Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: SWARN by Jennifer D. Lyle

  • SWARM by Jennifer D. Lyle
  • Narrated by Krystal Hammond
  • Blackstone Publishing
  • Release date: November 7, 2023
  • ASIN: B0CCSVDLPP
  • ISBN: 978-1728270913

A super intense story of survival. 

Thanks to climate change the world has warmed and a swarm which has laid dormant for centuries has resurfaced and they are hungry! 

This plot driven story begins as an average school day for 16 year old Shur and her classmates, until she notices an unusually large butterfly outside of her classroom window. Soon after her discovery, cell phones begin buzzing with a flood of emergency reports that these butterfly-like monsters have invaded all 7 continents and people should stay indoors or shelter in place.

As the confusion and tension mounts, Shur, her twin brother Keene, and their 2 best friends, Jennifer and Nathan, flee the high school parking lot in an attempt to make it to their respective homes, but first they must pick up Shur’s brother Sean, aka “Little” from daycare. Terrified, they finally make it to Shur’s suburban home unscathed, only to find this will be their last stop. The Swarm is rapidly increasing and the teens must hole up alone and are forced to fend for themselves.  Shur, the protagonist, is riddled with extreme anxiety and panicked thoughts resulting from the death of her father a few years earlier. What the teens don’t  know is that the butterflies are only the beginning; the next onslaught will be deadlier, and even closer to home.

Krystal Hammond’s narration captures all the fear, anxiety and resolve of each character’s voice. Shur’s coping skills are strained to the max, and yet she is not as fragile as the others think. Hammond’s believable performance conveys Shur’s inner thoughts showcasing her unique perspective on how to navigate this apocalyptic setting to keep them all safe. The angst-filled narration propels the plot forward causing listeners to anticipate what could possibly happen next and to wonder if the world could actually survive such a swarm.

Jennifer D. Lyle has written a vivid portrayal of terror made all the more exhilarating by Krystal Hammond’s narration. Part apocalyptic science-fiction, part horror survival story with a sprinkle of teen crush, makes SWARM an audiobook with a little something for everyone.

Recommend for ages 13 & up.

-Ellen E. McTyre

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: Sky’s End by Marc J. Gregson

  • Sky’s End
  • by Marc J. Gregson
  • Publisher: Peachtree Teen
  • Release date: January 2, 2024
  • ISBN: 9781682635766

Conrad’s family once ruled their floating island, before his uncle murdered his father. Now destitute and eager to reunite with his sister who is a ward of their uncle, he trains to be a hunter. The deadliest of the Trades, hunters defend the islands from gargantuans. Conrad and his fellow trainees must compete in the gauntlet, a competition to see who can kill the most gargantuans. It is a battle filled with treachery, mutiny, and hidden alliances.

Conrad’s ragtag crew is fun to cheer for both in the gauntlet and their character growth. The battles come quickly with plenty of action for fans of adventure stories. The political upheaval provides a growing sense of unease while the game continues to unfold. 

The breakneck speed of this book will appeal to teens who like science fiction with a lot of action and little downtime. Fans of political drama will find plenty in Sky’s End. Similar titles are Sevenfold Hunters by Rose Egal and Skyward by Brandon Sanderson.

-Cathy DeCampli

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

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