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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Unfamiliar, Vol. 1 by Haley Newsome

  • Unfamiliar, Vol. 1
  • by Haley Newsome
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Publication Date: December 6, 2022
  • ISBN-13: 9781524876838

Unfamiliar by Haley Newsome, based on her webcomic of the same title, follows plucky kitchen witch Planchette as she and her rabbit familiar, Winston, move to a witchy town in search of like-minded friends. Unfortunately, her new abode has raised the wrong kind of spirits–ghosts to be exact. Using her predicament as an opportunity to meet new friends, Planchette pulls together an unlikely group of witches and familiars to solve her problem. 

Newsome’s cute, expressive illustrations present characters that all feel unique and likable in a warm, dusky color palette. Upbeat, fast-paced storytelling packed with easy humor, feel-good vibes, and a sprinkle of queer romance make difficult subjects like loneliness, death, and anxiety go down easy. Magic is largely non-violent and used as a fun support, like an umbrella that functions as a personal rain cloud for a character who is feeling extra sad and wants everyone else to know it. 

This comic’s group of underdogs will appeal to teens who enjoy witchy stories of friendship like the Witch Hat Atelier series by Kamome Shirahama or the Netflix series Little Witch Academia. The easy yet quirky comedy is also a good fit for fans of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe and the Bee and PuppyCat comics and animated series.

—Adam Wheeler

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: September 27, 2022
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: April 11, 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.