under the threat of imprisonment. When Cristian is picked up by the secret police, the Securitate, he is blackmailed into informing on the son of an American diplomat in order to help save his ill grandfather. Dismayed at being forced to betray a friend, Cristian turns to recording his dangerous thoughts into a hidden notebook.

This fast-paced work of historical fiction focuses on an era many readers may not be aware of. Fans of dystopian fiction as well as historical fiction will be aghast at the level of oppression and manipulation Romanian citizens endured for decades under the rule of strongman dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. Extensive supplemental materials, including photos, an author’s note, and recommendations for further research, help drive home the realities of life under Ceaușescu as well as the bloody revolution that ended his reign in 1989.

Fans of Ruta Sepetys’s other works of historical fiction will not be disappointed. For readers interested in learning more about what life was like in former Communist countries, Walls by L.M. Elliott or House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker would be strong choices.

-Courtney Waters

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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Borders by Thomas King and Natasha Donovan

Borders by Thomas King and Natasha Donovan
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
ISBN-13: 9781443460675

Six years after his older sister left the reserve to make a new life in Salt Lake City, a boy and his mom pack their car to drive south across the border to visit her. When his mom declares that they are not American or Canadian, but Blackfoot, they are denied entry and turn back toward home, only to face the same problem at the Canadian border. The two are then trapped in physical and legal limbo between Sweetgrass, Montana and Coutts, Alberta with dwindling food and supplies.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
Narrated by: Frankie Corzo
Imprint/Publisher: Recorded Books Inc.
Release date: October 12, 2021
ISBN: 9781705044308

Petra Peña wants to be a storyteller like her Abuelita, but first, Petra must get to her new home. Petra and her family are lucky enough to be part of a group chosen to settle on a new planet and carry on the human race. All is planned for safe arrival, except things don’t go as planned. When Petra wakes up, she realizes she is the only one who has any memories of life on Earth. Everyone else has had all their memories erased. Can Petra’s stories save the future?

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Daughter
by Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group
Imprint: Wednesday Books
Release date: March 8, 2022
ISBN: 9781250817440

Scarlet has no idea why her professional single mother is so strict and paranoid. Nothing ever happens in their small town. All that changes with the arrival of an odd SUV that seems to be following and watching her. Her life is irrevocably changed when she discovers she is Baby Brittany–daughter of the infamous serial killer, Jeff Lake–and he is willing to reveal where the undiscovered bodies are hidden, but only to her.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
ISBN: 9781250780867

In this retelling of a classic Korean folktale, sixteen-year-old Mina sacrifices herself to the Spirit Realm to save her brother’s beloved from the same fate. Mina then begins her quest to wake the Sea God to end the sacrifices of young women and stop the storms that are destroying her homeland. She meets many demons, gods, and spirits, both friend and foe, along the way.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Mao, vol. 1 by Rumiko Takahashi

Mao, Vol. 1 by Rumiko Takahashi
VIZ Media LLC
Publication Date: September 14, 2021
ISBN: 9781974720521

Nanoka Kiba is your average teenager except for a mysterious fatal car accident she had as a child. Curious and drawn to an abandoned shopping center, Nanoka finds herself spirited to the Taisho era, where she happens to be saved by a mysterious boy named Mao. When Nanoka returns to her time, she learns that she is not as normal as she first thought. Full of questions, Nanoka returns back to the Taisho era looking for answers but finds herself pulled into Mao’s mystical investigations. They realize they might share a supernatural connection as they look into these paranormal occurrences.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2023) Featured Review of Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds
Narrated By: Jason Reynolds, Nile Bullock, Tatum Marylin Hall, JaQwan J. Kelly, DePre Owens
Imprint/Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audiobooks
Publication Date: January 11, 2022
ISBN: 9781797137544

In ten-sentences, Jason Reynolds explores the impact of racism, police brutality, and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as experienced by a Black family. Reynolds poetically expresses the fear and pain of the year 2020 while highlighting the importance of human connection.

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