Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

After the mysterious death of her parents, Inez Olivera sets out from her home in Argentina to visit the place they lived and lost their lives, Egypt. There she meets her new guardian and his handsome assistant who try to send her back home to Buenos Aires. Instead, she sneaks onto a ship headed to the archaeological site where her parents were last seen in the hopes that she might uncover the truth behind their disappearance. Along the way the magic she is using to guide her search ends up leading her to uncover more than just the truth about her parents’ death.

What the River Knows is a historical fantasy set in Egypt in the 1880s. It is full of adventure, mystery, magic, and intrigue. The immersive setting, engaging plot, and strong characters come together to create a world that will draw readers in and keep them engaged with twists and turns. The narration of Hamad and Osorio does an excellent job expressing the emotions and tension of the characters and situations in the book. The narrators have a strong grasp of proper pronunciation of words in multiple languages in the book.The use of music and multiple narrators was also a nice addition to the overall production.

Readers who enjoyed Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross or books by Chloe Gong or R.F. Kuang would enjoy this story. It would also be a perfect read for fans of The Mummy. Additionally, readers who enjoy mythology based stories like the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan would find elements of this book appealing.

-Haley Shaw

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 27, 2024
Release Date: September 26, 2023
Release Date: November 7, 2023

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 (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: The Space Between Here and Now by Sarah Suk

  • The Space Between Here & Now
  • by Sarah Suk
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release date: October 31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780063255135

Korean-Canadian teen Aimee has been diagnosed with Sensory Time Warp Syndrome, a condition that teleports her into her own memories when she encounters specific smells. Although her single dad insists she’ll eventually grow out of her STWS, she no longer feels in control, disappearing more frequently and for longer stretches of time. When one of her memories suggests there might be more to her mother’s disappearance than she first realized, Aimee travels to Korea to search for the truth before she loses her grip on the present completely.

The Space Between Here & Now uses magical realism to explore mental health, chronic illness, and the intergenerational trauma that comes with being the child of immigrants. The rich, sensory descriptions turn Aimee’s internal mental health journey into a landscape we can navigate with her. Her thoughtful narration will prompt readers to reflect on the ways we talk about disability and their relationships to their own pasts.

Aimee’s struggles will be relatable to teens with a variety of invisible disabilities. This story is a great follow-up to titles like The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan and Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi.

– Yona Yurwit

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.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA25TeenFB

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid by Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert

  • Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid
  • by Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert
  • First Second
  • Publication Date: 2/13/2024
  • ISBN-13: 9781250193513

Molly Bauer is thrilled to be starting freshman year at PICA, the (expensive) art school that dominates her hometown of Peachtree, Georgia. But when she shows up for the first day of orientation, she finds her full-ride scholarship has vanished due to a bureaucratic mix-up. Desperate to fix the issue without letting her moms find out, Molly stumbles upon the perfect solution – a little-known athletic scholarship that will pay for a full year of tuition. The only requirement? She’ll need to assemble a rag-tag group of softball players and win a single game. 

Bunt! is a charming and laugh-out-loud funny mix of sports and romance, as well as an acknowledgement of the complexities of navigating scholarships, student debt, and institutions of higher education. Mad Rupert’s art style is bold and vibrantly colorful, contributing to the fun and fast-paced energy of the story. Characters display a wide range of skin tones and body types, and multiple queer identities are represented. 

Fans of Ngozi Ukazu’s previous series Check, Please! will be sure to enjoy the similar mix of energetic humor, college sports, and queer romance. Readers looking for more of the quirky group dynamics and unlikely-sports-team-made-up-of-art-kids antics of The Avant Guards will find much to enjoy in Bunt!. Bunt! will also appeal to watchers of the TV series A League of Their Own who enjoy sapphic romance and queer characters and are willing to make the jump from baseball to softball. 

-–Meg Bowie

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: Till Human Voices Wake Us by Rebecca Roque

  • Till Human Voices Wake Us
  • by Rebecca Roque
  • Narrated by Imani Jade Powers
  • Imprint / Blackstone Publishing
  • Publication Date: February 27, 2024
  • ISBN: 9798212338356

Seventeen-year-old Cia does not wish to dwell on her fiery and mysterious past. That is until her best friend is found dead in the Quarry. Everyone believes her death was a suicide. Cia, though, believes differently. Especially, after she digs deeper into her town’s secrets, some of which involve her own family. 

Till Human Voices Wake Us takes the reader on a roller coaster of compelling and dark twists and turns. It is a young adult mystery/thriller that incorporates a lot of topics almost at once. Some of the topics featured in this novel include teen pregnancy, drug abuse,  secret societies, corruption, and LGBTQ characters and relationships. Yet, the author, Rebecca Roque, still somehow manages to keep it all from being overly complicated. 

The narrator did a fantastic job with narrating this story. She brought the characters to life, complete with accents, expression, diction, tone, and suspense. The reading and inclusion of Spanish, when spoken, sounded fluid and natural to the ear. All these aspects just add that extra layer to the overall performance.

Readers will find similar themes, pace, and of Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious, and Barry Lgya’s Time Will Tell will definitely love this story. They will find many of the same suspenseful elements as suspenseful tone, edgy betrayals, and young adult sleuths digging deeper and deeper into those specific societies’ and even family secrets. 

 -L.B. Ferguson

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: Oct. 31, 2023
Release Date: September 5, 2023
Release Date: February 20, 2024

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 (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Rez Ball by Byron Graves

  • Rez Ball
  • by Byron Graves
  • Publisher: Heartdrum
  • Release date: September 12, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780063160378

Tre Brun’s dream is to make it to the NBA, and the first step on that path is making varsity at Red Lake Reservation High School. Tre is ready to prove himself as a great player, but it’s hard to stand on his own when everyone just compares him to his older brother Jaxon who died in a car accident. When Jaxon played, Red Lake nearly made it to state, and Tre is determined to see them make it all the way this time.

This is a fast-paced coming of age novel that balances the grieving process with lighthearted comic book references and great friendships. While the focus of the book is basketball, the author does an excellent job of weaving in the importance of Indigenous identity and the racism Tre and his friends face outside the reservation. 

This is a great book for teens who love sports and features engaging, tense scenes of game play. It’s also a good choice for teens looking for indigenous representation. Rez Ball is a great pick for teens who resonated with the handling of grief and trauma in Saints of the Household by Ari Tison, and for teens who can’t get enough of basketball-focused reads like Here to Stay by Sara Farizan.

-Kameron Morton

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.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA25TeenFB

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, vol. 1 by Umi (REDICE STUDIO), singNsong, and Sleepy-C

  • Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, vol. 1
  • by Umi (REDICE STUDIO), singNsong, and Sleepy-C
  • Ize Press
  • Publication Date: December 12, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9798400901065

Dokja Kim could be anyone. The 28-year-old, single office worker spends his days in monotony and relishes his evening commute home when he reads the latest chapter of his favorite web novel, “Three Ways to Survive the Apocalypse.” He’s the only person still reading it after ten years and over 3,000 chapters, and today is the day the final chapter will be published. But instead of a final chapter, Dokja finds himself living the start of the web novel in real life as a goblin-like creature appears, announces The Main Scenario is starting, and proclaims the people now trapped in the train car will only survive if they kill a living creature. As fiction becomes a nightmare, Dokja must step up and do the best he can because he knows the main protagonist is coming: Yoo Joonghyuk, the Regressor, a man who has lived The Main Scenario over and over again.

Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, or ORV, had 360 million global views as of May 2021, with readership almost equally split between male and female. The art and narration flow seamlessly together, and while there are violent scenes, they’re not gratuitous and fit the story framework. ORV stands out among the apocalyptic fantasy manhwa and manga for this reason. Readers who enjoy ORV may also enjoy Solo Leveling (manhwa/anime) by Dubu (REDICE STUDIO) and Chugong, for the similar settings and leveling up story lines; A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special (manhwa/anime) by Usonan and Wookjakga, since the main characters both know the future and seek to change it.

-Melanie C. Duncan

Great Graphic Novels #GGN2025 Quarterly Round-Up: Spring

Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the officially nominated titles to date. These titles have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple team members, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, each team will choose the final list of nominations and determine the Selected List’s Top Ten from these titles. For brevity, we have not included official nominations of subsequent volumes in ongoing series in this round-up, only first volumes and standalone titles.

–Meg Bowie, GGN Coordinator

  • Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid
  • By Ngozi Ukazu
  • Art by Mad Rupert
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 279p.
  • Publisher: First Second, paper, $17.99 (9781250193513)
  • Reading Lelve: Gr. 9-12
  • 741.5973.

When college freshman Molly Bauer’s full-ride scholarship to art school falls through, her only option is to assemble a ragtag group of reluctant softball players in pursuit of an athletic scholarship.

  • Call Me Iggy
  • By Jorge Augusto Aguirre
  • Art by Rafael Rosado
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 245p.
  • Publisher: First Second, paper, $18.99 (9781250204134).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12.
  • 741.5973.

Ignacio (aka “Iggy”), a second generation Columbian American, starts high school and is visited by his dead grandfather.

  • Cooking with Monsters: The Beginner’s Guide to Culinary Combat
  • By Jordan Alsaqa
  • Art by Vivian Truong
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 256p
  • Publishers: IDW Publishing, paper, $16.99 (9781684059836)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • 741.5973

To become a warrior chef, Hana must face furious monsters, navigate awkward friendships, and learn to make the perfect meal.

  • Freshman Year
  • By Sarah Mai. Art by the author
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 273p.
  • Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books, paper, $17.99 (9780316401173)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
  • 741.5973

This book chronicles one girl’s freshman year in college, from making new friends and exploring one’s identity to staying up all night cramming for finals.

  • Gachiakuta, vol. 1.
  • By Kei Urana. Art by the author
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 188p.
  • Publisher: Kodansha Comics, paper, $12.99 (9798888770207)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
  • 741.5952.

Framed for murder and exiled into the pit, Rudo will learn that there is more than garbage beyond the Sphere.

Chelsea’s newfound high school popularity is threatened when she’s forced to work at her dad’s paranormal removal company; but soon she discovers a mystery she can’t help but try to solve.

  • Gokurakugai, vol. 1
  • By Yuto Sano. Art by the author
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 184p
  • Publisher: VIZ Media, paper, $11.99 (9781974743568)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
  • 741.5952

The Gokurakugai Troubleshooter Agency hunts down supernatural monsters terrorizing their neighborhood.

  • Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy
  • By Faith Erin Hicks
  • Art by the author
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 286p.
  • Publisher: First Second, paper, $17.99 (9781250838728)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12.
  • 741.5971

When hockey player Alix realizes she needs help keeping her cool, she asks her classmate Ezra to become her mentor – and ends up falling for him.

  • How to Love: A Guide to Feelings & Relationships for Everyone
  • By Alex Norris. Art by the author.
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 220p.
  • Publisher: Walker Books US, hardcover, $17.99 (9781536217889)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
  • 306.7083

Author and illustrator Alex Norris answers common questions about love, relationships, and feelings of all sorts.

  • Huda F Cares?
  • By Huda Fahmy. Art by the author.
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 194p.
  • Publisher: Dial Press, paper, $16.99 (9780593532805)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • 741.5973

On a family vacation to Disney World, Huda navigates her identity as a Muslim American as well as her relationship with her sisters

  • In Utero
  • By Chris Gooch. Art by the author
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 248p.
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions, paper, $24.99 (9781603095341)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12.
  • 741.5994

Twelve-year-old Hailey discovers both friendship and subterranean horrors when she attends summer day camp in an abandoned mall.

  • Ink Girls
  • By Marieke Nijkamp. Art by Sylvia Bi.
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 288p.
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books, paper, $15.99 (9780063027107).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 3-7
  • 741.5973

Eleven-year-old disabled printer’s apprentice Cinzia attempts to liberate her mentor and hold the government accountable to the people it represents.

  • Just Another Story: A Graphic Migration Account.
  • By Ernesto Saade. Art by the author.
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 216p.
  • Publisher: Graphic Universe, paper, $17.99 (9798765623367).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12.
  • 305.9.

A retelling of a story about a mother and son (Carlos and Elena) who leave El Salvador to come to the United States.

  • Lunar New Year Love Story.
  • By Gene Luen Yang. Art by LeUyen Pham.
  • Release: 2024.
  • Length: 352p.
  • Publisher: First Second, paper, $17.99 (9781250908261).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12.
  • 741.5973.

Valentina grew up loving Valentine’s Day… until she learned that her family is cursed in love. After meeting Lion Dancer Les, can she break the curse?

  • Mall Goth
  • By Kate Leth. Art by the author
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 244p.
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, paper, $14.99 (9781534476943).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12.
  • 741.5973

Liv must deal with confusing friendships, inappropriate attention from a teacher, and a job at the mall as she starts over in a new school as a bisexual goth girl.

  • Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, vol. 1.
  • By Umi (REDICE STUDIO) and singNsong. Art by Sleepy-C
  • Release: 2023
  • Length: 237p.
  • Publisher: Ize Press, paper, $20.00 (9798400901065)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • 741.5951

Dojka Kim, the lone devoted reader of an obscure web novel, is forced into unexpected action when the world of the story becomes real.

  • Run and Hide: How Jewish Youth Escaped the Holocaust
  • By Don Brown. Art by the author.
  • Release: 2023.
  • Length: 190p.
  • Publisher: Clarion Books, hardcover, $22.99 (9780358538165)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • 940.5318

Brown tells the stories of how some children escaped the Holocaust through the heroic efforts of strangers and friends, as well as their own courage and quick thinking.

  • Super Boba Cafe.
  • By Nidhi Chanani. Art by the author.
  • Release: 2023.
  • Length: 215p.
  • Publisher: Amulet Books, paper, $16.99 (9781419759574).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 3-7
  • 741.5973

Aria’s summer in San Francisco with her grandmother, Jing Li, is full of boba, delicious food – and mystery.

  • The Fox Maidens
  • By Robin Ha. Art by the author
  • Release: 2024
  • Length: 308p.
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray, paper, $18.99 (9780062685124).
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • 741.5973

As Kai fights for her dream of becoming a warrior like her father, she realizes a secret about her past that will change her destiny forever.

  • Wildfire
  • By Breena Bard. Art by the author
  • Release: 2023
  • Reading Length: 271p.
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, paper, $12.99 (9780316277655)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 3-7
  • 741.5973

After losing her home to a wildfire, Julianna and her family relocate to Portland; but Carson, the boy Julianna suspects was involved in starting the wildfire, shows up at her new school.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: The Fox Maiden by Robin Ha

  • The Fox Maidens
  • by Robin Ha
  • Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
  • Publication Date: February 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13: 9780062685124

All Kai Song wants to be is a warrior like her father, who happens to be commander of the Royal Legion. While her father does train her in martial arts, the rest of her community isn’t ready for a woman to be a warrior; not to mention, they believe that she is the granddaughter of Gumiho, the nine-tailed fox demon. On the day Kai starts her first period, she starts experiencing strange changes and finally learns about her mother’s past. At the same time, the family is targeted by assassins. Kai must maneuver all of this and learn to fight her own destiny to become who she wants to be.

The Fox Maidens takes a traditional Korean legend and turns it into a queer retelling featuring a strong female lead. Explanations before the story that describe the origins of the myth aid in world-building. The bold illustrations and vibrant colors draw you into the story so that you can almost feel the characters moving around you. Ha keeps you engaged throughout this fast-paced story that has both action and romance.

Readers who enjoyed the courageous lead in Squire by Nadia Shammas and Jen Wang’s romance in The Princess and the Dressmaker would enjoy this read. Anyone that has delved into the world of fantasy Korean Dramas similar to A Korean Odyssey or Guardian: The Great and Lonely God would also find this read very entertaining.

—Jessica Duong

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: October 10, 2023
Release Date: September 26, 2023

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 (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Sky’s End by Marc J. Gregson

  • Sky’s End
  • by Marc J. Gregson
  • Publisher: Peachtree Teen
  • Release date: January 2, 2024
  • ISBN: 9781682635766

Conrad’s family once ruled their floating island, before his uncle murdered his father. Now destitute and eager to reunite with his sister who is a ward of their uncle, he trains to be a hunter. The deadliest of the Trades, hunters defend the islands from gargantuans. Conrad and his fellow trainees must compete in the gauntlet, a competition to see who can kill the most gargantuans. It is a battle filled with treachery, mutiny, and hidden alliances.

Conrad’s ragtag crew is fun to cheer for both in the gauntlet and their character growth. The battles come quickly with plenty of action for fans of adventure stories. The political upheaval provides a growing sense of unease while the game continues to unfold. 

The breakneck speed of this book will appeal to teens who like science fiction with a lot of action and little downtime. Fans of political drama will find plenty in Sky’s End. Similar titles are Sevenfold Hunters by Rose Egal and Skyward by Brandon Sanderson.

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

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.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA25TeenFB

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham

  • Lunar New Year Love Story
  • by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham
  • First Second 
  • Publication Date: January 9, 2024
  • ISBN-13: 9781626728103

Valentina Trần has always loved Valentine’s Day, making homemade valentines for all of her friends and classmates. But when she moves to high school, her romantic view of true love is shattered when her grandmother tells her the family is cursed in love, and that Val’s own mother is not dead, as she has always believed, but in fact abandoned her family when Val was a baby. But Val isn’t quite ready to give up on true love. Hoping to avoid her family’s curse, Val makes a deal with St. Valentine—if she can’t find true love in the next year, she’ll turn her heart over to him. 

Yang pushes the rom-com trope of true love as he explores love in a variety of relationships, from friends to family. He even develops the love of one’s culture through characters that come from a diverse mix of Asian backgrounds, each bringing a unique, rich heritage to the shared celebration of the Lunar New Year. Pham supports this with expressive illustrations that show a wide range of emotions. Mostly monochromatic panels with pops of color are full of details, and highlight the drama and humor of the story.

Fans of Yang’s previous works will not be disappointed in this latest offering. Readers who enjoy sweet romantic comedies with a touch of angst, like Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy or Super Fake Love Song will find plenty to adore in this charming romance. Those who appreciate a good love triangle will enjoy Val’s struggle to choose between two lion dancers. Recommend this to fans of lighthearted comics with colorful, expressive illustrations like Pumpkinheads or Crumbs.

-Heather Christensen

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 13, 2024
Release Date: October 3, 2023

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.