Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of Kiss and Tell by Adib Khorram

Kiss and Tell by Adib Khorram
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication Date: March 22, 2022
ISBN: 9780593325261

Hunter is a member of the internationally beloved boy band Kiss and Tell, on their first North American tour. He’s also the only queer member of the band, and going through his first breakup. A messy, public breakup, after his ex posts their texts online. As if that’s not enough, he’s contending with The Label creating and controlling his image of the perfect queer teen role model, and a budding romance with another musician on the tour. Homophobia is present in the text, though never condoned.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

Ace of Spades. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends, $18.99 (9781250800817). 

Ambitious queen bee Chiamaka and loner scholarship kid Devon are the only Black students at school. That’s all they have in common until an online bully going by the name “Aces” starts spilling all their secrets. Chiamaka and Devon will have to join forces to bring Aces down—or lose everything.

Bad Witch Burning. By Jessica Lewis. Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press, $17.99 (9780593177389). 

Katrell’s ability to converse with the dead has been earning her enough money to help her mom pay bills and buy food. When she makes a startling discovery about her abilities around the same time she receives a dire warning to stop using her magic, Katrell is faced with an impossible decision.

Barry Squires, Full Tilt. By Heather Smith. 2020. Penguin Random House Canada/Penguin Teen, $17.99 (9780735267466). 

After watching a performance of Irish step dancers, Barry Squires decides he was meant for tap shoes. The trick will be convincing everyone around him to give him a chance.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim Six Crimson Cranes: Six Crimson Cranes, Book 1 (Audible Audio  Edition): Elizabeth Lim, Emily Woo Zeller, Listening Library: Audible Books  & Originals

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim; narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Listening Library
Release date: July 6, 2021
ISBN: 9780593398883

Princess Shiori, the impulsive and headstrong daughter of the Emperor, is almost seventeen, and she has a secret. She has magical abilities–in a kingdom where magic is forbidden. Then Shiori discovers that her stepmother is a powerful sorceress. Before she can warn her family, her stepmother casts a spell that transforms each of Shiori’s six brothers into cranes and sends Shiori to the farthest corner of the kingdom, unable to speak and disguised unrecognizably. Shiori must break the curse to save her brothers and the kingdom, but doing so will make her rethink everything she knew to be true. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season Cover Art

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250624123

Latinx teen Graciela attends a party and is sexually assaulted along with a white boy she’s never met before. The boy has been drugged, so Ciela drops him off at the hospital before heading home, vowing to herself that she’ll forget everything that happened that night. Unfortunately, it turns out that forgetting the incident will prove to be difficult as Ciela discovers she has lost her talent for identifying which type of pan dolce the customers at her tia’s pasteleria want before they even know – the talent that earned her the nickname “La Bruja de los Pasteles.” She’s also noticing that objects around her are turning into mirrors, neighborhood trees are disappearing and the annual Santa Ana winds are conspicuously missing this year. To make matters worse, the boy Ciela took to the hospital is her school’s newest student and helping him might be the only way Ciela can start to get her life back.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon; Narrated by Carly Robbins
Simon and Schuster Audio
Release date: June 8, 2021
ISBN: 9781797123639

Wedding harpist Quinn has just graduated high school and her life has been laid out for her: attend business school nearby while continuing to help out with her parents’ wedding planning business, just as her older sister did. But Quinn is burnt out on love, especially after last summer when she confessed her feelings for wedding caterer Tarek and he vanished off to college without a reply. This summer he’s back and they keep getting thrown together to solve wedding emergencies, all while Quinn navigates telling her parents she doesn’t want to be a wedding planner and learning to build harps. 

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What to Do After Your Debut? Keep Writing, Of Course!

The 2021 Morris Award Finalists (shown above) were announced in December, and the winner will be revealed at the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 25. First granted in 2009, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award recognizes the most impressive debut published in Young Adult Literature each year.

With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.

2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.

In fact, several names on the 2021 BFYA nominations list were originally finalists for the Morris Award, including 2015’s Jessie Ann Foley, 2016’s Anna-Marie McLemore, 2018’s Nic Stone, and David Yoon in 2020.

Last year’s winner, Ben Phillippe, has been nominated. Both the winner of the 2019 Morris Award and one of its finalists have companion books that were nominated — Adib Khorram with Darius the Great Deserves Better and Tomi Adeyemi with Children of Virtue and Vengeance. And Becky Albertalli, the winner in 2016, is enjoying praise this year for Yes No Maybe So, cowritten with Aisha Saeed.

What about books out in 2021? Morris Award recipients have those, too!

Just released is Concrete Rose, 2018 Morris Award winner Angie Thomas’s follow up to The Hate U Give.

And out in August is In the Wild Light from 2017 Morris Award winner Jeff Zentner.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The moral of the story is this: no matter which finalist is chosen in 2021, we will look forward to reading them for years to come.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 30 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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Raybearer by  Jordan Ifueko; Narrated by  Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
ISBN: 978-1094149189

Tarisai has grown up living a privileged life surrounded by tutors, luxury, and protection in her realm, but she has never received love and closeness from anyone around her. She especially longs for attention from her mother, called The Lady. At 11 years old, Tarisai is sent to Oluwan City to compete for inclusion on Crown Prince Ekundayo’s governing Council of Eleven. If chosen, she will bond eternally with Prince Dayo and her Council siblings via a mystical Ray, and gain the human closeness she so craves. But Tarisai learns that before she was born, The Lady commanded a djinn to impregnate her with a child who must someday grant her third wish. Tarisai is that child. And The Lady’s third wish is to kill the prince Tarisai is now sworn to protect. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 11 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly Book Cover
Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
Scholastic Press 
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
ISBN: 978-1338268492

Her whole life, Sophia was told by everyone that her soft heart made her weak. After losing her heart to the queen’s huntsman (who also narrates the story), she gets a clockwork replacement from the seven men of the woods, and begins a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, she gains some unlikely alliances, who all help her see that kindness and empathy have a power of their own.

In this feminist retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, characters are often not what they first appear: a frighteningly large spider proves to be a gentle chef, a charming prince may be a heartless opportunist, and a wicked queen is a female ruler trying to hold her own in a world dominated by powerful men. Sophia grows from a browbeaten princess in need of rescuing to one who recognizes her own worth and figures out how to save not only herself but her entire kingdom.

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A Morris Award Reflection

Three years ago, I sat in a locked room and deliberated with my Morris Award Committee colleagues. We laughed and argued over the merits of each of our five finalists before reaching a decision. I was teary-eyed as our winner was announced and the audience cheered. I celebrated at the Morris/Nonfiction Award Ceremony and flew home that night, exhausted.

There is something special about the Morris Award because it is given to a debut novel. I feel a special connection to the five debut authors whose work I spent a lot of time with. Sort of the way I feel about my nieces and nephews — proud, but not because I had any real part in their creation. Like a good Auntie following my siblings’ children, I have followed the career paths of  the five 2016 Morris finalists. Here’s what they have been up to since 2016.

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#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, November 9 Edition

Tradition by Brendan Kiely
Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-481480345 

Jamie, a scholarship sports star with a past he wishes to truly leave behind, and Jules, a smart and fiercely feminist student form an unlikely friendship despite their differences. After an assault at a party, they both are faced with the toxic traditions of Fullbrook Academy and what they are going to do to change it.

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