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The Monday Poll: 2015 YA Book-to-Movie Picks

Sun, 02/15/2015 - 23:25

Good morning, Hub readers!

Did you have a fun Valentine’s Day? Our poll last week was all about declarations of love in YA lit, and we asked you to choose your favorite. The top pick by far, with 54% of the vote, was from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, a quote from Augustus to Hazel: “Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we want to know which YA book you’re most looking forward to seeing adapted for the big screen. Choose from the options below, or add your own suggestion in the comments!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-in #1

Sun, 02/15/2015 - 07:00

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since February 9 counts, so sign up now!

It’s time for the first weekly check-in of the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge and I’m knee deep in Morris Award Winner Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, which I finally managed to get my hands on.  The long hold list for this book at my library was one of the things that kept me from finishing the earlier Morris/Nonfiction Challenge and I’m hoping to do better with this one.  I’m a little worried because I’ve actually read quite a few of the eligible titles this year–more than usual for me anyway–but I guess that just means I’m going to have to pick up some titles well off my radar and outside my comfort zone.  Which is perfect.

One of the best parts of the Reading Challenge, for me, is the social aspect.  I love hearing what everyone thinks of the titles that were named winners or honors, Best of the Bests, and Top Tens this year.  If you’re sharing your thoughts on social media, be sure to include the hashtag #hubchallenge.  You can also join the conversation over at the 2015 Goodreads Hub Reading Challenge group–if this year is anything like last year, that place is sure to be hopping in no time.

Remember, eligible titles read or listened to within the challenge time period count towards your total, with the exception of titles read for the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge; whether or not you finished that challenge, you can count those books toward your 25 Reading Challenge titles.  I don’t know about you, but that puts me at six titles down, 19 to go, and that feels pretty great.

You have until 11:59 PM EST on June 21st to finish all 25 books which is plenty of time, right?  Keep track of your progress by commenting on the weekly check-in posts to let us know how you’re doing and what you’re reading and/or listening to; if you’ve reviewed those titles somewhere online, please include links to your reviews! Don’t forget to grab the Participant’s Badge for your blog, website, or email signature, and, as always, if you have any questions or problems, let us know in the comments or via email.


If you are a particularly fast reader and have already completed the challenge by reading or listening to 25 titles from the list of eligible books, be sure to fill out the form below so we can send you your Challenge Finisher badge, get in touch to coordinate your reader’s response and, perhaps best of all, to notify you if you win our exciting grand prize drawing! Be sure to use an email you check frequently and do not fill out this form until you have completed the challenge by reading 25 titles.


ALA Midwinter 2015: Best Fiction for Young Adults Feedback Session Recap

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 07:00

On Saturday, January 31, I had the privilege to not only attend the “Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA)” feedback session, I also was able to bring four of my local library teens to participate in the session.  Here is a picture of the five of us after the session posing with all of our swag bags.  My four teens joined up with other teen readers to comprise a group of 60, all ready to do what teens do best: share their opinions.

Just a little background, if you are unfamiliar with the BFYA list: throughout the year, librarians add books published that year to a nomination list.  From this nomination list, a committee reads the titles and ultimately whittles the list down to a BFYA Top Ten list.  In order to ensure that the best books make the Top Ten list, the committee holds a feedback session in which teens can share why they think a book should or should not be on the list.  The teens lined up at microphones that faced the committee members rather than the large crowd of librarians and teachers who stopped in to get the firsthand knowledge presented by the teens.  Each teen had no more than 90 seconds to prove their point and were allowed to write up their reviews ahead of time.  Unfortunately, due to the length of the nomination list, not every title was reviewed by the teens during the session.

Before I begin to share the details of the session, here is the BFYA Top Ten list:

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jackaby by William Ritter

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston

Vango by Timothee de Fombelle

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

There was one phrase that was constantly heard throughout the BFYA session.  That phrase was, “I completely disagree.”  Whether the next person was praising or poo-pooing the title, it was obvious that there were mixed feelings about the books.  The Crossover was not read by many teens, but the teens that did read it were not used to sports books and felt that they were not the right audience to read the book.  The Crossover definitely has an audience as it was not only on this Top Ten list, it was also the winner of the 2015 Newbery Award.  Vango was not read by many teens, but the teen who did review it spoke very highly of the book.  In fact, she opened her review saying that Vango is “magic.”  Unfortunately teens did not review the following books: The Carnival at Bray (2015 Printz Honor and 2015 Morris Honor), The Gospel of Winter, I’ll Give You the Sun  (2015 Printz Winner), JackabyNoggin, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim (2015 Morris Honor), We Were Liars and The Young Elites.

There were two books that received positive reviews from all of their teen reviewers.  The first book was Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira.  Teens said that it felt different from other books.  They also said the author used word that teens would use and they understood the references.  Another book that received unanimous praise from the teens who all thought it should be on the list was Girls Like Us by Gail Giles.  The teens thought it had good pacing and was accurate to real life.  Girls Like Us  didn’t make it on the BFYA list, but it did win the Schneider Family Book award which celebrates books that focus on the experiences of characters with disabilities.  While both of these books did not make it on the Top Ten list, they were very well-received by the teens.

Here are some other comments about some of the other books the teens reviewed:

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout – There were several positive reviews regarding this book.  Some said it was just like watching a movie.  There were negative comments as well such as the book was unrelatable and it moved at a slow pace.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman – Some thought it shouldn’t be on the list because it included cliches while others thought this was an interesting history lesson.

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown – One teen said it is the best portrayal of teen life and was gut-wrenching in its storytelling while another lost interest and didn’t finish it.

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson – This book received a lot of positive feedback.   In fact, one of the teens grew up in the Middle East and said it was very accurate.

Season of the Witch by Mariah Fredericks – The teens liked the mixture of reality and supernatural and viewed this book as an underdog.

Fake ID by Lamar Giles – While one teen couldn’t  put the book down, another thought the author kept adding too much to the story and it was difficult to follow.

The Walled City  by Ryan Graudin – One teen referred to The Walled City as a “Chinese Godfather.”

The opinions are not limited merely to what I conveyed above.  The teens did a terrific job of sharing their thoughts about books and showed that it is almost impossible to get everyone to agree.  It just goes to show that the best way to determine whether or not a book is good is just to read it yourself.

-Brandi Smits, currently reading Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson & Crown at Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Tweets of the Week: Feb 14th

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 07:00

This week was busy with talk of romance books, valentines, and book lists announced. Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend with a great book. Here are some tweets from the week you might have missed.


Book News:

  •  ·  w/ We’re organized now! There’s a project outline. Have posts/guests scheduled. Resource hub soon!


TV/Movie News:



Just for Fun: 

~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Some Recent YA Contemporary Romances

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 07:00

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, here are some recent romances that I loved. I hope you enjoy them too. What I love about these books is that they’re not just about romance, they’re so much more. They talk about guilt, death, dreams, business plans, friendship, loyalty, family, photography, running, fitting in, being in the spotlight, and learning about yourself.

Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
When Lainey’s boyfriend of two years breaks up with her, she’s devastated. She’s determined to win him back. Lainey and her BFF pour over the  Art of War looking for a battle plan. Lainey and her co-worker agree to fake-date each other to woo back their exes with jealousy.  As the summer progresses, she learns a little more about herself and who she wants to be.

Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen
Shana’s officially on a boy moratorium since the last one broke her heart. She’s hoping to create one last picture for her photography portfolio when she meets Quattro.  She keeps seeing him wherever she goes – including her family’s trip to Machu Picchu. Could the universe be trying to tell her something?

Breathe Annie Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Annie’s ex-boyfriend died while in the middle of training for a marathon. Annie’s consumed with guilt since they hung out the night he died. She decides to train for the marathon – running in his honor.  Annie hires a trainer; Matt has all sorts of helpful hints besides just a running plan. But even he can’t get rid of the guilt or her stomach problems. Matt’s brother runs with them occasionally and he makes Annie feel, something she hasn’t been able to do since Kyle’s death. 

Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder
Lauren’s new to town, she just moved in with her aunt, uncle, and two cousins. Lauren’s trying to put her past behind her and move on, but she can’t move on if she can’t find a place to call home. Colby lives in the same small town, but has visions of escaping.  He doesn’t want to be known for his football skills. In fact, he doesn’t even want to play football in college. In a football loving town, how can he share that secret with anyone? Can the two of them figure out a way to belong?

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Holly’s grandfather dies and leaves his wedding chapel to her in his will. Holly’s happy until she learns the chapel’s in serious financial trouble.  Holly must make some hard choices – offering services that her grandfather refused in hopes of getting out from under debt and keeping the chapel in the family. On top of that, she’s fallen for the grandson of her family’s worst enemy.  Dax is amazing and perfect for Holly. She knows she can’t keep their relationship a secret. She’s terrified to lose anything else, but can she really juggle everything?

I‘ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Skylar can’t wait to leave her hometown behind and spread her wings in the fall when she goes off to art school and escape small town life. When her mother looses her job, Skylar can’t break through the walls of depression.  With her home life in tatters, the only person who can take her mind off her troubles is Josh – a marine veteran who just returned home after losing his leg. Together they attempt to weather the ups and downs of their small town.

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Prom season’s coming up and the boys are starting to get creative with promposals. Marijke can’t wait to see how her boyfriend will ask her. He’s not getting her hints. To make matters worse, they have a huge fight. Lily’s views on romance have soured after watching her mother’s bad boyfriends, plus the guy Lily’s crushing over doesn’t know she’s alive. One night, the two girls find themselves unhappy and watching Titanic in a movie theater. They end up ditching the movie and going for coffee where they talk for the first time, confiding in each other. A plan is born – one worthy of Hollywood, where they reenact movie scenes to help them achieve their dreams.

Love, Lucy by April Linder
Lucy made a bargain with father; she’ll major in business instead of theater. For her sacrifice, she will be allowed to spend her summer before college touring Europe.  On the second to last stop in Florence, Lucy meets a boy. Before long, she’s spending her time with Jesse. After a vacation romance, Lucy returns home and back to reality but she’s not ready to give up on her dreams.

Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
Emma’s grown up on TV – through the awkward situations, including her first kiss. She’s made some bad boyfriend choices in the past and now that she’s about to star in a new teen drama, she’s sworn off dating co-stars. That was before she met Jake. The model turned actor who’s off limits and not just because of her past. Her BFF adores him (or at least the him on paper). The more Emma hangs out with Jake, the more she falls for him. Can she risk  both her friendship and her heart on another co-star?

Wildflower by Alicia Whitaker
Bird’s family plays country music on the road. One night her father can’t speak, so he asks Bird to fill in for him. At first, she’s really nervous but soon she’s shinning in the spotlight. In the audience is a man from one of the biggest recording labels. He wants a meeting with her dad. When her dad gets back, the family has a meeting of their own to share the news. The label doesn’t want the family – just Bird. Bird’s really excited for the opportunity, but she has to think about the business side of the deal. Could she achieve her dreams and become a star?

~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg

Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 07:00

Adults reading young adult  books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it!  YA  has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.)  Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.

Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions?  Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance.   There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books.  Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works)  can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.

Horror/Serial Killers

James Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero.  Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.

Stephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner) and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner) Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!

Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Edgar Allen Poe fans can’t help but enjoy Bethany Griffin’s The Fall and Masque of the Red Death couplet. These atmospheric tales were inspired by Poe’s short stories.   It’s also a refreshing change of pace to find quality literary horror featuring strong female characters.


Danielle Steel fans fans will fall in love with David Levithan’s   Boy Meets Boy (2004 Best Book for Young Adult Top Ten , 2006 Popular Paperback for Young Adults, 2004 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.)  Levithan has also done some fun collaborations: with Rachel Cohn in the form of he said/she said alternating chapter romances in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2007 Quick Pick Top Ten, 2007 Best Book for Young Adults) and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (2011 Best Book for Young Adults), and with John Green in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.   For a really unique think-piece on identity, gender, and attraction check out Every Day.

Susan Wiggs fans may want to go steady with Sara Farizen’s two YA romance novels. In  If You Could Be Mine two girls in Iran grapple with gender identity and love. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel explores an inter-racial relationship between two girls at a private high school.

Debbie Macomber lovers will fall for Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (2014 Printz Honor , 2014 Teens Top Ten, 2014 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers ,2014Best Fiction for Young Adults).  Rowell is unconventional and never boring as she fearlessly tackles topics such as inter-racial relationships, class, abuse, and eighties pop music all framed in a swoon-worthly tale of first love.

Nicolas Sparks fans will want to have an affair with Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2013 Printz Honor Book.) Two boys from different backgrounds come of age in the Southwest and fall in love against the odds.  Unique parent/teen relationships also make this one stand out from the crowd.  Identity, sexual orientation, culture, and religion are also seamlessly interwoven to make this sweet romance.


In addition to simply exploring known genres within the realm of YA, you could recommend folks take it a step further by reading about characters from different racial and/or religious backgrounds, are LGBTQ, live somewhere unfamiliar, or are differently-abled.  I tried to touch on some of these elements in my recommendations, and there are a ton more out there.  It has become clear that in YA and everywhere, we need diverse books.

Have you anything to add to these genre read-alikes?

— Tara Kehoe, currently reading The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.


Jukebooks: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 07:00

Skylar is sooo ready to leave her tiny home town of Creek View and start college in San Francisco. All that lies between her and her dream is the three months of summer. Skylar doesn’t calculate that three months is more than enough to shake her determination to leave Creek View. It begins when Skylar’s mother is fired from her crummy job at Taco Bell, and doesn’t seem interested in finding a new one. Then there’s Josh Mitchell, a Marine who has just returned home to Creek View after being gravely injured in Afghanistan. Why can’t Skylar stop thinking about him? As they work together at the funky Paradise Motel, they seem to be moving towards friendship and maybe more.

The novel is full of songs, but the one that strikes most deeply is “Hotel California.” A hippie couple is playing it in one of the motel rooms as Josh and Skylar dance together in the pouring rain. Josh sings along during the lines:

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.

The song was written and recorded by the Eagles in 1977. Don Henley’s voice is wistful and weary as he describes a place that pulls you in until it’s impossible to leave. It won the Grammy Record of the Year award in 1977. The recording also includes a wicked guitar fest featuring Don Fender (12 string) and Joe Walsh (awesome) at the end of the vocals.

-Diane Colson, currently reading Lock In by John Scalzi.

Schneider Family Book Award Winner: Girls Like Us

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 07:00

Last week at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced. This list includes a wide range of types of media, ranging from the Andrew Carnegie Medal for “outstanding video productions for children” to the Alex Awards for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” You can find the full list of YA Awards in The Hub’s earlier post, but today I want to take a look at one specific award, the Schneider Family Book Award. This award “honor[s] an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” Up to three awards are given each year: one for a children’s book, one for a middle grade book, and one for a young adult book. This year, Girls Like Us by Gail Giles won the teen book award.

Girls Like Us is told from two perspectives, interweaving the stories of two teens on the verge of graduating from their high school’s special education program. The book opens from Biddy’s perspective. Biddy can’t read or write and she knows she has “moderate retardation” because she didn’t get enough oxygen at birth. Though she is generally sweet natured, her past has left her guarded and afraid around many strangers. She has always lived with her grandmother, but now that she is graduating from high school, her grandmother, who has only ever tolerated her while calling her cruel names, won’t let her stay any more. Chapter two is told from the point of view of Quincy, who is in special education due to a brain injury she sustained when her mother’s boyfriend hit her over the head with a brick. In addition to her brain injury, her face is also “dented” from this attack. This combined with her subsequent years spent bouncing between foster families and the racism she has faced due to her multi-racial heritage, has left Quincy angry and ready to be mean first before people can be mean to her. She is less than pleased when she learns that she and Biddy will be living together in an apartment owned by the former mayor’s wife, Elizabeth, and helping to care for the woman.

Giles manages to fully realize the different perspectives and voices of these two characters without seeming as though she is condescending to them. She never minimizes the problems that they encounter in life, but she clearly makes the point that the problems they face due to their disabilities are dwarfed by the problems that come from the way other people have treated them throughout their whole life. Biddy and Quincy both have skills, hopes, and desires, but they are often underestimated due to their status as “Speddies” or special education students. When the book opens, one of the few things that both Biddy and Quincy agree on is that no one can care about girls like them. Though for different reasons, they both expect to be treated as worthless and have internalized this feeling in many ways. Both grow over the course of the book, but Giles avoids a storybook tale where their lives magically improve once they go to live with Elizabeth. Biddy continues to confront the fallout of her traumatic past and Quincy faces a similar trauma of her own. This is one of the ways that the girls grow closer, but as Giles slowly reveals the details of both of these traumas, she never suggests that they have been forces for personal growth. Rather she shows the strength that Biddy and Quincy have built over the course of their lives and continue to cultivate as they become more independent and simultaneously become friends and even family. Girls Like Us is a book that will stay with you long after you have finished it and might just change the way you see the world.

If this book leaves you interested in reading more Schneider Family Book Award Winners, you can find the full list on the ALA website or read Hub posts on past winners.

– Carli Spina, currently reading We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

2015 Amazing Audiobooks Top Ten Listen-a-Likes

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 07:00

Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden

This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list!  After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best.  If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here.  It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.

We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.

2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten

  • ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.

The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive.  Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham: For those listeners who are looking for another title narrated by Fiona Hardingham that is packed with action and adventure and that has a strong female main character. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2012,  2012 Odyssey Honor  Audiobook)

  • Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick.  Hachette Audio, 2013.  9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.

In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands.  Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.


The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures.  Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)


  • Define Normal by Julie Anne Peters, read by Christine Lakin.  Hachette, 2014.  5 hours, 30 minutes; digital download. 978-1-4789-8080-3.

After being assigned as a peer counselor to pierced, black lipstick-wearing Jasmine, the last thing Antonia expects is to find a friend.  Lakin’s natural voicing and great pacing uplift this relevant and timeless novel.


The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, read by Daniel Passer: Both audiobooks tell the story about families whose mothers are not fit to take care of their children, both Lakin and Passer narrate with realistic teen voices and also bring a timelessness to both productions. (2008 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults)

  • Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach, read by Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2014. 5 hours, 49 minutes; 1 MP3 disc. 978-1-4805-3324-0.

Gabe wages war when vending machine money promised to the marching band is diverted to the cheerleading squad.  Funny, fast, and angst-filled narration by Podehl takes listeners on a wild ride as Gabe retells his story.


Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, read by Nick Podehl: Podehl shines at capturing the spirit of guys who are just trying to find themselves.  Both Gabe and Carter are trying to survive high school, and Podehl deftly uses his instinctive comedic timing to convey the awkwardness and revelations as both guys come of age in their respective stories. (2010 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

  • Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by a.s. king, read by Christine Lakin. Hachette Audio, 2014. 7 hours, 5 minutes; digital download. 978-1-4789-5774-4.

When Glory and her friend Ellie drink the remains of a desiccated bat, they find themselves able to see the future and the past, and Glory begins to reconsider her assumption that she’s destined to die young. Lakin’s nuanced narration explores Glory’s anger, grief, confusion, and hope.


The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston, read by Jessica Almasy: Glory and Loa, the main character in The Freak Observer, don’t know if they can trust their own minds. Lakin and Almasy draw listeners in with their exceptional range of emotions in these gut wrenching stories, as well as with their natural ability to portray someone whose mind is unravelling. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2013)

  • Half Bad by Sally Green, read by Carl Prekopp.  Recorded Books, 2014. 8 hours, 30 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-4906-1427-4.

Born an illegitimate son of a white witch mother and a black witch father, no one is sure which side Nathan will join, but both want him. Through Prekopp’s emotive performance, listeners are drawn into Nathan’s horrible torture and physical and emotional pain.


White Cat by Holly Black, read by Jesse Eisenberg: Half Bad and White Cat tell the tales of young men with supernatural abilities who are struggling with not only with choosing between allying with good or evil, but who are also trying to keep their “evil” tendencies in check. Prekopp delivers a tortured performance, and while Eisenberg is a bit more tame in comparison, both narrators deliver on the angst of the struggles of each character warring with good versus evil. (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

  • Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, read by Julia Whelan. Brilliance Audio, 2014. 8 hours, 30 minutes; 1 MP3 disc. 978-1-4805-6838-9.

While she grieves her sister’s death during her first year of high school, Laurel writes letters to famous dead people ranging from Kurt Cobain to Amelia Earhart. Whelan’s tender characterization of Laurel and her friends brings authenticity to this contemporary story of friendship, love, and loss.


Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going, read by Matthew Lillard: For listeners looking for another story of a teen turning to music to overcome debilitating depression.  While Lillard brings a more humorous tone to his narration, both productions highlight the struggles of depression while also bringing hope through the characters’ journeys. (2004 Selection Audiobooks for Young Adults)

  • Revolution by Deborah Wiles, read by Stacey Aswad and Francois Battiste with J.D. Jackson and Robin Miles. Listening Library, 2014. 12 hours, 10 minutes; 10 discs. 978-0-553-39526-6.

Twelve-year-old Sunny’s life changes forever when volunteers descend upon her Mississippi hometown in the summer of 1964, causing her to question her long-held beliefs and assumptions. A wide cast of narrators and accompanying effects create a powerful soundscape that will transport listeners to the Freedom Summer.


Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, read by Lisa Renee Pitts: Both titles cover the struggle of African Americans fighting for equality in the late fifties and early sixties.  Though Revolution employs a technique of using a soundscape of original songs, speeches, and other readings to convey the high emotions of this period, Pitts portrays Beals’ first hand account with a strong and stirring voice.

  • Skink–No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen, read by Kirby Heyborne. Listening Library, 2014. 7 hours, 50 minutes; 7 discs. 978-0-8041-6690-4.

When his cousin Malley runs off with a stranger, Richard and Skink, a one-eyed, eccentric ex-governor, must journey into the backwoods of Florida to save her. Heyborne narrates this audiobook flawlessly, coupling a wide range of character voices with an appropriate amount of intensity and humor.


Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman, read by Max Casella: While not completely similar stories, both Heyborne and Casella bring a tone of dark comedy to each production, which has a main character trying to protect his love interest from unusual threats. (2003 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults)

  • William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Collection by Ian Doescher, read by Danny Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, Jeff Gurner, January LaVoy, and Marc Thompson. Random House Audio, 2014. 10 hours, 30 minutes; 15 discs. 978-0-553-54640-8.

Join Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and more in this rich and unforgettable audio adventure, an adaptation of George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy that is told entirely in Shakespearean verse. This full-cast production will surprise and delight listeners with authentic music and sound effects, as well as passion and pathos aplenty.


The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf, read by Michael Page, Phil Gigante, Christopher Lane, Laural Merlington, and Angela Dawe: It’s definitely hard to find something that compares to Williams Shakespeare’s Star Wars Collection, but The Watch That Ends the Night is a great pick for listeners who are looking for another fantastic full cast production that also employs sound effects to uplift the story.

–Colleen Seisser, currently listening to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, read by Allan Corduner