An Interview with 2021 Morris Award finalist Isabel Ibañez, author of Woven in Moonlight

The William C. Morris Award is awarded each year to a debut YA publication. After considering the wealth of excellence each year, the committee selects 5 finalists, announced in December. From these, the winner is chosen (2021: Kyrie McCauley’s If These Wings Could Fly) though all of the finalists demonstrate unique greatness in every page.

Finalist Isabel Ibañez has lots of talents, and in her debut Woven in Moonlight, she puts them all to excellent use. From art to storytelling, Ibañez delivers a complete package full of action, emotion, and history. As she builds this rich and beautiful world, she helps readers build empathy and understanding.

author Isabel Ibañez

We are grateful to Isabel for her book, her voice, and her art! We are also grateful for the time she granted for this thoughtful and fascinating interview!

The Hub: Woven in Moonlight is a celebration of the senses: smells, colors, sounds, food! What was your motivation behind including all those sensorial experiences?

II: I don’t want to assume, but I don’t know of any other YA author who is Bolivian, so when I was drafting this book, I felt this awareness that for a lot of people this would be an introduction to Bolivia. I wanted to do Bolivia justice because I grew up going there, and my whole family is from there. My brother and I were the only ones born in the United States. It’s where my grandparents are, and I have something like 27 first cousins. I love Bolivia. I know the way it smells, how it tastes, the food, I love the art, and I can see myself walking down these streets because it’s like another home for me. 

The decision to include all those details is because I wanted people to experience it the way I experience it. Woven in Moonlight is a profoundly personal story, so deeply tied to my lived experience, my culture, what you would see on our dinner table, the politics and the history – all of it was really influential in writing this book.

Continue reading An Interview with 2021 Morris Award finalist Isabel Ibañez, author of Woven in Moonlight

Booklist: Pride Month Reading

June is Pride Month and ALA’s GLBT Book Month both of which celebrate the lives and experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) people. You can join the Pride movement yourself with this reading list to keep you busy for the rest of June and into the summer.

cover art collage for Booklist: Pride Month Reading

  1. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler: Vanessa Park is passionate about acting and loves being on set–even with her flirty co-star Josh Chester. Van’s happy to have her new career handler, Brianna, but unsure what to do when her friendly feelings for Bri become something else.
  2. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (2016 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers): Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a seventh generation hostage. She knows to follow the rules even with her country on the brink of war. Elián Palnik is a new hostage who refuses to accept any of the tenets of the Children of Peace, forcing Greta to question everything she believes and all of the rules as she struggles to save Elián and herself.
  3. Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman: Alex feels like her life is finally coming together when she stops hormone treatments and chooses to live life as a girl.
  4. Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry: Brooklyn expects to find her people and her niche at a summer apprenticeship at the Allerdale Playhouse. She and her roommate Zoe hit it off immediately. But as their friendship turns into something more, Brooklyn realizes that love isn’t nearly as simple as she thought.
  5. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults): When Alex’s spell to get rid of her magic backfires and her family disappears from their Brooklyn home, she’ll have to travel to the world of Los Lagos to get them back with help from her best friend Rishi and a strange brujo boy with his own agenda.
  6. George by Alex Gino: Charlotte wants everyone to see her for who she really is and to play Charlotte in her class play of Charlotte’s Web. But for any of that to happen she has to come up with a plan to help everyone know the real her instead of the boy they see when they look at her.
  7. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2017 William C. Morris Debut Award): Caught between her traditional Portuguese parents and her friend Colby who wants loyalty for things Pen isn’t sure she should support will force Pen to find her own way through.
  8. None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio: Kristen had her life figured out until her decision to have sex with her boyfriend changes everything Kristen thought she knew about herself.
  9. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults): When Rafe moves to a new all boys’ boarding school he decides to start with a clean slate where he isn’t “the gay kid.” Except keeping a secret like that isn’t easy. Especially when he might also be falling in love.
  10. Pantomime by Laura Lam: Gene runs away from nobility where being intersex could have Gene shunned forever. Hoping to escape her stifling life, Gene reinvents herself as Micah Grey–a performer quick to dazzle with his aerialist skills.
  11. Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson: Can fan fiction turn to true love for two superfans of a popular TV show?
  12. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (2017 Alex Award): Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children takes in used-up miracle children who have outgrown their knack for finding hidden lands. When a new girl, Nancy, arrives it becomes clear that a darkness lurks at the home and it will be up to Nancy and her schoolmates to unravel the secrets of the Home and their own pasts.
  13. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Can best friends Miel and Sam protect Miel and the roses that grow out of her wrists from the Bonner sisters, rumored witches, who seem intent to stealing them at any cost?
  14. Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian: Will doesn’t know why he hooks up with his best friend Angus. He doesn’t think he’s gay–especially not when he’s so into Brandy, a new girl at his school. But how can he love and want them both so badly?
  15. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Ramona is six feet tall. She knows she likes girls, she loves her family, and she knows her future is going to be amazing. Her growing feelings for her childhood best friend Freddie make Ramona question everything she knows and show her that life, and love, are much more fluid than she thought.
  16. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (2016 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2017 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): When it feels like every week there’s a new impending doom, sometimes the most extraordinary thing to do is live your regular not-chosen-one life. Even if your best friend is worshiped by cats.
  17. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee: Tash doesn’t know what to think when her obscure web series skyrockets to fame and popularity. The sudden fame can take her online flirtation to IRL but first Tash has to figure out how to explain that she’s romantic asexual. Oh and there’s the whole delivering the best web series ever to her forty thousand new subscribers.
  18. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2017 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers): Amanda’s plans to keep a low profile during her senior year are tested when she meets Grant and feels understood for maybe the first time. But she isn’t sure how to get closer to Grant and her new friends with her newly public transgender identity.
  19. What We Left Behind by Robin Talley: Dream couple Toni and Gretchen fully expect to stay together as they start college. Then Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, finds belong for the first time with a group of transgender classmates while Gretchen tries to remember who she is without Toni at her side. Can love keep them together as they start to grow apart?
  20. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Interspersed with Darcy Patel’s story of trying to find herself and become a professional author is the story that brought her to New York in the first place: Lizzie’s adventures in Afterworlds. Darcy and Lizzie’s worlds blend together in this story about facing your fears and finding yourself.

Continue reading Booklist: Pride Month Reading

Monthly Monday Poll: March – Favorite 90s Fantasy

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubHappy Monday, Hub readers.

Last month, we asked about circulation of books with screen adaptations currently or imminently available for viewing. Leading the pack by a substantial margin with 51% of the vote was Hidden Figures. Next was Wonder with 15% (the movie’s release date was actually just pushed back to Summer 2017, so we’ll be waiting a little longer on that), then the The Handmaid’s Tale at 12%, 13 Reasons Why with 9%, Before I Fall with 7%, a scant 1% for Riverdale/Archie comics, and no circulation boost to speak of for The Circle (I guess Emma Watson’s probably doing enough for book circs playing Belle this month…).

This month, in honor of the recent (utterly delightful) news that Philip Pullman is publishing a new Book of Dust trilogy, we’re looking back to some beloved 90’s YA fantasy gems. Since the term YA has evolved quite a bit in the past three decades, some of the series I included could be/have been considered Children’s, and some serious classics were published in the late 80s and so had to be left off (cough, Sandman, Howl’s Moving Castle, cough). As always, please share in the comments the titles I’ve overlooked!

[poll id=”227″] Continue reading Monthly Monday Poll: March – Favorite 90s Fantasy

Equal Rights Through Fantasy and Science Fiction

Current events sparked a conversation about the disenfranchised in America.  Racism and sexism can be tough subjects to start with teens and a great way to begin is with fantasy and science fiction.  These genres often approach these topics using witches or another class of people as metaphors for real life disenfranchised groups.  If you are thinking about discussing our current political and social climate with your book club or classroom, consider the titles below.



Zen likes trains especially the rails in his alternate universe in space.  When a mysterious man named The Raven pays Zen to steal a box from the train of the emperorer, Zen isn’t sure if The Raven is evil or if it’s the government that’s evil.

Disenfranchised-Non Magical

Elli is the Saadelah, next in line to be queen, and has accepted her duty to serve and protect the Kupari people with ice and fire magic.  When her time to reign has suddenly begun, something goes tragically wrong and Elli is forced to hide in the Outlands with the thieves and murderers.  Her time in the Outlands is full of family, love, and a new purpose.

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemJK Rowling

Disenfranchised-Witches and Wizards

On a brief stop in New York City, Newt Scamander accidentally releases some of his magical beasts onto the city.  While trying to recapture his beasts, Newt; a nomaj; and two American witches find themselves on the hunt for an Obscurus who’s destroying the New York. Continue reading Equal Rights Through Fantasy and Science Fiction

5 Books to Read Based on Your Ilvermorny House

It’s Harry Potter season!  Everyone knows about the Hogwarts houses and most people have taken the sorting quiz but what’s the new American wizarding school all about and how do you pronounce it?  Ilvermorny (ill-ver-mor-ney) is where American witches and wizards go to study their craft.  If you’d like to learn more about the history, you may visit the Pottermore website.  You can get sorted into an Ilvermorny house on Pottermore while learning the character traits associated with each house.  After you get sorted, check out the following books that you may enjoy based on your new American wizard house.

Thunderbird House- Thunderbirds have soul and they attract adventurers.


Harper is a ballerina. She works hard but she can’t seem to be as great as her best friend.  When she comes up short on her dream, Harper decides to find her meaning of life on an Antarctican expedition.

Leila is on a road trip to see the Northern Lights and she meets four teens on her travels.  Although their time together is brief, Leila makes a deep impression.

Minn is stuck with her father and new stepmother in Mississippi.  When Minn overhears that her mother is ill back in her hometown of Ohio, she steals her stepmother’s money and hops on a bus.  On her way, Minn meets an attractive photographer, a homeless teen with Down’s Syndrome, and other nefarious people.

Zen likes trains especially the rails in his alternate universe in space.  When a mysterious man named The Raven pays Zen to steal a box from the train of the emperorer, Zen isn’t sure if The Raven is evil or if it’s the government that’s evil.

Blue Riley’s mother has died and her sister has run away. Desparate to find her only family, her sister, Blue makes a deal with the devil.  On a cross country trip to locate her sister, Blue encounters new friends, loves, and enemies. Continue reading 5 Books to Read Based on Your Ilvermorny House

Booklist: So You Want to Read a Scott Westerfeld Book

Scott Westerfeld is one of the most inventive sci-fi writers writing for teens right now. His book Uglies helped lay the groundwork for the dystopian trend that would take hold in a few years with The Hunger Games. With a new co-authored series in the works, a movie adaptation of Uglies in development, and a new multi-platform middle grade series launch later this year, Scott Westerfeld is definitely an author you should know.

Not sure where to start with so many series, standalones, and sub-genres to choose from? Don’t sweat it, this post has you covered!

If You want a Space Opera:

cover art for The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds by Scott Westerfeld

  • The Risen Empire: Captain Laurent Zai of the Imperial Frigate Lynx is tasked with rescuing the immortal Child Empress when she is kidnapped by machine-augmented humans threatening the empire. This story, originally packaged as one book called Succession, begins in The Risen Empire and concludes The Killing of Worlds.

If You Want to Read a Standalone (Mostly Contemporary) Novel:

cover art for Afterworlds and So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

  • Afterworlds (2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Chapters alternate between Darcy Patel’s journey as a debut author of what promises to be the next Big YA Novel and excerpts from Darcy’s novel about a girl named Lizzie who slips into the “Afterworld”–a place between life and death–during a terrorist attack.


  • So Yesterday: Hunter Braque moves through New York searching for Innovators–people who create the latest trends before they’re cool. Then he sells the ideas to clients who disseminate the ideas (via trendsetters) until each new fashion innovation becomes mainstream. When Hunter teams up with an Innovator to get to the bottom of his best client’s disappearance, he finds himself at the center of a far-reaching mystery involving trends, innovations, and the coolest sneakers he’s ever seen.

Continue reading Booklist: So You Want to Read a Scott Westerfeld Book

Booklist: Steampunk Reads for Teens

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that is usually set in the late 19th or early 20th century. It’s notable for a unique aesthetic featuring clockwork and steam-powered technology. As it has gained popularity, steampunk has begun to include themes ranging from alternate history to time travel and can be set in the near past, the distant future and anywhere in between.

If you want to learn more about steampunk as a genre you can check out the Hub’s steampunk genre guide written up by Colleen Seisser. Carli Spina has you covered if you’re looking for some steampunk comics by female authors. If you’re still not sure where to start, read on for more recommendations.


If You Want Adventure:


  1. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): When fourteen-year-old Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality she soon discovers that deceit and espionage part of the curriculum along with etiquette and dancing.
  2. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff: Sent to capture an arashitora for the Shogun, Yukiko soon finds herself stranded in the wilderness with the creature. This unlikely pair will have to set aside their differences and work together when Yukiko hears of the Shoguns injustices from a secretive man named Kin and the rebel Kage cabal.
  3. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2005 Printz Award Honor): Cabin boy Matt and heiress Kate travel the skies via airship searching for elusive winged creatures rumored to live in the clouds.
  4. Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler: Wren McAvoy works as a coal miner in a domed city. After two hundred years, everyone takes life in the dome for granted. The only problem is that the coal is running out. When a friend escapes the dome he is used as a gruesome warning for those who try to challenge the established society. But his last words to Wren–“The sky is blue.”–will set Wren on a path that could change everything.
  5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Alek–heir to the clanker Austro-Hungarian Empire–and Deryn–a girl disguising herself as a boy to serve as a Darwinist airman–have to form an uneasy alliance if they hope to stave off the coming World War which begs the question: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them?

Continue reading Booklist: Steampunk Reads for Teens

Booklist: YA Fiction for Fans of Game of Thrones

WINTER IS COMING; I promise it is and it arrives on April 24th.

Game of Thrones is very violent and very sexual; do teens watch really watch it? Yes! Some of them even watch it with their parents.  Why is Game of Thrones so popular?  It’s about maniacal kings and powerful women and dragons and war and magic. What’s not to like?

Whichever theme your teens find intriguing, there’s a book for that.

game of thrones read a likes

Maniacal Rulers

A reimagining of Alexander the Great where seven people have secrets and missions.

Laia is a Scholar, the lowest of the low, and her brother has been taken by The Masks.  He is her only living family member and she will risk her life to find him.  Elias is a Mask but he doesn’t want to be.  Laia and Elias’ paths cross when Laia goes undercover as a slave at Elias’ military school to get information on her brother.

King Gaius has a plan to take over Mytica at the expense of everyone including his son, Magus. Continue reading Booklist: YA Fiction for Fans of Game of Thrones

Booklist: New 2016 YA Fairytales with Fierce Female Main Characters

In the past, a common argument against traditional fairytales has been the detrimental stereotypes of women that they portray. Over the years, fairytales have been reinvented to reflect our current society, as evidenced by the change from Grimm’s or Perrault’s versions to Disney’s iconic films.

Still, women’s roles have changed drastically from those seen in the 17th and 19th centuries, and even the 1950’s! Today’s girls and young women are now highly encouraged to stand up for themselves, speak out and break patriarchal barriers. This trend has translated into traditional fairytales and folktales being spun with stronger female protagonists.

fierce fairytales

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

First in a planned trilogy, the story of Snow White loosely frames a gripping fantasy. After Queen Irina steals both the throne and her father’s life, Crown Princess Lorelai is a fugitive in her own country and hunted by a shape-shifting prince desperately trying to save his kingdom. However, Lorelai is determined to win back her crown, and despite the danger to herself, allies with the dragon prince to kill Queen Irina. This battle for a birthright is complete with love, magic, poisoned apples, and a princess who develops into a fiery, determined heroine.

Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

The second book in Liz Braswell’s Twisted Tales series and beginning after the end of the Disney film version, Princess Aurora is stuck in her own dreams in a world turned on its head. Maleficent is the benevolent, caring ruler of a terrifying kingdom. Meeting Prince Philip on her journey through the kingdom, Aurora comes to realize that her reality is magically hijacked by Maleficent’s power. Only Aurora has the courage and power to save her kingdom from this coldly calculating evil.

Everland by Wendy Spinale

A bombed and disease-ridden World War II London is overshadowed by the deadly German army known as the Marauders under Captain Hans Otto Oswald Kretschmer. Since most if not all the adults are dead from illness, Gwen Darling tries to protect her two siblings from being kidnapped by the Marauders but fails when Joanna is taken. Together with new allies Pete, Bella, and Pete’s gang of Lost Boys, Gwen is determined to face Hook and save her sister in this first novel of a trilogy. Continue reading Booklist: New 2016 YA Fairytales with Fierce Female Main Characters

Is This Just Fantasy?: Adult Fantasy Fiction with Teen Appeal

As a librarian, I love providing reader’s advisory help to teens with all different interests and preferences. However, I must admit that I especially love helping a fellow fantasy fan discover a new title or author.  And as many of our library’s most devoted high school readers remain especially loyal to this genre, I have the opportunity to do this on a regular basis.  These voracious readers are constantly looking for new books and they’ve often exhausted the young adult offerings of the moment.  And that’s where having a healthy collection of fantasy published for adult fiction market comes in!
fantasy series adult with teen appeal
Last spring, I shared several adult fantasy authors and titles popular with my students but it seemed about time to provide an update! Here are some adult fiction titles likely to please a variety of eager fantasy readers.

The trend of historical fantasy continues to grow in both young adult and adult fiction.  These first two titles would be excellent recommendations for teens who favor fantasy and historical fiction or Jane Austen novels.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho 
(2016 Alex Award nominee)
As the Napoleonic Wars rage abroad, Britain struggles at home as the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers grows increasingly dissatisfied with the newly elected Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe.  Although he was raised and trained by his predecessor Sir Stephen, Zacharias’ dark skin and past as a slave have always barred him from gaining true acceptance in society and the continued magical draught provides the perfect excuse for the Society to oust him.  But when Zacharias journeys north to inspect the border with Fairyland, he meets Prunella Gentleman, an orphan whose remarkable magical ability might be wasted in a world where women are not permitted to practice magic.  Together, Zacharias and Prunella set out on a quest that will alter the state of sorcery in Britain irrevocably.

Shades of Milk & Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
In another magical alternative version of Regency England, gentlewoman Jane Ellsworth and her sister Melody practice delicate glamour magic and circulate through polite society, all for the purpose of making a good marriage.  But while Melody’s beauty attracts suitors easily, Jane is 28 years old, unmarried, and possibly more talented at glamour than a lady should be.  The arrivals of the wealthy young Mr. Dunkirk and the gruff glamourist Mr. Vincent to the neighborhood set into a series of unforeseen events that will push Jane’s talents and strength to new limits.   The Glamourist Histories series continues in several more novels.
If your readers would prefer a gritty steampunk setting to a Regency drawing room, this next title might be the perfect pick–especially if they like a good murder mystery!
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (2016 Alex Award nominee)
In Rapid City, airships buzz through the air as hopeful miners travel through on their way to Alaskan gold fields and steam-powered robots work the waterfront. And at Madame Damnable’s high quality bordello, a young prostitute named Karen Memery is just trying to make her way through this unforgiving world.  Then one night, a pair of injured and abused young women end up on their doorstep, on the run from brutal gangster and brothel owner Peter Bantle.  In the days that follow, Karen and the other girls at Madame Damnable’s become involved in horrific murder mystery, tracking down a serial killer slaughtering prostitutes around the city.

Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy?: Adult Fantasy Fiction with Teen Appeal