Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review:The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

  • The Spirit Bares Its Teeth
  • by Andrew Joseph White
  • Publisher: Peachtree Teen
  • Release date: September 5, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781682636114

Silas Bell has ambitions of being a doctor and has some training on anatomy and surgical technique. However, Silas, a trans boy, has been tutored into submission to hide his autism and will likely be forced to marry as a doting housewife. He is sent away to a school for girls to cure their “Veil Sickness,” a claimed madness that afflicts violet-eyed people who can speak with the dead. Several girls go missing, and their ghosts begin to speak to Silas, launching him into a violent and twisted quest for the truth. 

This is a complex and compelling horror, mixing paranormal and psychological elements that will enchant readers. An exploration of the harm done to those that are “other” by society, with biting critique and deep compassion, White’s story set in the Victorian era feels eerily current.  Silas offers a well-developed protagonist, alongside a powerful cast of secondary characters. 

Teens seeking gory historical horror, with a deeper examination of various forms of oppression will find this a must read.  Readers who loved White’s Hell Followed with Us will definitely want to check out this title. Additionally, this would be a good pick for fans of The Honeys or The Wilder Girls.  

-Kaitlin Malixi

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 24, 2023
Release Date: April 18, 2023
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: May 2, 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.
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: This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham

  • This Delicious Death
  • by Kayla Cottingham
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • Release date: April 25, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781728236445

When melting ice-caps cause a new pathogen to be released into the world, an event called the Hollowing begins and those infected with the pathogen must consume human flesh or risk turning into a monster. Luckily, scientists are able to quickly create a synthetic meat allowing those infected with the pathogen to lead relatively-normal lives. All is going well until people start disappearing from a music festival. Can Zoey, Celeste and their friends figure out what is happening before the Hollowing takes them over? 

Cottingham has crafted a novel that is equal parts terrifying and responsive to modern-day teen issues. Underneath the body horror there are currents of Covid-19 trauma, fear of global warming, and a queer-normative story. The book is fast paced and keeps readers engaged while meeting teens where they are.

Teens who enjoy horror and thrillers with social commentary will like this book. Similar titles are The Getaway by Lamar Giles and The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Content warnings for: body horror and cannibalism.

-Zoe Smolen

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: In Nightfall by Suzanne Young

  • In Nightfall
  • by Suzanne Young
  • Narrated by Elena Rey
  • Books on Tape | Listening Library
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593667934

After their parents’ divorce, Theo and her brother Marco are packed into a car to spend the summer in their father’s hometown of Nightfall, Oregon. The rainy little town is cute in a touristy way, but Theo still misses her friends, the sunshine of Arizona and her mother- even if they aren’t speaking. When the siblings meet their strange, antisocial grandmother she says she has only one rule: be home by dark. On that first day, Marco and Theo meet a group of beautiful, fun girls. Minnow and the other girls seem to take a liking to the siblings and at first, it seems like it won’t be a completely boring summer. But soon, Theo discovers that her grandmother’s warnings weren’t just superstition: the streets of town and its residents change once darkness falls. And when Marco gets pulled into the glamour of their new friends, Theo realizes that she’ll have to be the one to keep her family safe. 

Young’s vampire story is full of an eerie ambiance. Readers who enjoy spooky tales and vampires will be pulled into the story. Rey’s narration keeps the reader engaged, enhances the chilling atmosphere and portrays a realistic teen point of view. Great for readers who enjoyed The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig, The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters and the classic vampire film The Lost Boys.

–Natalie LaRocque

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: The Black Queen by Jumata Emill

  • The Black Queen
  • by Jumata Emill
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House 
  • Release date: January 31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593568545

Nova is set to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High School. Her friend Duchess is thrilled to finally have representation on the homecoming court and sees it as a start to fighting racism at her school. Popular, white Tinsley was supposed to be homecoming queen and carry on her family’s tradition of being crowned queen. When Nova is found murdered the night of her coronation, everyone, including Duchess, suspects Tinsley. But as the investigation goes on more clues develop and soon Tinsley and Duchess are teaming up to find the true killer and bring justice for Nova.

The combination of social justice, petty high school drama and twisty mystery make this a fantastic ride of a read. The mystery is solved at just the right pace with clues and suspects falling off one by one until the final reveal. The commentary on institutional racism in schools and small towns helps drive the story forward and gives even more depth to the plot. 

Readers who enjoy books that are more than just a thrill will devour this quick read. Also those who enjoy small town murder-mysteries. For those looking for another complex mystery with hints of social justice should read Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé or The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson.

– Rachel Adams

Release Date: April 3, 2023
Release Date: September 13, 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.

Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Funeral Girl by Emma Ohland

  • Funeral Girl
  • by Emma Ohland
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
  • Imprint: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Release date: September 6, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781728458007

Georgia’s parents run a funeral home so she is surrounded by the dead. It seems only natural that she can also communicate with ghosts by simply touching a corpse.

Initially this ability seems to give Georgia purpose as she can honor one last request from the dead before they cross over. But eventually, one of Georgia’s classmates dies unexpectedly and enters the funeral home. She is torn over if she should reach out to this body and risk learning the truth. What would readers do if confronted with the same situation?

Readers who are curious about life-after-death and interested in ghosts and ghost hunting will find this title appealing. Additional recommendations include Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson, Horror Hotel by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren, and Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider.

– Jessica Lorentz Smith

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8, 2022
Release Date: January 24, 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 Featured Review: The Depths by Nicole Lesperance

  • The Depths
  • by Nicole Lesperance
  • Narrated by Phoebe Strole
  • Publisher: Books on Tape/Listening Library
  • Publication Date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780593630631

Addie is dragged along on her newlywed mom and step dad’s honeymoon trip to a remote tropical island. She is recovering from a deadly freediving accident and wants nothing but to return to the water. Eulalie Island promises to be the best place to heal, but Addie quickly learns that the island is hiding many deadly secrets. After discovering the trapped spirit of a young girl, Addie is determined to solve the island’s mysteries and set her free. But, she will need to be careful because she could easily become the island’s next victim.

Author Lesperance crafts a setting that feels like a character in its own right. The beauty of the island artfully hides the rotting horrors within and the narration of the story send chills down listeners’ spines. Each time the narrator, Strole, mimics the island’s birds trilling Addie’s name, the story becomes more haunting and impossible to shake.

Fans of Natalie D. Richards, Stephanie Perkins, and Lumara by Melissa Landers will enjoy this suspenseful production of The Depths.

-Sarah Carpenter

Other Nominated Titles

November 8, 2022
January 10, 2023
September 13, 2022
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.

Marvelous Meta-Horror for Halloween Season

Horror is at its scariest when it puts you into the perspective of its terrified victims, but if you’ve read or watched widely in the genre, it can be harder to feel those vicarious thrills, especially when you’re busy yelling at the characters to stop being so stupid. Enter meta-horror: where your extra knowledge of the genre is part of the fun. In meta-horror, the characters may realize that events are happening like in a horror movie; or the story may break the fourth wall and deconstruct horror tropes to do something unfamiliar. It may be as simple as including “wink-wink” references that a horror fiend may be delighted to recognize. Either way, these meta-horror books, movies, and games can be scary, clever, or funny, or all three. You can recommend these titles to your high school teen horror buffs who are looking to put their horror knowledge to good use.

BOOKS

Alone, by Cyn Balog (Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2019 nominee)

Seda’s mother inherits a crumbling mansion that was once a murder mystery hotel. Her mother is supposed to renovate and sell it, but she seems more interested in keeping it in the family. Seda likes all of the secret passages and macabre decorations at first, but it turns oppressive when a blizzard strands a group of teenagers at the house. To keep their new guests entertained, her mother decides to host a murder mystery like in the old days.

Continue reading Marvelous Meta-Horror for Halloween Season

Science Fiction and Horror Anime

Is there a void left in your horror-loving heart by the lack of a new season of Attack on Titan? Hopefully this post will get you through until there is an official release date for season two.  All of these recommendations feature graphic bloodshed and gore galore. They have been broken into three categories; steampunk, aliens, and stories from the monster’s’ point of view. The anime titles that headline each category definitely straddle that Teen/Adult territory where violent science fiction and horror media is often caught. Sensitive readers beware, these titles are not for the faint of heart; or stomach, for that matter.

If you like your horror to have a steampunk twist, watch: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

(This title is so new to the US market that it has not been assigned a rating, but Amazon.com’s Viewing Restriction coding is currently classifying it as a Mature title)

Kabaneri of the Iron FortressThe Kabane have overrun Japan. Once a person is bitten they join the ranks of these difficult to kill and viciously hungry monsters. Set during an alternate industrial revolution where the remaining population of Japan is restricted to fortress stations, the only safe way to travel is by steam powered trains whose transit lines are controlled by elite families.

The twelve episode series has been described as Snowpiercer meets Attack on Titan. An ongoing show, this is a top notch survival-action horror anime with no manga adaptation (…yet).  It has the same alternate reality/history flavor as Attack on Titan.

…then read:

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This 2011 Michael L. Printz award winner may be set in the future not the past, but the post apocalyptic thriller still deals with class division of the disenfranchised. The action sequences and travel elements are sure to keep the attention of any fan’s of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein by Gris Grimly, adapted from the book by Mary Shelley

Want more creatures with consciences and experiments gone awry? This graphic novel adaptation of the trials of OG mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and his gentleman monster is a fresh and visually stunning take on the classic story.

If you prefer alien invasion horror stories, watch: Parasyte: The Maxim

(rated TV-MA on the Internet Movie Database)

ParasyteAlien pods fall from the sky, and the horror that emerges from each casing is driven by one need:  to consume a human host, take over their identity and then continue feasting on humanity until they take over the planet. The alien that attempted to consume high schooler Shinichi Izumi missed his brain and instead takes over his right hand. Now that Migi is fused to his nervous system and the two are neither wholly alien nor human they must work together in order to survive both the aliens’ appetites and the humans defending their lives.

The manga of Parasyte, written and illustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki, came out in 1988 and the whole series has a classic 80s horror movie vibe. It was clearly heavily influenced by the special effects in John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982, Rated R)(MPAA www.mpaa.org.  A series of extreme violence in all of its iterations, but where the manga suffered from a lack of developed female characters, the anime steps up to the plate and a compelling story emerges that explores personhood while really torturing it’s main character.

…and then read:

The Animorphs Series created by Katherine Applegate

A group of humans and one alien are given the ability to morph into any animal they have contact with. Their goal is to protect humanity from an invading force of extra terrestrials with the power to merge with the brain of their human hosts. Intrigue and fairly gory action abound this 54 book series where the enemy aliens could be anyone and anywhere. No one is safe.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Waves of attacks by aliens technologies have battered all of humanity but Cassie has a mission. She has to rescue her young brother, and she won’t let anything stop her. Even Them. The stakes are high in this series, and, like in Parasyte, the challenges of survival will push the main character to her breaking point.

If you prefer read something from the point of view of the monster, watch: Tokyo Ghoul

(rated TV-MA on the Internet Movie Database)

Tokyo GhoulAn experimental surgery saves the life of college student Ken Kaneki after he barely survives a violent attack. When he discovers that he has inherited the same craving for human flesh as his attacker, he is suddenly immersed in an underground society full of territorial monsters and struggles to find a way to survive without losing his grasp on his humanity.

Both this extremely popular show and the manga it was based on by Sui Ishida show sequences with graphic dismemberment and torture. The newly turned Ken’s isolation and self loathing make the series intense emotionally as well as visually, but the anime’s pace is slightly accelerated and the beautiful animation makes the show a bit easier to engage with than the book.

…and then read:

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Jessie’s life after death is disrupted when an infection begins to spread through the zombie population. A complex weave of characters, balanced with viscerally grotesque descriptions of mealtimes make this a unique read.  Jessie is a practical sort of zombie and she stirs your sympathies even as she horrifies you with her table manners.

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Delaney survives after eleven minutes beneath the surface of an iced over lake and comes back … different. The only person who seems to understand her inexplicable connection to death is Troy, but can she really trust him? What is she willing to give up to find out more about these new feelings? This book has a slow build, but the subtle sense of dread eventually expands to the same level of intensity as the more introspective sections of Tokyo Ghoul.

— Jennifer Billingsley,  currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.

 

Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

If you are like me, you’ve been ready for Halloween since August 1st. Not everyone is so Halloween-happy. Maybe you haven’t bought out the grocery store’s stock of canned pumpkin or purchased a new shade of orange nail polish, but, like it or not, October is upon us, which means you may have teens swarming your stacks in search of something to creep them out and give them nightmares. In my experience I get more requests for “scary stories” than horror novels.  With that in mind I’m going to highlight some collections of short stories sure to meet various spine-chilling needs as well as give some horror specific readers’ advisory tips.scary stories for halloween

Remember-

  • “Scary” is subjective. Every reader is going to be comfortable with different levels of the supernatural, violence, gore, etc. A good way to assess what type of horror a reader wants is to ask them what their favorite scary book is. If they are not an avid reader you may need to ask about their favorite scary movie or scary television show. You are probably going to want to recommend a different book to a fan of The Sixth Sense than you would to a fan of Saw.

 

  • If you are not a horror reader yourself or get scared easily, it’s OK for you to tell teens this. Particularly with younger teens this may help them to be more open about how scary they want their stories to be. If you aren’t a horror reader, however, you will want to familiarize yourself with the popular horror titles in your collection. If you can pick the brain of a fellow staff member or teen volunteer who reads a lot of horror, this is a great start.

Continue reading Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA

TeenBooks

Adults reading young adult  books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it!  YA  has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.)  Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.

Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions?  Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance.   There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books.  Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works)  can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.

Horror/Serial Killers

i hunt killers barry lyga coverJames Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero.  Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.

rottersStephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner) and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner) Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!

Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Edgar Allen Poe fans can’t help but enjoy Bethany Griffin’s The Fall and Masque of the Red Death couplet. These atmospheric tales were inspired by Poe’s short stories.   It’s also a refreshing change of pace to find quality literary horror featuring strong female characters. Continue reading Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA