Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Rubi Ramo’s Recipe for Success by Jessica Parra, Narrated by Karla Serrato

  • Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success
  • by Jessica Parra
  • Narrated by Karla Serrato
  • Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Publication Date: May 16, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781666633634

Senior Rubi Ramos has a plan. 1. Get accepted to Alma University and 2. Become a successful lawyer, just as her bakery owner, Cuban-American parents expect of her. But when Rubi is waitlisted, she’s determined to fix that by finding a math tutor and leading her debate team to the championship, all while keeping the waitlist and baking beyond her work at the bakery a secret. What could go wrong? It turns out Rubi’s passion for baking and competing in the bake off could help with being accepted to Alma and also help with realizing her dream. 

Jessica Parra’s debut into YA features topics she is familiar with as a lawyer and the daughter of Guatemalan and Cuban bakers. Parra’s characters are both entertaining and believable and Serrato’s narration gives personality to each. The cover gives romance, yet overall the story is more coming-of-age with Rubi’s relationship with her parents, her friends, and her teammates as well as the decisions she ultimately has to make.  

For readers who enjoyed  A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey; reading about the expectations of traditional family values in When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon or the strong-willed protagonist in Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.

-Lysha Thompson  

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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu

  • Stars and Smoke
  • by Marie Lu
  • Narrated by Becca Q. Co
  • Macmillian Audio
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250877451

Winter Young is a pop star phenomenon. Sydney Cossette is the youngest-ever member of an elite covert ops group, Panacea. Winter is known world round while no one truly knows Sydney. They live worlds apart until Winter is recruited to join the ranks of Panacea’s elite spies to take down a criminal tycoon, Eli Morrison. The assignment is to infiltrate Eli’s house, Winter is the perfect person to get past Morrison’s security as entertainment for his daughter’s birthday party, and Sydney is assigned to be Winter’s bodyguard and his fake love interest. Their mission starts off smoothly, but the longer Winter and Sydney are in Morrison’s home, the more dangerous their assignment becomes, and the more their fake relationship begins to feel real.  

Becca Q. Co expertly brings to life Marie Lu’s latest novel. Co’s narration adds drama to the slow-burn espionage romance. She breathes life into Winter and Sydney as they follow the twists, turns, and dangers of going against an international drug lord. Lu’s signature writing is evident in the intricate and sprawling plot, strong charming characters that walk off the page, and masterful world-building. Fans of Ally Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes will enjoy this fast-paced adventure that is perfect for reluctant readers

–Rebecca Baldwin

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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong

  • Nightbirds
  • by Kate J. Armstrong
  • Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
  • Books on Tape | Listening Library
  • Publication Date: February 28, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593664292

With a kiss, Nightbirds bestow powerful magical gifts, as long as you have enough money to pay for it. In a world of prohibition on magic, the Nightbirds, or magically gifted young women, are the wealthy’s most notorious open secret.  This season’s Nightbirds, Matilde, Æsa, and Sayer, need to serve their benefactors while snaring a lord to marry so that the tradition can continue. However, when a deadly plot threatens the Nightbirds and their world, these young women learn there are far more secrets than they could have ever expected. Matilde, Æsa, and Sayer will need to rely on old and new friends to stay alive and decide what their future will hold. 

Political intrigue, magical secrets, and romance push this novel forward like a runaway train and keep listeners hanging onto every word. Narrator, Saskia Maarleveld matches this fast pace expertly by adding to the excitement and playing up the intrigue. Not only will listeners be pulled in by the plot, but Maarleveld’s skillful narration creates distinct voices for the masterfully developed characters of the novel. Nightbirds breathes to life a new fantasy series that readers will devour and impatiently wait for more. If your reader has finished Holly Black’s Cruel Prince or Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and is looking for something more, give this new series a try.

-Sarah Carpenter

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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

  • Warrior Girl Unearthed
  • by Angeline Boulley
  • Narrated by Isabella Star LeBlanc
  • Macmillian Audio | Macmillan Young Listeners
  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250877277

Perry Firekeeper-Birch just wants to enjoy her summer. But when a close call with a bear causes her to have a car accident she is forced to complete an internship at her tribe’s museum. There she learns about NAGPRA and repatriation (or lack thereof) of ancestors from a local university. She and her friends embark on a journey to bring their ancestors home by any means necessary. All the while, Native girls are going missing under mysterious circumstances, which is an issue that is all but ignored by the authorities. Warrior Girl Unearthed is a heartfelt story full of mystery and intrigue with realistic depictions of issues faced by indigenous people.

Isabella Star LeBlanc’s narration masterfully brings the story to life with her pronunciation of Ojibwe language and her captivating tone. The narration enhances the story by providing readers with an authentic voice depicting the native language spoken by the tribe as well as the reservation accent and code switching. 
This book is perfect for readers who enjoy authors such as Angie Thomas, Courtney Summers, Darcie Little Badger, or E. Lockhart. Those who enjoyed Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, will enjoy this story as well.

– Haley Shaw

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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

  • Promise Boys
  • by Nick Brooks
  • Narrated by Renier Cortes, Christopher Hampton, Alfred Vines, and a full cast
  • Macmillan Audio| Macmillan Young Listeners
  • Publication Date: January 31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250877253

The Urban Promise Prep School is determined to create responsible, upstanding, college-bound young men out of all of its students. Principle Moore, the founder of the school, says that following the school’s unyielding discipline is what it takes to escape the violence of the students’ neighborhoods and to make it to college.  When Moore, a beloved pillar of the city of Washington D.C. turns up murdered in the school, three detention students are immediately suspects. J.B., Trey and Ramón. Each maintain that there is no way they could have committed the crime, no matter how much it may look like they did. The students and their friends are soon working together to discover who really murdered Principle Moore and why.

Nick Brooks has written a compelling mystery that will appeal to lots of different readers. The short chapters and constant change in point of view helps create urgency in the plot making this a fast read, even for reluctant readers. This is produced to great effect in the audiobook due to a full cast of narrators and sound effects. Readers who love crime or mystery and gravitate toward the television version of One of Us is Lying, the books of Karen McManus or Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades will enjoy Promise Boys.

-Natalie LaRocque

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 29, 2022

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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Some Kind of Hate byy Sarah Darer Littman

  • Some Kind of Hate
  • by Sarah Darer Littman 
  • Narrated by Michael Crouch and Andrew Eiden 
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. | Blackstone Publishing
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
  • ISBN:  9798212170697

Declan knew his future was in baseball until he unexpectedly, and permanently, injured his arm. In the vacuum of this loss, Declan scrabbles to find his place and it is in a local white supremacist group where he finds others with the same level of rage. While everyone in Declan’s life struggles to understand how he got to this place, none are as confused or upset as his long-time best friend, Jake, who also happens to be Jewish. As Declan’s actions get scarier and scarier, Jake struggles with how to stop Declan before he does something irreversible.  

Dual narrators, Michael Crouch and Andrew Eiden, give clear voice to Jake and Declan (respectively) by showing how insidious hate groups can be and the struggle of combatting hate in unexpected places in life. Eiden ensures that Declan’s quick descent into extremism feels authentic and compelling. Crouch’s reflections on Jake’s frustrations push readers to these same spaces. Together, the narrators give passion to Darer Littman’s important and timely story. 

This audiobook pairs perfectly with Isaac Bloom’s The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, and books by John Feinstein. 

 -Sarah Carpenter 

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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix by Kalynn Bayron

  • My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix
  • by Kalynn Bayron
  • Narrated by Clifford Samuel
  • Publisher: Macmillan | Macmillan Young Listeners
  • Publication Date: March 7, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250877239

Part of the Remixed Classics series, this latest work from author Kalynn Bayron updates Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic gothic novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for a modern young adult audience. In Bayron’s version, narrator Gabriel Utterson is a young medical student rather than an attorney; however, conflict arises because he is also African American and queer and dealing with the racism and homophobia of late 19th-century London. After he and his best friend, Henry Jekyll, are expelled from the London Medical School amid rumors of their relationship, Henry begins growing increasingly distant from Gabriel about the same time as the mysterious Hyde shows up. Despite Gabriel’s jealousy of Hyde, who seems to live at Henry’s house, he begins to realize something is not quite right and becomes determined to discover what is going on with his friend.

Clifford Samuel does an extraordinary job narrating as his deep voice perfectly suits the dark mood and gothic atmosphere of this story that reveals that monsters aren’t always the ones you think they are, especially in a society where your worth is determined by the color of your skin and whom you choose to love. Fans of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein and Self-Made Boys, as well as Bayron’s other works are likely to find appeal in this book.

-Jennifer Balke

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 31, 2023
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Release Date: September 13, 2022
Release Date: February 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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

  • We Deserve Monuments
  • by Jas Hammonds
  • Narrated by Tamika Katon-Donegal
  • Recorded Books, LLC | Recorded Books, Inc
  • Publication Date: November 29, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781705069530

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson planned to spend her senior year with her best friends before following her mother into academia. Her plans derailed when her parents relocated their family from their DC home to Bardell, Georgia to care for her dying grandmother, Mama Letty. As soon as they arrive in Bardell, she encounters systemic racism and homophobia that bi-racial, queer Avery had never experienced in her privileged life in DC. Avery spends her days with Mama Letty, who has grown bitter from age, illness, and the lasting impact of her husband’s unsolved disappearance. As Avery learns more about her family and Bardell, she uncovers a history of racism and secrets about her grandfather’s disappearance that may be more sinister than she could have imagined.

Tamika Katon-Donegal artfully narrates Jas Hammonds’ winner of the John Steptoe Award for New Talent Award. Katon-Donegal breathes life into Avery as she struggles with uncovered secrets. The narration is heartfelt and perfectly expresses Avery’s emotions as she learns her family’s history and develops feelings for a new love interest. Yet, the audiobook’s greatest strength is the atmospheric reading that creates a mood that perfectly expresses the book’s underlying mystery. Fans of Camryn Garrett’s Off the Record, and Jumata Emill’s Black Queen will enjoy this LGBTQ+ slow-burn mystery.

-Rebecca Baldwin

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 28, 2023
Release Date: February 7, 2023
Release Date: January 10, 2023
Release Date: January 31, 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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Eric Yang

  • Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor
  • by Xiran Jay Zhao
  • Narrated by Eric Yang
  • Simon & Schuster Audiobooks | Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication Date: November 11, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781797158914

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by best-selling author Xiran Jay Zhao takes readers on an exciting journey through Ancient China with a modern twist. Zachary Ying is a normal boy just trying to navigate school, figure out his identity as a Chinese American, and play his favorite virtual reality video game, Mythrelm. Suddenly, his game becomes more reality than virtual when his VR headset is possessed by the spirit of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China. Zachary, his two new friends, and three of China’s former emperors embark on a journey across China to save the world.

Narrator Eric Yang brings the story to life with his masterful narration and multiple character voices. The audiobook format for this story is also excellent to help readers learn pronunciation of Chinese words and names throughout the story.

This book is perfect for readers who enjoy authors such as Rick Riordan, Aiden Thomas, and Elizabeth Lim. It is also a good story for those who enjoy games like Yugio, Pokemon, Dungeons and Dragons and other roleplaying games.

-Haley Shaw

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 31, 2023
Release Date: January 10, 2023
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Release Date: February 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.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: What Happened to Rachel Riley by Claire Swinarski

  • What Happened to Rachel Riley?
  • By Claire Swinarski
  • Narrated by Ferdelle Capistrano, Alexandra Hunter, Karla Serrato, Gail Shalan, Reena Dutt, Caitlin Davies, Andrew Eiden, and Kirby Heyborne
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books/Harpers Collins Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780063213128

New to East Middle School, Anna Hunt quickly discovers something puzzling about her new classmates; they all ostracize Rachel Riley. After searching social media, Anna realizes that Rachel was popular last year, but no one will tell her what happened between then and now. Anna can’t let the mystery go, so she uses her budding podcasting skills to try to uncover the whole story. As clues begin to pile up and take her to surprising places, Anna realizes that maybe her question wasn’t so simple and that the answers may not be either. 

This story is told through a wide variety of writing forms, like text messages, emails, and letters, which the audio production successfully navigates by using a full cast of narrators and sound effects. Also, the variety of narrators solidifies the far-reaching impact of the story and truly gives voice to the many perspectives. While this novel explores serious contemporary social issues, it remains light and empowering. Listeners will be pulled in by the mystery and will stay as they are inspired to make changes to their own worlds. 


Listeners fired up by Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie or Carrie Firestone’s Dress Coded, will continue to fan that passion with Claire Swinarski’s What Happened to Rachel Riley?.

-Sarah Carpenter

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.