Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Your Lonely Nights Are Over by Adam Sass

  • Your Lonely Nights Are Over
  • by Adam Sass
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Release date: September 12, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593526583

Dearie and Cole are ready to take on their senior year as they always have, together as a team of fabulous, inseparable gay besties. But when a serial killer from decades earlier makes a comeback in their hometown, taking on senior year means taking on a murderer. Together, the two try to piece together how the past murders relate to the present so they can catch the serial killer before he catches them. 

This fast-paced thriller will have teens on the edge of their seat and keep them guessing. The classic murder mystery vibe is taken to new heights with a diverse group of characters, all members of their high school’s Queer Club, now having to fight for their lives. The book feels especially true to today, with the serial killer’s exploits featured in a true crime documentary that the teens use to try and solve the case.

Your Lonely Nights Are Over is a great pick for teens obsessed with true crime or serial killers who don’t mind a little blood. Teens who liked the murder mystery There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins or the irreverently ghoulish This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham are sure to enjoy this book.

-Kameron Morton

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

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: This Day Changes Everything by Edward Underhill

Abby Akerman, a clarinet player from small town Missouri, eagerly anticipates her high school band’s performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, where she plans to confess her love for her best friend Kat. Simultaneously, Leo Brewer, a trans boy from North Carolina, is on a similar trip. His fears of being outed to his conservative Southern family over live television overshadow any excitement about the parade or sightseeing. The universe intervenes when Abby and Leo meet on the wrong subway train, leading to them getting lost and Leo accidentally losing Abby’s carefully prepared gift of her favorite romance novel for Kat. The two, though slow to warm, embark on a whirlwind mission to find souvenirs from locations mentioned in the lost book gift. As they journey from Chinatown to Grand Central Station to the Empire State Building, they realize that this day might hold the potential to change everything for them both. 

Underhill beautifully portrays the confusion and wonder of coming of age as a queer teenager amid the enchanting winter atmosphere of New York City. Embracing familiar romance tropes with charm, this novel has it all from marching bands, grumpy/sunshine, and a 24-hour romance. Through alternating narratives that are separate and distinct, Abby and Leo undergo profound growth, both individually and in their relationships. 

This will appeal to teens who love a grumpy/sunshine trope and a slow burn romance.  Hand to teens who want more marching band content like in Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher. This title also has a similar whirlwind vibe to Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson.

-Alicia Kalan

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

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy by Faith Erin Hicks

  • Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy
  • by Faith Erin Hicks
  • First Second
  • Publication Date: October 3, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781250838728

When hockey player Alix can no longer handle her team captain Lindsay’s constant insults, she loses her temper and punches Lindsay, at which point their coach threatens to pull her recommendation for Alix to attend a hockey camp over the summer. Realizing she needs help controlling her temper, she appeals to drama guy Ezra, who she notices is always cool in the face of homophobic bullying. In the ensuing friendship and budding romance (Ezra eschews labels but says he is “attracted to lots of different people, not just guys”), the two realize that they’re both more complicated than the stereotypes other people see them as, and that perhaps they like that about each other.

Faith Erin Hicks’ artwork excels in portraying both quiet, emotional moments and zippy action on the hockey ice. The limited pale blue palette of the illustrations lends an emotional resonance that wouldn’t be conveyed in the same way by full color. The story itself also manages to deftly pack in a number of common high school issues, including parental disapproval (and in fact, teens’ disapproval of their parents’ choices—the parents in this book are far from perfect!), bullying and homophobia, the decision to label one’s sexuality (or not), and how to decide if your dreams are worth fighting for.

Hockey Girl will appeal to fans of other LGBTQ sports romances like Kelly Quindlen’s She Drives Me Crazy and Jennifer Dugan’s Some Girls. It is a perfect next choice for fans of Check, Please who want to stay on the ice but are ready for a more complicated story. Readers of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman will also appreciate that Hockey Girl’s fluffy rom com surface belies a similarly surprising emotional depth.

Lee Stokes

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 5, 2024
Release Date: March 21, 2024

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2025) Feature Review: Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Gwendoline, princess of England in Medieval times, hates Arthur, descendant of the legendary King Arthur, to whom she is betrothed. The feeling is mostly mutual as the now teen royalty have grown up at odds with each other. During the summer knight tournament, the two learn secrets about the other that shows how much they actually have in common: Gwen and Art are both queer. As they attempt to live up to their parents’ expectations while also exploring other romantic interests, Gwen and Art grow closer together, even as tensions in the kingdom swell around them. Croucher avoids using modern words to identify the characters’ sexuality, but Gwen reads as demisexual and sapphic while Art reads as gay. Some homophobia exists in the text, but is appropriately vilified.

Although the action takes a while to start, readers will be hooked by both of the point-of-view characters’ snarky narrations. The Medieval setting is not stuffy, as some historical fiction can be, matching the cute and light cover art. The dialogue is full of banter, and the fake dating trope is unique in that the characters remain un-attracted to each other throughout the scheme. The book is a rare historical romance in its engaging characterization even without a plot-heavy first half.
Readers who enjoyed Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue or books in the Remixed Classics series, like Caleb Roehrig’s Teach the Torches to Burn, will love this book.

Dakota Hall

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Mall Goth by Kate Leth

  • Mall Goth
  • by Kate Leth
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Publication Date: September 26, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781534476943

Malls make a comeback in this early 2000s-inspired book about a teen looking for community and a place to be herself. Liv Holme is a high school student who moves to a new town while her parents struggle in their marriage, and she discovers the mall as solace. Trying to find her place at school, Liv slowly befriends two classmates who share similar interests and aesthetics and captures the attention of one of her teachers. Little does she know that the new-found validation from an authority figure at school may devolve into something sinister. 

Mall Goth explores the intricacies of being a teen in a new school and trying to find one’s place. The book presents common scenarios teens struggle with, particularly the possibility of falling victim to predators. The characters are authentic, relatable and likable. They are representative of different body sizes, and even if there isn’t much cultural diversity present, it feels like it channels a small town’s energy. The art is compelling, and the color palette fits the story’s mood and the characters’ quirkiness. 

People interested in Mariko Tamaki will find it enjoyable, as it has similar vibes to I Am Not Starfire and Skim, as well as those that loved Netflix’s Wednesday. As a bonus, for those who loved or enjoyed the 2000’s rock music scene, a recommended playlist for the book would definitely include Linkin Park, Evanescence, Korn and Deftones.

–Verónica Muñiz-Soto

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: September 5, 2023
Release Date: November 4, 2022

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid by Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert

  • Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid
  • by Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert
  • First Second
  • Publication Date: 2/13/2024
  • ISBN-13: 9781250193513

Molly Bauer is thrilled to be starting freshman year at PICA, the (expensive) art school that dominates her hometown of Peachtree, Georgia. But when she shows up for the first day of orientation, she finds her full-ride scholarship has vanished due to a bureaucratic mix-up. Desperate to fix the issue without letting her moms find out, Molly stumbles upon the perfect solution – a little-known athletic scholarship that will pay for a full year of tuition. The only requirement? She’ll need to assemble a rag-tag group of softball players and win a single game. 

Bunt! is a charming and laugh-out-loud funny mix of sports and romance, as well as an acknowledgement of the complexities of navigating scholarships, student debt, and institutions of higher education. Mad Rupert’s art style is bold and vibrantly colorful, contributing to the fun and fast-paced energy of the story. Characters display a wide range of skin tones and body types, and multiple queer identities are represented. 

Fans of Ngozi Ukazu’s previous series Check, Please! will be sure to enjoy the similar mix of energetic humor, college sports, and queer romance. Readers looking for more of the quirky group dynamics and unlikely-sports-team-made-up-of-art-kids antics of The Avant Guards will find much to enjoy in Bunt!. Bunt! will also appeal to watchers of the TV series A League of Their Own who enjoy sapphic romance and queer characters and are willing to make the jump from baseball to softball. 

-–Meg Bowie

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.