Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2025) Feature Review: Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

When she was younger, Valentina Tran’s favorite holiday was her namesake, Valentine’s Day. But then her father tells her to stop making cards and a classmate named Jae trashes the one she gave him. Now that she’s older and has learned that her father lied to her about mother’s supposed death, she no longer believes in love; in fact, she thinks her family is romantically cursed. Complicating matters is the ghostly presence of St. Valentine, offering to spare her heartbreak if she gives up her heart to him. But then she meets a pair of lion dancers at a Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration – one of whom is Jae – and decides to try to learn the dance herself. She falls in love with it, and also begins dating her dancing partner and Jae’s cousin, a cute boy named Leslie who won’t define what they have together. Val has to grapple with her relationship with her father, the mother she believed abandoned her, her undefined relationship with Leslie, and her growing feelings for Jae before St. Valentine comes for her answer.

The art and storytelling weave together to tell a beautiful story, one of Val’s personal growth as well as a love story. Humorous touches keep the story engaging, as well as the vibrant art. Lion dancing especially shines, the movements seeming to leap off the page as well as show how different Asian cultures have different depictions of the lion and ways of dancing.

Graphic novel and romance enthusiasts will both enjoy this book. For readers who enjoy a sweet romance with a touch of magic, try Crumbs by Danie Stirling. Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa is another title featuring a gentle romance complicated by a love triangle and differing expectations. Fans of author David Yoon’s YA romances should also enjoy this book.

Leanna C.

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

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: The Diablo’s Curse by Gabe Cole Novoa

  • The Diablo’s Curse
  • by Gabe Cole Novoa 
  • Narrated by Vico Ortiz
  • Imprint / Listening Library
  • Publication Date: February 20, 2024
  • ISBN: 9780593795033

After living most of their existence as the apprentice of a Diablo, Dami finally gets the opportunity to change from demon to human. They only have to cancel every deal they’ve made…in less than a year. This leads them on the path of adventure as they find a lost treasure, and nullify a deadly curse. 

Sometimes the best way to experience a story is to hear it being read to you. Adventures can be among the most exciting to listen to as an audiobook. The Diablo’s Curse is a very humorous adventure that is reminiscent of an old fairy tale. On top of that, this story features a character that is nonbinary. Something that many teens will not only relate to, but also enjoy reading about. It also is an aspect that is unfortunately rarely seen in a majority of literature. 

The narration for this book was phenomenal. Vico Ortiz’s Spanish accent and pronunciations were flawless. Their reading and accurate portrayal of the characters’ voices just added another level to the story, bringing it to life. 
Anyone who loves a good treasure and The Curse of Oak Island, will find similar aspects as they follow Dami and Silas on their hunt for the cursed treasure. This book also shares the similar plot-line of a demon wishing to leave that line of service and wishing to enjoy life among humans, as the television show Lucifer.

– L.B. Ferguson

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 9, 2024
Release Date: February 27, 2024
September 5, 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.

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

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

After the mysterious death of her parents, Inez Olivera sets out from her home in Argentina to visit the place they lived and lost their lives, Egypt. There she meets her new guardian and his handsome assistant who try to send her back home to Buenos Aires. Instead, she sneaks onto a ship headed to the archaeological site where her parents were last seen in the hopes that she might uncover the truth behind their disappearance. Along the way the magic she is using to guide her search ends up leading her to uncover more than just the truth about her parents’ death.

What the River Knows is a historical fantasy set in Egypt in the 1880s. It is full of adventure, mystery, magic, and intrigue. The immersive setting, engaging plot, and strong characters come together to create a world that will draw readers in and keep them engaged with twists and turns. The narration of Hamad and Osorio does an excellent job expressing the emotions and tension of the characters and situations in the book. The narrators have a strong grasp of proper pronunciation of words in multiple languages in the book.The use of music and multiple narrators was also a nice addition to the overall production.

Readers who enjoyed Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross or books by Chloe Gong or R.F. Kuang would enjoy this story. It would also be a perfect read for fans of The Mummy. Additionally, readers who enjoy mythology based stories like the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan would find elements of this book appealing.

-Haley Shaw

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 27, 2024
Release Date: September 26, 2023
Release Date: November 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.

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

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: I Loved You in Another Life by David Arnold

  • I Loved You In Another Life
  • by David Arnold
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
  • Release date: 10/10, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593524787

Evan Taft is planning a gap year in Alaska but is second guessing the decision after his mother’s cancer diagnosis. As those plans fade, he hears a mysterious singer’s voice. Shosh Bell, a theater star with shattered dreams and a dead sister, hears the same song. In different time periods and across continents, a song and celestial bird connects these strangers again and again. 

Arnold has crafted a novel that is incredibly vulnerable, poignant, and familiar. He not only captures the feelings of Evan and Shosh, but peripheral characters are fully developed. Everyone is entirely real with just the right amount of quirk and weird. 

This book is perfect for teen readers who love a quirky story and good romance, but want something different and deeper. I Loved You In Another Life is cinematic and melancholy with a touch of magical realism   Give this book to readers who enjoyed David Levithan‘s Every Day and are fans of authors like Nina LaCour and Jeff Zentne

– Alicia Kalan

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: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

  • What the River Knows
  • by Isabel Ibañez
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release date: 10/31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250803375

Inez, an Argentinian society young woman, heads to Egypt to find out what happened to her missing (presumed dead) parents, who were on an archeological dig. Her uncle, now her guardian, is a secretive man who appears to be selling Egyptian artifacts–in other words a tomb robber–assisted by an English military deserter who goes by the moniker, “Whit.” When Inez dares to defy societal convention and her uncle by boarding a ship to Egypt to conduct her own search for her parents, she encounters scoundrels, thieves, and murderers who are willing to do anything to get their hands on Cleopatra’s wealth and are happy to sacrifice Inez and all she holds dear to acquire it.

This compelling enemies to lovers trope takes place against a very evocative 1880’s Egyptian backdrop. Chocolate éclairs consumed on linen couches in a hotel lobby next to fez-topped effendi, while tomb-robbing is discussed in clipped British tones is enough of a draw for adventure fans. When you add revolvers, secret doors, and missing/dead parents along with a touch of real, old magic, there is the basis of a solid story. 

This historical fantasy setting, with a little magic, and a lot of slow-burn romance will set historical fiction fans’ hearts aflutter.  This is a high-school themed version of The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan with more romance and less teaching of mythology.  For historical romance fans hand this to fans of Erin Beaty’s Traitor’s Kiss series, Mary Pearson’s Dance of Thieves series, or Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series. Fans who like the down and dirty reality of being on a trip without all the benefits of civilization, but with magical abilities informing the storyline, will also like Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger series.

-Michael Fleming

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

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: What Happens After Midnight by K.L. Walther

  • What Happens After Midnight
  • by K.L. Walther
  • Narrated by Tina Wolstencroft
  • Tantor Media, Inc. | Tantor Audio
  • Publication Date: June 27, 2023
  • ISBN: 9798350836394

Lily Hopper is happy to let her senior year of high school end in a boring whimper. However, Lily’s plans change when she gets a mysterious note recruiting her to help plan the school’s senior prank. Lily is excited until she learns the prank’s mastermind is her ex-boyfriend, Taggart. Lily broke up with Tag over a year ago, but never got over him. As Lily and Tag work together, secrets and old hurts resurface while romantic feelings return. 

What Happens After Midnight is a fun rom-com of high school hijinks. The story is equal parts romance and thoughtful exploration of the emotions that surround leaving the familiarity of high school and progressing to the unknown of college. The parallel storylines of the senior year prank and the remembrance of Lily and Tag’s relationship allow the book to straddle the genres of romance and realistic fiction to widen its teen appeal. The book’s fast-paced story of mishaps during the night while they try to pull off the “perfect prank” will appeal to reluctant readers. 

Wolstencroft narration perfectly brings to life the fun overnight escapade of the prank while beautifully expressing Lily’s feelings of loss and confusion. The narrator takes the listener on an emotional roller coaster ride of Lily’s uncertainty of the future, exhilaration of the adventure, and the possibility of romance. Fans of Lynn Painter’s Better Than the Movies and Rachel Lynn Solomon‘s Today, Tonight, Tomorrow will enjoy this page-turner of a rom-com.

–Rebecca Baldwin

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: August 29, 2023
Release Date: June 6, 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.