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.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt

  • Aces Wild: A Heist
  • by Amanda DeWitt
  • Publisher: Peachtree Teen
  • Imprint: Holiday House
  • Release date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781682634660

Jack attends a private school in Massachusetts and runs an underground, literally in the basement, blackjack ring where he uses his card counting tricks learned from his life in Las Vegas where his family owns and runs a casino.  Things seem to be running smoothly until he sees his mother arrested on TV and has to race back to Las Vegas.

Jack is ace and has a group of internet friends that have found each other as allies who are also ace that live around the country. When Jack’s mom is arrested, he makes an impulsive decision to fly his friends to Vegas to help him figure out what happened. Many bad decisions are made, but they have each other to rely on.

Readers who love the idea of taking risks in casinos and banding together with friends on a mission will enjoy Jack and his friend gang. Similar reads are The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass, Overturned by Lamar Giles.

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 4, 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: 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.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: The Minus-One Club by Kekla Magoon

  • The Minus-One Club
  • by Kekla Magoon
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Release date: January 24, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250806208

When fifteen year-old Kermit returns to school after losing his older sister in a car accident, he finds a message signed “-1” in his locker, inviting him into a group of fellow students dealing with grief. The unlikely mix of students crosses cliques and grades and includes Kermit’s long-time crush, Matt. The club is always there for each other but has one rule: you don’t talk about what happened to your loved one.

This title shows a realistic and nuanced approach to grieving. Strong characters strengthen the impact of the intricate exploration of the intersectionality of religion, personal identity, and loss. Kermit’s struggle is universal.

A life-affirming read for teens experiencing hardship, The Minus-One Club will appeal to readers looking for authentic characterization and relatable realistic fiction. Comparable titles include Chaos Theory by Nic Stone for the similar subject matter about depression and loss, Golden Boys by Phil Stamper for the exploration of identity, and What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum for unlikely friendships and dealing with grief.

-Emily Williams

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.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: The Queens of New York by E.L. Shen

  • The Queens of New York
  • by E.L. Shen
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release date: June 6, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780063237957

Jia, Everett, and Ariel are best friends.  While they attend different schools and come from vastly different families, one thing that remains the same is their immovable friendship.  As summer begins in New York City, the three friends embark on separate journeys.  Everett heads to Ohio for an intense musical theater workshop, Ariel sets off for San Francisco to attend pre-college courses on a STEM scholarship, and Jia stays home to help with her family’s restaurant and to keep an eye on her little sister and ailing grandmother.  While they are scattered across the country, they never lose sight of their relationship and draw on each other’s strengths to get through the challenges each one faces during this summer of reckoning.

A diverse cast of characters comes together in an outstanding example of teenage friendship.  Told through three distinct voices with interjections of texts and emails, readers will identify with the authentic portrayal of teen relationships and struggles such as conforming to parental ideals and the loss of a loved one.

Teens who enjoy realistic fiction and coming of age stories will love The Queens of New York.  Readers who are looking for a summer vacation, beach, or airplane read, will devour this tale of summer romances, heartaches, and victories. Perfect for fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares and Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen.

– Maryjean Riou

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.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB

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.

Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Spells for Lost Things by Jenna Evans Welch

  • Spells for Lost Things
  • by Jenna Evans Welch
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
  • Release Date: September 27, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781534448872

White-coded teenagers Willow and Mason meet during their first days in Salem, MA. Willow is there to help her mother tend to a relative’s death; Mason is there to join a new foster family. When Willow learns that her mother has been hiding details of her past, Mason jumps at the chance to help Willow find answers. In turn, Willow wants to help Mason find his birth mother. The two have instant chemistry, a charming first relationship, and a ton of humor. Weaving Willow and Mason’s mysteries throughout the novel leaves readers rooting for the pair. Dual narration audiobook.

This title is a good candidate for QPRR because many different readers can enjoy this novel given that it is a blend of genres (romance, cultural lore, paranormal, mystery, fairytale). Welch’s class critique that financial stability does not circumvent anyone from feeling neglected by their family is powerful. Set during the summer, the tiny seaside town adds to both the romance and intrigue of the story, and Welch names actual locations in Salem creating a travel guide of the town. Both of the protagonists and many of the secondary characters are developed sufficiently to leave readers wanting more, while the three plot lines contribute to a robust story building. 


The teen reader who would appreciate this title is someone who likes adventures and/ or cozy mysteries. This novel incorporates light fantasy elements perfect for people who enjoy Sabrina the Teenage Witch; Jackpot by Nic Stone (2019); The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2016)

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.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Featured Review: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

  • The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
  • by Issac Blum
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Imprint: Philomel Books
  • Release Date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780593525821

Hoodie moves to a small Philly suburb with his family and members of their Orthodox Jewish community. It’s culture shock for the residents and for Hoodie, who has never had close contact with non-Jewish people. With the mayor leading the charge against her newest neighbors, Hoodie befriends her daughter, Anna-Marie, much to the horror of his family and community. As they try to maintain their rocky friendship, the tension in town boils over leading to horrifying outcomes.

Hoodie’s amusing inner and outer dialogue bring levity and laughs to a serious story. The ripped from the headlines events are understandable to readers and perfectly portray how situations can quickly become volatile in the age of social media. Hoodie and Anna-Marie are polar opposites yet they both struggle with the confines placed on them by their parents and seek to find a balance that works for them.

Hand this to readers interested in issues-oriented stories and fans of In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton and Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8, 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.

Genre Spotlight: Horror for Teens

photography of cat at full moon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Fall is an excellent time to get into some spooky, haunty, ghoulish titles, and there are a variety of new books to tantalize teens. Horror isn’t so much a genre with a specific set of rules, but a mood that comes into a variety of other genres whether it is fantasy, paranormal, mystery, historical, or realistic and can contain elements of slasher, body horror, gothic, dark fantasy, or folk horror just to name a few. There are a variety of short story collections and novels for teens, and some adult crossovers to suggest that will be sure to give teens thrills and chills in whatever their genre inclinations are.

Continue reading Genre Spotlight: Horror for Teens