Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Miles Morales: Suspended by Jason Reynolds

  • Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-Man Novel
  • by Jason Reynolds
  • Narrated by Guy Lockard and Nile Bullock
  • Simon and Schuster Audio
  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781797145600

Miles must serve a day of in-school suspension as a result of the events in the previous book, where he took down The Wardens and pushed back against his racist history teacher. It seems that his spidey sense is on the fritz again, but Miles is having trouble dodging his detention teacher and figuring out what is happening. Using his powers and sleuthing, Miles determines that super termites have begun attacking the school, specifically the history books with black and brown histories. While these evil termites must be stopped, Miles is going to need to find a way to do that without extending his suspension.

Yet again, Jason Reynolds’s mastery elevates this superhero storyline and plays with the setting by reducing the timeline of events to one day. Narrators Lockard and Bullock expertly match Reynolds’s prowess by providing a layered audio reading of this story. The audible “bzzzs” and “whams” add to the superhero world and Miles’s voice shows how this story matters even beyond the Spiderverse. Even if bugs make you squeamish, this audiobook has so much more to offer. Both fans of superhero comics and Jason Reynolds’s other works will find something awesome in this title.

-Sarah Carpenter

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 Q by Amy Tintera

  • The Q
  • by Amy Tintera
  • Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House
  • Release date: November 8, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780593486177

The son of a candidate for President of the USA, Lennon,  is kidnapped and dropped inside the infamous Q, an area that used to be Austin, but is now enclosed by a wall and all occupants contained inside are plagued with a virus that attacks internal organs.

When Lennon lands via parachute into the Q, he is nervous for what will happen to him inside this unknown walled compound. For those inside, like Maisie, born inside the Q, why has this person been dropped into their protected environment and what does this mean for their safety? What follows is an escape adventure through gang-run territories, murderous mechanical birds, bomb-dropping drones, and major fight scenes. 

Readers who enjoy survival, rival gangs and family legacy stories will quickly absorb this story. Highly recommended for fans of Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson and The Getaway by Lamar Giles

-Jessica Lorentz Smith

Other Nominated Titles

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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Space Trash by Jenn Woodall

  • Space Trash, vol. 1
  • by Jenn Woodall
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Publication Date: September 20, 2022
  • ISBN-13: 9781637150405

Circa 2115: Earth has been forcibly evacuated, and a reform school for wayward female-assigned humans is isolated on the moon. Students are educated and monitored by corporate robots with support from the stoolies of the student council, and they’re expected to dedicate their lives to Planet X. Co. Enter protagonists Stab, Yuki, and Una—friends who’ll tough it out through any amount of struggle even if they can’t agree on a good gang name. When that struggle takes the shape of a rival gang raiding their lockers (snack-theft! Precious Yuri manga-napping!), the ensuing confrontation leaves them with more questions than answers about what they have to accept and what they might be able to change.

Volume one of Space Trash offers a large amount of humor for such a vividly-depicted grim reality. The graffiti on every wall tells a story about the students’ discontent with a world that has clearly thrown them away, while the Earth memorabilia on the dorm walls anchors the friends in affinity with rebellions of eras past, and the Planet X Co. propaganda in the midst of it all gives things an especially creepy kick. Woodall’s use of saturated color schemes brings the feelings of these teens to the forefront, making it easy to stay with and root for these friends as they push all the limits.

Please hand this book to fans of dystopia, rock music, and general rebellion. It reads like Bitch Planet for a younger audience, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed the School for Extraterrestrial Girls, The Memory Librarian, and Paper Girls. Fans of sweet, queer-centered ruckus are also sure to enjoy it!

-M’issa Fleming

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8, 2022
Release Date: February 14, 2023
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Release Date: March 16, 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 Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: The Do-Over by Lynn Painter

  • The Do-Over
  • by Lynn Painter
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
  • Imprint: Simon Pulse
  • Release Date: November 15, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781534478862

Emilie is excited for Valentine’s Day because she plans to tell her boyfriend that she loves him for the first time. The chance never comes, though, because of bad news happening at every turn. Then, Emilie wakes up the next day only to find out that she must relive Valentine’s Day over and over, including learning her bad news again. Literally colliding with her lab partner Nick pushes the two closer and closer, although he has his own burdens to come to terms with. Together, they realize that messiness is inevitable, and nobody can defy fate.

This title is a good candidate for QPRR because it is fast paced, funny, and blends three different genres: contemporary realistic fiction, science fiction, and romance. Painter does an excellent job at portraying how stressful high school is while trying to balance academic obligations, familial obligations, and friend obligations, and feeling like you can never get it all right. Reading about characters who earn high grades, yet still battle their own demons, is helpful for someone who may feel as though school is not the right place for them.

The teen reader who would most appreciate this title is someone who needs the reminder that just because our peers may seem to have their lives together, what is apparent on the surface is not always what it seems. Everyone has their own struggle, regardless of how they look on paper. Additionally, the story is an excellent example that teens should never force a relationship with someone just for the visual that they are in a relationship. Our own happiness is more important than trying to fit with anyone else’s personality. Similar titles to read include The Here and Now (2014) by Ann Brashares, Pretty in Punxsutawney (2019) by Laurie Boyle Compton and The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan (2016)

-Emma K. McNamara

Release Date: September 27, 2022
Release Date: February 28, 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.

What Would a Jedi Read? Reader’s Advisory for Star Wars Characters

Our favorite Star Wars characters need good book recommendations too! Yet, could you figure out a book picks for popular Star Wars characters off the top of your head? The latest and (apparently) final entry into the Skywalker saga within the Star Wars universe is just around the corner. It is always important to reflect on popular culture in the library. Such a large percentage of our collections embrace the idea of pop culture. Also, aspects of the fandoms can be great touchstones for reader’s advisory. If the teen you are trying to help doesn’t know how to explain their needs or desires in a book, asking for the name of their favorite Star Wars character could be the “in” that you need.

Continue reading What Would a Jedi Read? Reader’s Advisory for Star Wars Characters

#QP2018 Nominees: Science Fiction

Science fiction is the perfect place to find imaginative and inventive hooks. In this post, we feature four science fiction stories with fabulous hooks.

Exo by Fonda Lee is a story of life on an alien occupied earth, and ponders the question of whether it is better to cooperate or rebel.

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs features a terrifying premise where two protagonists are killed every two years, only to be resurrected the next day with no memory of their demise.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman imagines a future where technology has advanced to the point that nobody dies anymore. The creation of Scythes, humans whose role is to kill other humans, is the only way to ensure the world isn’t overpopulated.

What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy balances a science fiction premise, protecting the Earth from a possible alien invasion, with a healthy injection of humor.

Landscape With Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson delivers a science fiction tale chock-full of fascinating ideas in a short, digestible package that will appeal to reluctant readers.

These five books feature captivating hooks, engaging writing, and well drawn characters that will tempt many reluctant readers.

Exo by Fonda Lee
Scholastic Press
January 31, 2017
9780545933438

What if the earth were a colony, a useful military outpost? What if humans were the “indigenous” species–their intelligence the only quality that kept them from being completely overrun by a superior alien race that benevolently talked down to them?

Welcome to the new earth. Under the new political order, the alien race of zhree have created a feudal-like system in which they incorporate humans into their protective clans. Donovan Reyes,  son of the new Prime Liaison between the humans and the zhree, is a valuable political pawn. His father selected him to undergo the “hardening” process, a process that provides him with an exoskeleton similar to that of the zhree race.  The exoskeleton is critical in his role as a peace keeper between humans and zhree, but it can’t protect him when he is kidnapped by the terrorist organization, Sapience. The hits just keep on coming when he realizes that the terrorist are being led by someone who causes him to question everything his father and the zhree have created. Continue reading #QP2018 Nominees: Science Fiction

Teens in Outer Space

In February, NASA scientist discover seven Earth like planets out in space.  Although these planets are 40 light years or hundreds of thousands of years away, that doesn’t stop us from wondering if there’s other life out there.  Luckily, there are authors who have wondered the same thing and you can check out their space stories below.

Nemesis is a diabolic-a killing machine.  When her master and friend is summoned to become a hostage for political gains, Nemesis protects her the only way she knows how-she must become her.

Akos, son of an oracle, lives on the farthest planet from the son-Thuvhe. His life along with many others is fated yet, he doesn’t know his fate until all the fates are announced space-wide. Now that all the fates have been revealed, all the fated including Akos and his family are in danger.  Cyra is the youngest daughter of the Shotet’s elite family. The Shotets live on Thuvhe but are at war with Akos’ people. Cyra’s family will stop at nothing to rule their planet including kidnapping and killing to change their fates. Continue reading Teens in Outer Space

Booklist: Steampunk Reads for Teens

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that is usually set in the late 19th or early 20th century. It’s notable for a unique aesthetic featuring clockwork and steam-powered technology. As it has gained popularity, steampunk has begun to include themes ranging from alternate history to time travel and can be set in the near past, the distant future and anywhere in between.

If you want to learn more about steampunk as a genre you can check out the Hub’s steampunk genre guide written up by Colleen Seisser. Carli Spina has you covered if you’re looking for some steampunk comics by female authors. If you’re still not sure where to start, read on for more recommendations.

steampunkgears

If You Want Adventure:

steampunkadventure

  1. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): When fourteen-year-old Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality she soon discovers that deceit and espionage part of the curriculum along with etiquette and dancing.
  2. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff: Sent to capture an arashitora for the Shogun, Yukiko soon finds herself stranded in the wilderness with the creature. This unlikely pair will have to set aside their differences and work together when Yukiko hears of the Shoguns injustices from a secretive man named Kin and the rebel Kage cabal.
  3. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2005 Printz Award Honor): Cabin boy Matt and heiress Kate travel the skies via airship searching for elusive winged creatures rumored to live in the clouds.
  4. Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler: Wren McAvoy works as a coal miner in a domed city. After two hundred years, everyone takes life in the dome for granted. The only problem is that the coal is running out. When a friend escapes the dome he is used as a gruesome warning for those who try to challenge the established society. But his last words to Wren–“The sky is blue.”–will set Wren on a path that could change everything.
  5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (2010 Best Books for Young Adults, 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Alek–heir to the clanker Austro-Hungarian Empire–and Deryn–a girl disguising herself as a boy to serve as a Darwinist airman–have to form an uneasy alliance if they hope to stave off the coming World War which begs the question: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them?

Continue reading Booklist: Steampunk Reads for Teens

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.

 

Booklist: Time Travel Reads for Teens

Time travel has been a popular subject of fiction since The Time Machine by H.G. Wells was published in 1895. Over a century later, it still captures the imagination of many readers. The mix of philosophy and theoretical physics allows for endless combinations to explore parallel universes, to go back and forward in time, and is an especially great backdrop for both adventure and star-crossed love.

There is no shortage of time travel stories in young adult fiction. With so many great time travel novels coming out this year, it’s a great time to some time bending novels to your “to read” list. You won’t even need to build a time machine to read most of these right now!

If you like your time travel with a time-crossed romance

time travel - until we meet again - ruby red - the love that split the world

Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

Cassandra’s summer takes a strange turn when she meets a stranger who claims her family’s beach house belongs to him and that the year is 1925. As Cassandra tries to solve the mystery of Lawrence’s appearance she will also have to try to find a way to change history if the two hope to have any kind of future together.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth Shepherd’s cousin has been preparing to time travel for her entire life. Until both girls find out that it’s Gwyneth, not Charlotte, who carries the rare time travel gene.

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

Something strange is happening in Natalie’s hometown. Little things at first like her front door being green instead of red. Then a strange apparition Natalie calls “Grandmother” appears and tells he she has three months to save a boy she hasn’t met yet.

time travel - return once more - into the dim - timeless

Return Once More by Trisha Leigh

Kaia is an apprentice with The Historians–a group of time travelers who observe and record history. Kaia doesn’t see the harm in catching a glimpse of her long-dead soulmate in Ancient Egypt but that one search sets off a series of events that will leave Kaia scrambling to save her future.

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

After her parents’ death Michele is sent across the country to live with her grandparents in New York and finds a diary that transports her to 1910 where she meets a blue-eyed stranger who has haunted her dreams for as long as she can remember.

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Hope will have to learn how to conquer her fears before she can try to work with a group of time travelers to save her mother who is trapped in 12th Century England.

If you you want high stakes adventures across time

passenger - a thousand pieces of you - the glass sentence

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Traveling across centuries and around the world, Etta and Nicholas will have to trust each other as they hunt down a long-lost artifact and uncover a truth that could threaten their natural times and everything in between.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Determined to get revenge for her father’s murder and the theft of his universe-crossing device, Marguerite embarks on a multi-universal hunt for Paul. The closer Marguerite gets to Paul, the more she begins to wonder if he really is the villain she thought.

The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove

Nearly a century ago the Great Disruption remade the world and threw all of the continents into different Ages. When her renowned mapmaker uncle is kidnapped, Sophia Tims will have to travel across Ages to rescue him. Continue reading Booklist: Time Travel Reads for Teens