Selected Lists Transition Update

We are working hard to continue to make the transition of YALSA’s selected lists to the Hub a smooth one. You can read more about the status of that transition in this post from 17-18 YALSA president Sandra Hughes-Hassell on the YALSAblog.

I wanted to give an update on things from the Hub side. You have hopefully noticed quite a few posts in recent weeks with 2018 Amazing Audiobooks and Quick Picks nominees. We’ve been working hard to get through a backlog of posts on these nominees. Both of those blogger teams and their coordinators, Ariel Cummins for #AA2018 and Dana Hutchins for #QP2018, have done amazing work in helping us get these nominees out quicker so librarians can learn about and purchase these titles throughout the year, which was one of the goals of transitioning selected lists to the Hub. Continue reading Selected Lists Transition Update

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 8

This edition of Amazing Audiobooks nominees features two funny stories!

Kill All Happies by Rachel Cohn, narrated by Lauren Ezzo
Audio Published by Dreamscape Media, LLC
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
ISBN: 9781520072210

Kill All Happies is Cohn’s newest solo title. Cohn is well-known for her collaborative titles with YA author David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, the Twelves Days of Dash and Lily and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. In Kill All Happies, Victoria “Vic” Navarro or “General Navarro,” as she is called by peers, is determined to give the seniors of Rancho Soldado one last party they won’t forget. Like most of the townspeople of Rancho Soldado, Vic is devastated that the local restaurant Happies has closed and is being sold to developers. Vic gets permission to host the party in the Happies restaurant, with the understanding that the party will in no way overflow into the abandoned Happies theme park behind the restaurant, and that Annette Thrope, a.k.a. “Miss Ann Thrope,” Vic’s arch-nemesis, teacher, and real estate agent for the Happies property, will not find out. Vic is assisted in this endeavor by her two best friends, Genesis “Fletch” Fletcher and Mercedes “Slick” Zavala-Kim.  But Vic also has another goal for the evening, to hook up with her number one crush, Slick’s older brother Jake. At first, the party seems to be going on without a hitch, but soon Happies from all over arrive to celebrate the “last night at Happies.” The night begins to veer off course and Vic has to decide to try and fix the problems the party is causing or give up and join in the fun. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 8

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 7

This round of Amazing Audiobooks nominees are great stories told in unusual formats.

Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, narrated by Kwame Alexander and Randy Preston (original music)
Audio Published by Zondervan
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
ISBN: 9780310761891

Solo tells the story of seventeen year old Blade Morrison. Blade, like his father, is a talented musician; but unlike his father, he’s steadier, sober and less haunted by his mother’s death. Blade has a comfortable yet difficult life. His dad is wealthy, so he never needs to worry about money or how to pay for his future. He has a girlfriend, Chapel, with whom he plans to attend college. Yet Blade is constantly in the public eye, because his father is not only famous, but infamous for the stunts he pulls when he’s under the influence.  Blade, who is more self-possessed that most teenage kids with famous substance abusing fathers and self-involved sisters, is learning truths about himself that are throwing his world into a tailspin. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 7

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 6

Today’s Amazing Audiobooks nominees feature charming and engaging coming of age narratives.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, narrated by Robbie Daymond
Audio published by Clarion Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
ISBN: 978-0544586505

Sal is beginning his senior year of high school. He feels he’s always lived a slow, predictable life with his adoptive gay dad, his dad’s family, and his best friend, Sam. The beginning of this school year, however, brings an identity crisis the likes of which Sal has never experienced. His emotions feel out of control, his family life is rapidly changing, and he’s spiraling. His grandmother, the only woman who’s played the motherly role in his life, is dying while his friend Fito’s mother is at risk of murdering Fito because of the drugs that she’s using. The only outlet for all of this stress that satisfies Sal is physical violence, and this makes him afraid of himself.

Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 6

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 5

This installment of Amazing Audiobook nominees feature stories of real life and the “not so afterlife” and are perfect for fans of hard-hitting realistic YA fiction, and more humorous stories.

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin
Audio published by: Harper Audio
Publication date: 2/28/17
ISBN: 9780062677082

The Hate U Give, titled after a Tupac Shakur song, reaches deep into an ongoing issue in American culture today; that of police violence against the African American community. Starr Carter is torn between two worlds. In one world, she’s the token black girl, smoothing out her personality and demeanor to fit in with the other students at her suburban prep school. In her other world, Starr faces a glaring reality that only comes from living in a drug- and gang-ridden community. But even with its problems, Garden Heights looks after itself, neighbors helping each other; and Starr’s father’s store provides a staple business in the community. One evening Kenya (Starr’s half-brother’s sister), convinces Starr to join her at a local party. During the party, Starr reunites with an old childhood friend, Khalil. Seeing Khalil brings forward some of the reasons the two grew apart; Starr’s attending a prep school in a different town and the death of their childhood friend, who was killed in a drive by shooting while swimming at the public pool. After witnessing the death of their friend, Starr has never been quite the same. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 5

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 4

This round of Amazing Audiobooks nominees feature historical fiction and true tales of teens making history.

The Pearl Thief

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein, narrated by Maggie Service
Audio published by Brilliance Audiobook
Publication Date: 7/15/17

ISBN: 978-1484717165

Elizabeth Wein’s latest novel is another humdinger of a historical yarn. This little ditty is just drenched in dulcet dialogue and populated by an irresistible array of memorable characters. Featuring a feisty and charmingly spunky female protagonist with a certain derring-do that takes her to the heart of an engrossing murder mystery. Teenage Julie Beaufort-Stuart returns to her ancestral Scottish home for the summer and is quickly steeped in a conundrum involving pilfered pearls, country travelers, and one boggy corpse.

The Pearl Thief is a well-crafted coming-of-age tale that rings authentic and well-researched. It should appeal to young audiences for its vim, variety of characters, and velocity of narrative. It’s equal parts Harriet the Spy, Sherlock Holmes, and Scooby-Doo. Julie carries the plot effortlessly with her verve and sense of adventure but the accompanying characters also bring much to the story. Julie befriends two traveler siblings and together they tackle the case of the missing heirloom pearls that resulted in a dead body on the family estate. It’s very almost nearly a Nancy Drew Mystery Story. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 4

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks, Volume 3

The latest round of Amazing Audiobooks nominees feature fantastic characters and a dash of magical realism!

A Million JunesA Million Junes by Emily Henry, narrated by Julia Whelan
Audio published by: Listening Library
Publication date: May 16, 2017
ISBN: 9781524756123

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell comes from a long line of Jacks. As a child, her father raised her on the tall tales of her Jack ancestors, beginning with Jack I and his quest to plant his cherry trees in the perfect spot–her current home of Five Fingers, Michigan, right in the middle of the magically mysterious “thin place” where her home is located. But the land, the legacy, and the cherries have always been tangled up with the neighboring Angert family, resulting in a hatred that goes beyond a typical petty feud. When fate tragically strikes one family, the other is soon to follow. Despite the bad blood and bad luck, June didn’t begin to take the feud seriously until her father’s death. And now the family’s’ complicated relationship is at the forefront when the youngest Angert, Saul, returns home from a prestigious college writing program to care for his ailing father. For the first time, June and Saul’s paths continue to cross, and not always by accident. As a reluctant friendship turns into something more, a strange occurrence causes June and Saul to begin reliving scenes from the past. These memories make it clear that something sinister is behind the feud, and June and Saul must uncover long buried family secrets before tragic fate strikes again.

A Millions Junes, Emily Henry’s sophomore work, is my favorite kind of book. It’s magical realism at its best, complete with family curses, love, ghosts, grief, and a blurred line between fantasy and reality. June is a fantastic character–snarky and charming and flawed–and she misses her father with an ache that’s palpable from the page. Her best friend, Hannah, is equally as memorable. She’s more loveable than prickly June, but it’s their friendship and love for each other that stands out the most: when Henry writes the dialogue “You’re my first great love,” it’s Hannah and June having the conversation. And then there’s Saul, the sweetly alluring college boy with his own tragic past. He’s an atypical YA hero, yet just as swoony, and readers fall for him right along with June. The strange and slightly creepy magical elements of A Million Junes are never really explained, and readers have to suspend their belief and go along for the ride, something Emily Henry’s vivid writing makes it easy to do.

Just like all great audiobook performances, Julia Whelan’s narration of A Million Junes brings the story to a whole new level. Her voice is perfectly suited to the character of June, which may be the reason I liked this main character so much. Whelan pays special attention to pacing and characterization, highlighting Henry’s witty dialogue, complicated characters, and emotional story arc. This is definitely an audiobook I will be listening to again, and I highly recommend it for fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks, Volume 3

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominations, Volume 2

The Amazing Audiobooks Blogging Team is back with another round of amazing audiobook nominations, featuring historical LGBTQ romance, nonfiction, a murder mystery, a quiet contemporary, and a fantasy romance.

The Gentleman's Guide to VIce and Virtue

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, narrated by Christian Coulson
Audio Published by: HarperAudio
Publication date: June 1, 2017
ISBN: 9780062743114

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue follows the story of Henry “Monty” Montague’s Grand Tour of Europe. Accompanied by his dashing best friend, Percy, and his head-strong sister Felicity, the trio manages to find danger and adventure along their journey. Monty’s sexuality and general debauchery incites disapproval from his father, who threatens to cut Monty off if he does not change his ways. The Tour is Monty’s last chance, with the expectations of obeying his chaperone and becoming the respectable member of the British aristocracy he was born to be. Rather than succumbing to his father’s whims, Monty steals an artifact from the French court after a disastrous party, then proceeds to wreak havoc across the continent. Throughout their exploits, Monty’s relationships with both his friend and sister change, leading to personal revelations and growth.

One of the aspects of the audiobook that stuck most to me was the yearning Monty felt for Percy. The narration captured the love that Monty had for his friend, despite believing his feelings to be unrequited. I love romances of all flavors and the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling I got from listening to Monty’s thoughts about Percy made this one of the best love stories I’ve read recently.

This novel is perfect for fans of young adult gay romances like Becky Albertalli’s  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, as well as books by David Levithan, Adam Silvera, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. If could listen to British accents all day (Prince Harry, I’m available if you want to chat), and love your fiction with a dash of humor, this is the perfect audiobook for you.  Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominations, Volume 2

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominations, Volume 1

The Amazing Audiobooks blogging team is here with the first wave of nominations for Amazing Audiobooks! There’s something here: nonfiction, contemporary realistic fiction, and science fiction.

Undefeated by Steve Sheinkin, narrated by Mark Bramhall
Audio published by: Listening Library
Publication Date: January 2017


Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team is an incredible book that focuses on the secondary school football career of early sports star Jim Thorpe and his teammates at the Carlisle Indian School. The book discusses the rise of the football team under the direction of legendary football coach Pop Warner and budding celebrity athlete Jim Thorpe.

I know very little about the history of football (or the sport in general), but when I talked about this book to a few sports fans, they immediately knew the names of Pop Warner and Jim Thorpe, even if they didn’t know the full story. In this book, Sheinkin divulges an integral piece of sports and American history that is known by too few, and he does it in a way that is manageable and entertaining for both youth and adults. The book covers not only the history of football as a sport, but also the very negative interactions between the Carlisle Indian School and other colleges and universities at the time (particularly the Ivy Leagues). While he specifies that it is not the focus of the book, Sheinkin also discusses the terrible reality of the history between the US government, even the wider US population in general, and the Native American communities still in existence at the turn of the 20th Century.

Rather than read this book, I listened to Mark Bramhall’s audiobook narration of it. While listening, I often found myself imagining that I was a young child again, enjoying a bedtime story told to me by a grandfatherly-figure whose storytelling abilities abound. I do not doubt that the book stands on its own, in any case. However, listening to Bramhall’s reading felt as though I was watching a documentary: the measured pacing and calm dictation of the book’s content created a tone that painted a vivid picture of the characters and situations at the Carlisle School that feels both fun and scholarly at the same time.

Sheinkin discusses the person that was Jim Thorpe in a way that one might discuss a mythological figure: mischievous (but not malicious), rowdy, but beyond the physical reach of anyone else in the sport. Sheinkin also writes about Thorpe as though both his athletic prowess and his general spirit were indomitable. While this isn’t the first book written about Thorpe, Undefeated offers a story about an underdog whose combined natural talent, spirit, and determination helped him succeed in the face of never-ending adversity.


Though there are few overly dramatic moments in the book, there are a number of high intensity plot twists that keep the listener invested in the story. When the narrative starts to lull, Sheinkin does a fantastic job of jolting the reader with a tense and pressured event, like a major competition, a devastating loss, a thrilling win, or an explosive scandal. Bramhall keeps up with these ebbs and flows and does an excellent job of expressing the decreased or intensified emotion through his dictation.

Readers interested in reading other books about Jim Thorpe should try Jim Thorpe: Original All-American by Joseph Bruchac. If you’re a fan of football-based fiction, you should try Abbi Glines’s Field Party Collection, Paul Volponi’s Crossing Lines. If you like to read historical biographies about sports stars, you should check out Unbroken (Young Readers Edition) by Laura Hillenbrand or The Greatest: Muhammed Ali by Walter Dean Myers.

— Katrina Ortega Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominations, Volume 1