Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: The Fox Maiden by Robin Ha

  • The Fox Maidens
  • by Robin Ha
  • Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
  • Publication Date: February 13, 2024
  • ISBN-13: 9780062685124

All Kai Song wants to be is a warrior like her father, who happens to be commander of the Royal Legion. While her father does train her in martial arts, the rest of her community isn’t ready for a woman to be a warrior; not to mention, they believe that she is the granddaughter of Gumiho, the nine-tailed fox demon. On the day Kai starts her first period, she starts experiencing strange changes and finally learns about her mother’s past. At the same time, the family is targeted by assassins. Kai must maneuver all of this and learn to fight her own destiny to become who she wants to be.

The Fox Maidens takes a traditional Korean legend and turns it into a queer retelling featuring a strong female lead. Explanations before the story that describe the origins of the myth aid in world-building. The bold illustrations and vibrant colors draw you into the story so that you can almost feel the characters moving around you. Ha keeps you engaged throughout this fast-paced story that has both action and romance.

Readers who enjoyed the courageous lead in Squire by Nadia Shammas and Jen Wang’s romance in The Princess and the Dressmaker would enjoy this read. Anyone that has delved into the world of fantasy Korean Dramas similar to A Korean Odyssey or Guardian: The Great and Lonely God would also find this read very entertaining.

—Jessica Duong

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: October 10, 2023
Release Date: September 26, 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.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

  • Gwen and Art are Not in Love
  • by Lex Croucher
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release date: November 28, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250847218

The marriage Gwen and Arthur’s parents have arranged will finally cement the alliance between their families, except for two problems. One: they hate each other. Two: they’re both gay. Things go from weird to worse when Arthur discovers a sinister plot against Camelot that puts all of their lives in danger. Their only chance for survival is to work together–if they can only stop arguing long enough.

This book is the perfect blend of funny and heartfelt. The story may take place in the Arthurian era, but the charming banter and the tender exploration of coming out to your family–and an entire kingdom–makes it relevant for teens today.
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love is the book for teens who want multiple kinds of queer relationships in one sitting, plus a wholesome friendship. Give this book to readers of So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens and These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling.

– Yona Yurwit

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/BFYA25TeenFB

10 Questions with Jamie Pacton! (Part One)

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We chatted with Wisconsin author, Jamie Pacton, ahead of her latest YA fantasy release, The Absinthe Underground. Jamie’s previous novels include The Vermilion Emporium and two contemporary YA novels, The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly and Lucky Girl. She has a forthcoming YA romance, Furious, written with Rebecca Podos, due out summer 2024.

1) Jamie, let’s chat about your books as a whole. You’ve written in a few different genres–contemporary, fantasy, romance–which is your favorite? Do you find it difficult to write across genres or do the stories kind of tell themselves?

I feel so lucky to have published across many genres (and there are more new and exciting things in different genres and age ranges in my publishing pipeline!). I don’t find it difficult to write in different genres– a story is a story and characters are characters be they in worlds with dragons or worlds with cell phones– and I think if you keep that in mind, it’s very possible to move among genres as a writer as the stories and your own interest takes you. I love all my books, but fantasy is forever and always my first love. All of the new projects I’m working on are fantasy ones, and I just thrive on creating new worlds, magic systems, and figuring out how it all works together and then plopping characters into those worlds and seeing what happens. 

2) What was your favorite book as a teen? 

I read a lot of very serious adult books as a literary-minded teen– (I remember devouring Anna Karenina by the ocean one summer, for goodness sake, lol.) But I also absolutely loved romance novels and some of the early YA-ish books that were publishing in the late 90s. Things like Homecoming by Cythia Vogit and all of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasy books. My absolute favorite book as a teen was By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey, which is about a fierce, sword-wielding woman in a magical world, and if you’re read my debut, The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweety, you can see why this book was entirely my jam as a teen. 

3) What makes Absinthe Underground so special to you? 

The Absinthe Underground is a story that’s particularly close to my heart. Here are 10 reasons why:

*I carried this story for more than a decade— from when I first got the hint of an idea at an art exhibit in 2012 to now. I carried this story for more than a decade—

*It’s a cozy, tender novel about two best friends who are (secretly) in love with each other and will do anything— even go to Fae— to protect the girl they love. 

*It’s full of cats. Really, there are so many cats! (7 in one apartment alone!)

*It’s a love letter to all the queer people in history who have had to love each other secretly, and it’s a story of hope for queer kids now that’s full of joy and possibility. 

*It’s the “The Were Roommates…” trope writ large with a hearty dose of magic, danger, dragons, Fae queens, and much more. 

*It’s about overcoming fear and the freedom that’s waiting on the other side of that journey. 

*It’s full of Fae magic and a portal fantasy about a lush Fae world!  

*It’s got a decadent, Belle Époque night club like the Moulin Rogue, which is full of artists, writers, and dancers, and many other people drawn from history. 

*It’s also got a green fairy who’s hanging out in our world, who is terrifying and beautiful in equal measure. 

*It’s an absolute romp of a book with poster and museum thefts, a heist in Fae, magical traps, and much more. 

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Different for Boys by Patrick Ness

  • Different for Boys
  • by Patrick Ness
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Release date: May 14, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781536228892

Ant Stevenson has three best friends: Charlie, Josh Smith, and Jack Taylor, and they became best friends all because they were sitting together alphabetically. Anthony “Ant” Stevenson isn’t sure when he stopped being a virgin. Or even if he has. The rules aren’t always very clear when it comes to boys who like boys. It’s different for boys when they do stuff together, like hang out. Or when they try out for soccer or football.
Content Warning: Homophobia

This is a good candidate for QPRR. It has themes of friendship, masculinity, finding oneself, and sexuality. You really feel yourself get into the story with Ant, Charlie, Josh, and Jack. It’s about boys figuring out that they might have changed, and what they want to do with their lives.

For readers who also enjoyed the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman, and Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

– Molly Sprague-Rice

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 14, 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: Pride and Prejudice and Pittsburgh by Rachel Lippencott

  • Pride and Prejudice and Pittsburgh
  • by Rachel Lippencott
  • Narrated by Natalie Naudus and Shakira Shute
  • Simon & Schuster Audiobooks | Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication Date: August 29, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781797161617

A spin on a regency romance, Pride and Prejudice and Pittsburgh is a Sapphic time travel story about finding yourself. The main characters, Audrey and Lucy, are brought together when a toss of a coin transports Audrey from 2023 Pittsburgh to 1812 England. Through the course of the story Audrey and Lucy each embark on journeys of personal discovery; Audrey needs to find herself to find her way back home and Lucy needs to find a new place where she can be herself.

The narrators do an excellent job bringing these characters and their emotional journey to life. Natalie Naudus’ rich tone gives voice to Audrey beautifully and Shakira Shute’s expert portrayal of the raw emotion of Lucy’s story makes listening to the audiobook very immersive.

This title is perfect for readers who enjoy Casey McQuiston, Ashley Poston, and Mackenzi Lee. It is also great for fans of Bridgerton and Outlander.

-Haley Shaw

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 4, 2023
Release Date: November 7, 2023
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Release Date: June 13, 2023
Release Date: March 21, 2023
Release Date: January 31, 2023
Release Date: January 17, 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.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome

  • For Lamb
  • by Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • Publisher: Holiday House
  • Release date: January 10, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780823450152

Lamb Clark doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about all the things she cannot change in Jackson, Mississippi. Her mom, Marion, does, though.  All her life, Lamb has heard her mother demanding strength of Lamb and her older brother, Simeon.  Hardship and keeping out of the way of white folks is just a way of life, and keeping one’s head down when white mobs go on a lynching rampage is a matter of life and death for the Clarks. That’s why Lamb’s forbidden friendship with Dr. Tremper’s daughter, Marny, is dangerous. Lamb and Marny share a love of reading, a parent who is not in the picture, and older brothers who try to parent the girls. Their difference is that while Lamb’s brother, Simeon, could be accused of and lynched for taking liberties with a white woman, Marny’s brother, George, can assault Lamb and then bring a mob calling for “justice” when Simeon retaliates. 

Cline-Ransome uses multiple perspectives–each with a unique voice–to bring readers into the violence of 1940s Mississippi. Like Emmett Till’s mother who insisted on an open casket, Cline-Ransome lays bare the brutal ugliness of a time period of history in which citizens of our country were treated with savage indifference and gross injustice. The plot is compelling. Lamb’s fears of what others will think of her, her aggravation with a mother who doesn’t seem to understand her, and the longing for a relationship with her father are universally recognizable, making the terror with which she lives daily all the more palpable. The conclusion is breathtakingly painful, and yet Cline-Ransome manages to end the story on a note of hope.


This is a book for teens who connect with characters empathetically. It will be especially appreciated by those who want to understand how historical traumas inform current events. Readers who connected with Liselle Sambury’s Delicious Monsters, Angeline Boulley’s Warrior Girl Unearthed, or Ruchira Gupta’s I Kick and I Fly will also find this an unforgettable story.

-Jodi Kruse

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: September 26, 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.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: This Dark Descent by Kalyn Josephson

  • This Dark Descent
  • by Kalyn Josephson
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Release date: September 26, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250812360

Mikira Rusel’s family was once famous for breeding enchanted horses, but their ranch has fallen on hard times thanks to the spite of the Kelbras family, one of the Great Houses of Veradell. When Mikira’s father is discovered to be an unlicensed enchanter and arrested, Mikira makes a dangerous bargain with Rezek Kelbras: if she wins the Illinir, an infamously lucrative, but dangerous, horse race using an unenchanted horse, her father will be freed. To do this impossible task, she partners with an upstart nobleman, Damien, and a practitioner of forbidden magic, Arielle, who have their own reasons to hate the Kelbras. Yet Mikira wonders if, in pursuit of their own revenge, her allies will eventually become enemies as well.

This Dark Descent is compelling, fast-paced, and intricately plotted. Dual narrators Mikira and Arielle are strong, sympathetic characters, two women who are tired of being powerless in an unequal society, but who come to have vastly different, conflicting ideals when wresting power for themselves. The dynamics among this group of secret rebels is fascinating, as Mikira, Arielle, and Damien all have something precious to lose that brings them together while also putting them at cross-purposes. Josephson expertly balances each character’s desires, motives, secrets, and moral codes to craft a taut thriller filled with bargains, betrayals, sacrifices, and revenge. The four horse races that make up the Illinir are packed with action and danger, while the introspective character moments make it clear what is at stake. The enchantment-based magic system is unique and steeped heavily in Jewish lore of the golem. Josephson also includes bisexual and demiromantic characters and references other queer couples in the story to make a queer-inclusive fantasy world.

Teens who love morally gray characters, twisty political intrigue, and dark magics will find much to love here. Readers of other dark fantasies with epic stakes like A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, and The Young Elites by Marie Lu will appreciate the worldbuilding and political intrigue. Those who enjoy the racing aspect may also enjoy The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin.

-Krista Hutley

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 24, 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.
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 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: The Buried and the Bound by Rochelle Hassan

  • The Buried and the Bound
  • by Rochelle Hassan
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Release date: January 24, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250822208

Aziza is the only hedgewitch in her Massachusetts hometown and is the only one who can protect the town from the fairyland that exists in the woods. When the barrier between her town and the fairyland in the woods starts thinning, Aziza teams up with Leo, a local boy who is desperate to solve the curse that has caused him to forget his true love. Together, Aziza and Leo will have to work with a mysterious necromancer, Tristian, and other fairyland creatures to save their hometown from the force that is causing the barrier to thin.

This fast-paced contemporary fantasy features strong familial bonds, found family, and interesting characters. Hassan draws on mythology to form the basis of her world, using creatures that are familiar and some that may be new to teen readers. Aziza, Leo, and Tristian all have their own unique points of view which aid the story in moving along quickly. Each of the  three main characters occupy different places in society and teen readers are sure to see themselves in at least one character. While there is a solid conclusion to the ending, the novel sets up book number twice quite nicely and leaves the reader looking forward to more.

Teens who like a queer-positive, diverse, and fast-paced story will enjoy this book. This book is great for readers who enjoyed Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, The Witchery by S. Isabelle, and These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. 

-Zoe Smolen

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 25, 2023
Release Date: April 11, 2023
Release Date: June 6, 2023
July 25, 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