What's Up in YA

📖 6 Rad YA Books By Black Male Authors

Hey YA Readers: Let’s highlight some awesome YA books by black male authors to kick off February.

“What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Audible.

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This month, “What’s Up in YA?” will highlight some amazing black YA authors, including an interview, book round-ups (including a look at some books by female-identifying authors hitting shelves in 2019), and more.

In light of a number of awesome books by black male-identifying YA authors hitting shelves this year, let’s talk about a few books by these writers to put on your TBR right now. Some of these are new releases while others are back list reads worth revisiting or picking up for the first time.

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

If you’re looking for a fantasy duology, Onyebuchi’s series — both titles available now — will be up your alley. The story is set in a walled city where corrupt mages can draw sins from sinners in the form of a beast. These beasts are lethal. But good mages exist here, too, and they use the power of sin-eaters to keep the beasts at bay. Taj, one of the most talented of these sin-eaters, finds himself smack in the middle of a dark conspiracy attempting to destroy the entire community.

A Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

What happens when a teen boy from French Canada is plopped deep into the heart of Austin, Texas? He tries to navigate the experience by keeping tabs on how the typical American teenager acts. This funny and awkward read is about a fish out of water and features a flawed and compelling main character.

The Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds (March 5)

If you’re itching for a book that flirts with genre, this is a winner. Jack and Kate meet at a party and soon they’re best friends, then maybe something more. Except…Kate dies. The story doesn’t end there though, as Jack is taken to the beginning of their relationship and is given the chance to prevent her death. A Groundhog Day style story with romance.

A Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson (April 2)

If you’re looking for queer-themed historical thriller, this book should absolutely be on your radar. Pitched as Aristotle and Dante meets Code Name Verity, the story follows two boys whose lives have been shattered by war and how far they’re willing to put them back together — and how much they’re willing to give up to be together. This one is at the top of my TBR and has gotten so much great buzz!

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

For readers wanting a Black Lives Matter story, Cole’s wildly underrated debut novel is one to pick up. The story follows Marvin as he unravels what happened to his twin brother Tyler following a party where Tyler’s gone missing.


Spin by Lamar Giles

When DJ Parsec is found dead, two of the key suspects are her best friend (they were on the outs) and one of her biggest fans. Neither are the killer, and the story unfolds as the two work together to find out what happened to the up-and-coming star. Compelling, character driven, and a mystery leaves readers guessing until the end.



Thanks for hanging out, y’all, and we’ll see you again later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Instagram and editor of (Don’t) Call Me Crazy and Here We Are.

Today In Books

Medieval Merlin Manuscript Found: Today In Books

This edition of Today in Books is sponsored by Bookclubbish.

Medieval Merlin Manuscript Found

The University of Bristol’s special collections librarian has discovered seven hand-written manuscript fragments from the middle ages about Merlin the magician. “The newly-discovered text has longer, more detailed descriptions of various characters particularly during battles.” Cool–anyone else suddenly want to go watch The Sword in the Stone?

The Ghost Bride Gets Adaptation Series!

Choo Yangsze’s The Ghost Bride is being adapted into a six-episode drama for Netflix. The story centers an ancient custom of a living woman marrying a dead man and is set in 1890s Colonial Malacca. If you’re going nope-nope, don’t worry she is too. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the production underway.

The Handmaid’s Tale Sequel Has A Cover

You can’t read Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which picks up 15 years after Offred’s final scene, until September but you can judge the book by the cover reveal now.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Feb 1

Hello and happy Friday and happy first day of February, wargs and woozles! Today we’ve got linky goodness from around the web including a Hugo Awards explainer, a Star Wars reading order, fan-art, and a review of the Folio Society edition of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, introduced by Nalo Hopkinson and illustrated by Francis Vallejo.

This newsletter is sponsored by DAW Books.

a young black woman gazes at the viewer through a series of overlapping sphere shapes of various colorsCollected for the first time in an omnibus edition, discover the Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning sci-fi trilogy that tells the story of Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. But after the jellyfish-like Medusae attack her spaceship, Binti must fend for herself, alone with the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace.

This week on SFF Yeah!, Sharifah and I got very excited about this year’s Hugo awards, and here’s a reminder that you can (and should) nominate and vote, plus a step-by-step tutorial on how!

If you too feel like you’ve been dumped into the wrong timeline, here are some parallel universe reads that might make you feel better. (Or worse? Or just the same; mileage, it varies!)

Looking for advice on where to start with the many recent Star Wars books? Kristina breaks it down for you!

SF/F by female authors is often mistakenly categorized as YA, and this piece has some thoughts on how and why it happens.

Baby, it’s cold outside … excuse me while I put every one of these superhero hoodies on my wishlist (but particularly that Cap. Marvel one, holy wow).

Winter is here, obviously, and we’ve got 50 Game of Thrones quotes to use around the fire (or in work emails or whatever).

This is such a simple fan-art concept, and yet this Meet Cute piece gave me feelings.

In today’s review, we’re gonna talk about Books as Art.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, with an introduction by Nalo Hopkinson, illustrated by Francis Vallejo

an image of the edition of Anansi Boys positioned upright, showing the spine and front cover. there's a multi-media, collaged illustration of anansi on the front cover.If you’re not familiar with the Folio Society, be prepared to drool. They do beautifully packaged and illustrated editions of classics, and have more modern titles alongside standbys like Alice in Wonderland and The Time Machine. One of their latest releases is an incredibly lush edition of Anansi Boys, and wowza.

Anansi Boys was actually the first book by Neil Gaiman that I ever read, probably close to 20 years ago now, and I’ve somehow never revisited it. My intention was just to read the new Hopkinson intro and then page through this Very Fancy, Oh God Must Not Get Food On It edition; I started reading and found myself five chapters in before I knew it. I hadn’t realized that Gaiman reached out to Hopkinson for help with the Caribbean dialogue and details when he was first writing it, and Hopkinson’s notes both on what that process was like and on ‘nancy stories’ are wonderful. And rediscovering Fat Charlie and Spider was a pleasure, especially since I did an American Gods reread not too long ago. I’ll definitely be finishing the book, and glorying in seeing the art unfold alongside the text this time around.

I say this time around, because absolutely the first thing I did upon receiving this book was to page through and find each and every one of Vallejo’s illustrations. There are the chapter splash pages, which tell their own spider story; full-color pages scattered throughout that are a glorious riot of color and style; and the black and white drawings that share space with text, grace notes bringing specific moments of plot to life. I love the range of texture and media Vallejo employs; his art feels just as exuberant, dynamic, and moody as the story itself. There’s a lovely video interview with him here — it’s very thoughtful, and also gets into the nitty gritty of how one specific illustrator approaches a task like this.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the price-tag is high; at $135, this isn’t a casual purchase for most readers. If you want an entirely new reading experience and a killer intro from Nalo Hopkinson, put it on your wishlist or in your birthday budget; you won’t regret it.

Bonus: Hopkinson is also part of the team writing new installments in the Sandman universe, which you should check out if you have not already!

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda, or on Twitter as jennIRL.

Your fellow booknerd,

Check Your Shelf

ALA Awards, a Poetry Pharmacy, and New E.L. James This Spring

Welcome to Check Your Shelf! This is your guide to help librarians like you up your game when it comes to doing your job (& rocking it).

“Check Your Shelf” is sponsored by Flatiron Books

At the Wolf’s Table is the internationally bestselling novel based on the untold true story of the women conscripted to be Hitler’s food tasters, from Rosella Postorino. Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa’s parents are gone, and her husband’s fighting in WWII. Impoverished and alone, she decides to leave war-torn Berlin for the countryside. But one morning, the SS come and say she’s been conscripted to be one of Hitler’s tasters: each day, she and nine other women go to his headquarters to eat his meals before he does. And as secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches a dramatic climax.

To any readers who live in the Midwest, I hope you survived the horrible polar vortex. I have spent the last several days hunkered down with a blanket, a stack of books, and my cats, and I’m looking forward to positive digit temperatures in the near future.

Libraries & Librarians

ALA Midwinter Recap

Book Adaptations in the News

Books & Authors in the News

By the Numbers

Award News

All Things Comics


Upcoming Books in 2019

Book Lists, Book Lists, Book Lists

Bookish Curiosities & Miscellaneous

Level Up (Library Reads)

Do you take part in LibraryReads, the monthly list of best books selected by librarians only? We’ve made it easy for you to find eligible diverse titles to nominate. Kelly Jensen created a database of upcoming diverse books that anyone can edit, and Nora Rawlins of Early Word is doing the same, as well as including information about series, vendors, and publisher buzz.


Thanks for hanging out and I’ll see you again next week!

–Katie McLain, @kt_librarylady on Twitter. Currently reading Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

The Kids Are All Right

Winners of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards

Hi Kid Lit Friends!

It was a big week for children’s literature last week, with awards and honors given to books published in 2018 by the American Library Association. So many of my favorites were recognized, and it thrilled my heart to see so much enthusiasm for children’s books!

In case you missed it or want to know more about any of the winning books, I’ve got you covered. See covers, descriptions, and buy links to all of the award winners below! Please note that I will only be listing the books for children, not teens. If you are interested in books for teens, sign up for Kelly Jensen’s wonderful Book Riot newsletter, What Up in YA?).

* Please note that all descriptions come from Goodreads.

Just for Book Riot readers: sign up for an Audible account, and get two audiobooks free!

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

Winner: Hello Lighthouse, illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall

Watch the days and seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and icebergs drift by. Outside, there is water all around. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp’s wick, and writes every detail in his logbook. Step back in time and through the door of this iconic lighthouse into a cozy dollhouse-like interior with the extraordinary award-winning artist Sophie Blackall.

Honor: Alma and How She Got Her Name, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell.

Honor: A Big Mooncake for Little Star, illustrated and written by Grace Lin

Pat, pat, pat… Little Star’s soft feet tiptoed to the Big Mooncake.

Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?

Honor: The Rough Patch, illustrated and written by Brian Lies

Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their award-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies. Heartbroken, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. The ground becomes overgrown with prickles and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos. But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his misery and back to the county fair, where friendships—old and new—await.

Honor: Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?


John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

Winner: Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.

* Check out my interview with the fabulous Meg Medina in this newsletter back in September when Merci Suarez Changes Gears came out!

Honor: The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.

Honor: The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked by others in his town—until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an action-packed and suspensful expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end—for what if St. Peter can make Boy’s hump go away?


Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Honor: Finding Langston, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome

It’s 1946. Langston’s mother has just died, and now they’re leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything– Grandma’s Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved. In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn’t feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he’s lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he’s bullied for being a country boy. But Langston’s new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston–a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him.

Honor: The Parker Inheritance, written by Varian Johnson

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

Honor: The Season of Styx Malone, written by Kekla Magoon

Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town. Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen and oozes cool. Styx promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade–exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. Styx has secrets–secrets so big they could ruin everything


Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

Winner: The Stuff of Stars,  illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Marion Dane Bauer

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies.

Honor: Hidden Figures, illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.

Honor: Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson

In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison’s emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.

Honor: Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan

In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.


Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award:

Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora (see description under Caldecott)


Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

Winner for Young Children: Rescue & Jessica A Life-Changing Friendship, written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon

Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog — it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. An endnote from the authors tells more about the training and extraordinary abilities of service dogs, particularly their real-life best friend and black lab, Rescue.

Honor: The Remember Balloons, written by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together. But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice! Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.

Winner for Middle Grades: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, written by Leslie Connor

Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day. Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground club space for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin, and eventually, Benny. But will anyone believe him?

Honor: The Collectors, written by Jacqueline West

Van has always been an outsider. Most people don’t notice him. But he notices them. And he notices the small trinkets they drop, or lose, or throw away—that’s why his collection is full of treasures. Then one day, Van notices a girl stealing pennies from a fountain, and everything changes. He follows the girl, Pebble, and uncovers an underground world full of wishes and the people who collect them. Apparently not all wishes are good and even good wishes often have unintended consequences—and the Collectors have made it their duty to protect us. But they aren’t the only ones who have their eyes on the world’s wishes—and they may not be the good guys, after all.


Pura Belpré Awards honoring a Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

Winner (Illustrator): Dreamers, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales

In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed. She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and five-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous new picture book Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it.

Honor (Illustrator): When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, illustrated by Jose Ramirez, written by Michael Mahin

Carlos Santana loved to listen to his father play el violín. It was a sound that filled the world with magic and love and feeling and healing—a sound that made angels real. Carlos wanted to make angels real, too. So he started playing music. Carlos tried el clarinete and el violín, but there were no angels. Then he picked up la guitarra. He took the soul of the Blues, the brains of Jazz, and the energy of Rock and Roll, and added the slow heat of Afro-Cuban drums and the cilantro-scented sway of the music he’d grown up with in Mexico. There were a lot of bands in San Francisco but none of them sounded like this. Had Carlos finally found the music that would make his angels real?

Honor (Author): They Call Me Guero: A Border Kid’s Poems written by David Bowles

Twelve-year-old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool. In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd–reader, gamer, musician–who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails.  But trusting in his family’s traditions, his accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart. Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope.


Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

Winner: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, written by Joyce Sidman

One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor–winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.

Honor: Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild, written by Catherine Thimmesh

Roughly a thousand years ago, an estimated 23,000 pandas roamed wild and free through their native China. But within the past forty years, more than fifty percent of the panda’s already shrinking habitat has been destroyed by humans, leaving the beautiful and beloved giant panda vulnerable to extinction. Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds—poaching, habitat destruction, pollution, human overpopulation, and global climate change—the panda is making a comeback. How? By humans teaching baby pandas how to be wild and stay wild.

Honor: Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America, written by Gail Jarrow and published by Calkins Creek

On the night of October 30, 1938, thousands of Americans panicked when they believed that Martians had invaded Earth. What appeared to be breaking news about an alien invasion was in fact a radio drama based on H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players. Some listeners became angry once they realized they had been tricked, and the reaction to the broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. In this compelling nonfiction chapter book, Gail Jarrow explores the production of the broadcast, the aftermath, and the concept of fake news in the media.

Honor: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

Honor: When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, written Michael Mahin, illustrated by Jose Ramirez (see description under Schneider Family Book Award)


Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:

Winner: Julian Is a Mermaid, written and illustrated by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?

Winner: Hurricane Child, written by Kheryn Callender

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Honor: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, written by Ashley Herring Blake

When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing. Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?


Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:

Winner: Fox the Tiger, written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor

In Fox the Tiger, this winning trickster character and his animal friends learn that the best thing to be is yourself. Fox the Tiger is a My First I Can Read book, which means it’s perfect for shared reading with a child. Other Fox books include: Fox Is Late, Fox and the Jumping Contest, and Fox and the Bike Ride.

Honor: The Adventures of Otto: See Pip Flap, written and illustrated by David Milgrim

See Tweet fly. Fly, Tweet, fly. Pip wants to fly too—flap, flap, flap! Can Otto help Pip find a way to soar in the sky?

This Pre-level 1 Ready-to-Read with bright illustrations and minimal text is perfect for the true emergent reader.

Honor: Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories, written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Fox and Chick don’t always agree. But Fox and Chick are always friends. With sly humor and companionable warmth, Sergio Ruzzier deftly captures the adventures of these two seemingly opposite friends. The luminous watercolor images showcased in comic-book panel form will entice emerging readers, while the spare text and airiness of the images make this early chapter book accessible to a picture book audience as well.

Honor: King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth, written by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

A lovable dog helps his human girl solve a mystery.
Kayla lost a tooth, but now it’s missing! What does Kayla know? ―Her tooth is not inside the tooth fairy pillow. It’s not inside her backpack. It’s not inside the car. What does King know? ―Mason’s hand smells like the tooth fairy pillow. How will they solve the mystery?

Honor: Tiger vs. Nightmare, written and illustrated by Emily Tetri

Tiger is a very lucky kid: she has a monster living under her bed. Every night, Tiger and Monster play games until it’s time for lights out. Of course, Monster would never try to scare Tiger―that’s not what best friends do. But Monster needs to scare someone…it’s a monster, after all. So while Tiger sleeps, Monster scares all of her nightmares away. Thanks to her friend, Tiger has nothing but good dreams. But waiting in the darkness is a nightmare so big and mean that Monster can’t fight it alone. Only teamwork and a lot of bravery can chase this nightmare away.


Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature promotes Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and is awarded based on literary and artistic merit.

Picture Book Winner: Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

Children’s Literature Winner: Front Desk, written by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?


The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

Younger Readers Winner: All-of-a-Kind-Family Hanukkah,” by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky

Fans, along with those just meeting the five girls (“all of a kind,” as their parents say), will join them back in 1912, on the Lower East Side of NYC, and watch as preparations for Hanukkah are made. When Gertie, the youngest, is not allowed to help prepare latkes, she throws a tantrum. Banished to the girls’ bedroom, she can still hear the sounds and smell the smells of a family getting ready to celebrate. But then Papa comes home and she is allowed out–and given the best job of all: lighting the first candle on the menorah.

Older Readers Winner: Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier

It’s been five years since the Sweep disappeared. Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow had no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days sweeping out chimneys. The job is dangerous and thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. When Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire, she fears the end has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from soot and ash.


Around the web…

When They Got the Call: PW Speaks with 2019 Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Winners, via Publisher’s Weekly

10 Picture Books About Anxiety For Children Who Worry, via Book Riot

10 Chinese New Year Books to Celebrate the Year of the Pig, via Book Riot


I would love to know what you are reading this week! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at

Until next time!

Ginger Pye likes it when I read to her:)

*If this e-mail was forwarded to you, follow this link to subscribe to “The Kids Are All Right” newsletter and other fabulous Book Riot newsletters for your own customized e-mail delivery. Thank you!*

Unusual Suspects

New Psychological Suspense Imprint

Hello mystery fans!

Sponsored by Doubleday, publishers of The Plotters

The Plotters cover imageTHE PLOTTERS is like if Wes Anderson wrote a thriller: an ensemble cast of eccentric characters come together to form a truly unique crime novel. Set in an alternate Seoul where assassins gather in a headquarters known as “The Library,” the story follows Reseng, a lifelong hitman whose every move is dictated by the anonymous Plotters. Then, one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job and finds himself embroiled in a deadly scheme that’s totally off-book. From the writer the Guardian calls “The Korean Henning Mankell”, THE PLOTTERS is a stylish and sarcastic thriller that will also appeal to literary readers.

From Book Riot And Around The Internet

Annotated Agatha Christie Bingo

20 Murder Mystery Book Series to Intrigue and Delight

Crime-Solving Cats And Cozy Mysteries Are A Publishing Juggernaut

Read the First 3 Chapters of Monday’s Not Coming

Read an excerpt of The Silent Patient, an unforgettable — and Hollywood-bound — new thriller

News And Adaptations

cover image: zoomed in image of mouth with red lipstick bitting bottom lipMuppets arms up: We’re even closer to getting to watch Meg Abbott’s Dare Me adaptation series now that Netflix and USA Network will be co-licensing. I am very much Veruca Salt, “I want it now.”

We’re getting a new crime imprint: Otto Penzler and Pegasus Books joined together to create Scarlet. The new imprint will focus on “Psychological suspense that features complex women.” I do wish this idea that by and about women can only be marketed to women would stop, and Steph Cha has a point.

True Crime

A brief history of every Black Dahlia adaptation (and some conspiracy theories)

A new generation of kids get to grow up with nightmares: Netflix Reboots True Crime & Paranormal Series ‘Unsolved Mysteries’

Amazon Closing $14M Deal For Scott Burns-Helmed Drama ‘The Report’

Netflix’s Ted Bundy documentary is almost everything that’s wrong with the true crime genre

Kindle Deals

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson is $1.99 and that is the most ridiculous price for this fantastic book so run to it! (Review) (TW domestic abuse/ child death/ pedophile/ rape/ suicidal thought mentioned)

And from my TBR here’s a nonfiction that sounds really good and is also only $1.99: American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury, Kevin Maurer

A Bit Of My Week In Reading

A Deadly Divide cover imageI started A Deadly Divide (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #5) by Ausma Zehanat Khan, which is one of my favorite series; it has an intense beginning and I can’t put it down!

My audiobooks right now are The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (A missing ex-husband and alternating stories between his ex-wife and a woman raising a young daughter to help her con and steal) and Find Me Gone by Sarah Meuleman (a past and present mystery with a young woman who has just upended her life and her childhood in Belgium when there was a serial killer).

the bride testAnd my mystery break is Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test. I have already hugged it and laughed a bunch, so clearly it’s going to be another perfect book from her.

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And here’s an Unusual Suspects Pinterest board.

Until next time, keep investigating! And in the meantime, come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy–you can find me under Jamie Canavés.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own you can sign up here.

True Story

HEAVY Wins A Carnegie, Nonfic Coming to Netflix, And More

Welcome to February, fellow nonfiction nerds! As I’m typing this, I’m smack in the middle of the polar vortex, which means the temperature and wind chill where I live in Minnesota was so cold even the U.S. Postal Service suspended deliveries. It’s pretty awful, and I’m being kind of a grump about the whole thing.

What does that have to do with nonfiction? Not very much, but it’s about all I can think about right now as I cuddle up in my warmest sweatpants, shawl, and slippers while I hope my space heater is ready to work. But what you really want is some nonfiction news, so let’s get going.

Sponsored by Flatiron Books

At the Wolf’s Table is the internationally bestselling novel based on the untold true story of the women conscripted to be Hitler’s food tasters, from Rosella Postorino. Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa’s parents are gone, and her husband’s fighting in WWII. Impoverished and alone, she decides to leave war-torn Berlin for the countryside. But one morning, the SS come and say she’s been conscripted to be one of Hitler’s tasters: each day, she and nine other women go to his headquarters to eat his meals before he does. And as secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches a dramatic climax.

Kiese Laymon’s memoir, Heavy, is this year’s winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in nonfiction. In the memoir, “Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.”

Two people you know – and one person you ought to know – have signed deals to publish political (or politics-adjacent) memoirs in the next year or so. The two you know… Jim Acosta, CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent, has a book about covering the Trump administration coming out June 11 titled The Enemy of the People. Bill Clinton is set to release a new book about his post-presidential life (no news on the title or contents yet).

And then the one you might not, and that I’m most excited about! Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has sold her debut memoir, This is What America Looks Like. Omar is a Somali refugee who now represents Minnesota’s 5th congressional district in the House. She represents a ton of firsts – first Muslim refugee in Congress, first woman of color to represent Minnesota, and the first person to wear a hijab in Congress. The book is set to publish in April 2020.

Another best-selling nonfiction book will be coming to Netflix. The company paid $45 million and tapped director Ron Howard to direct and produce an adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir about growing up in a working class Appalachian family. There’s no news on casting yet, but given how much cultural conversation there has been around this book, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some big names in contention.

Still as obsessed with Marie Kondo as I am? Bustle recommends 15 books like Tidying Up With Marie Kondo that can “help you get yourself and your household back on track.” Excuse me while I go add all of these to my TBR list.

And that’s it for this week. You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, on email at, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. Stay warm and safe, friends who are still in the middle of this cold snap. Happy reading! – Kim

Riot Rundown TestRiotRundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by Doubleday, publishers of The Plotters.

THE PLOTTERS is like if Wes Anderson wrote a thriller: a ensemble cast of eccentric characters come together to form a truly unique crime novel. Set in an alternate Seoul where assassins gather in a headquarters known as “The Library,” the story follows Reseng, a lifelong hitman whose every move is dictated by the anonymous Plotters. Then, one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job and finds himself embroiled in a deadly scheme that’s totally off-book. From the writer the Guardian calls “The Korean Henning Mankell”, THE PLOTTERS is a stylish and sarcastic thriller that will also appeal to literary readers.

Book Radar

Megan Abbott’s DARE ME Is Headed To Netflix and More Book Radar!

Hello and happy almost-Friday! Besides the fact that the planet is trying to freeze the middle of the country out of existence, it’s been a pretty good week. (Hang in there!) There are lots of great new books to read, which is always exciting! Please enjoy the rest of your week, be kind to yourself as well as others, and remember that life is hard – you are doing a great job! – xoxo, Liberty

Sponsored by Amazon Publishing

When the granddaughter of one of Florida’s most powerful judges disappears, it triggers a personal trauma for a detective. Brianna Labuskes returns with Girls of Glass the thrilling follow-up to Amazon Charts bestseller It Ends With Her.

Trivia question time! “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” This is the first line of what book? (Scroll to the bottom for the answer.)

Deals, Reals, and Squeals!

cover image: zoomed in image of mouth with red lipstick bitting bottom lipMegan Abbott’s Dare Me is headed to Netflix!

Oscar Issac is in talks to join the cast of Dune – as Timothée Chalamet’s dad. Zendaya is also considering joining.

Erika L. Sánchez announced a new book.

More actors have been announced for HBO’s Series adaptation of The Outsiders by Stephen King.

Gillian Flynn’s new female-led drama series has found a home at Amazon.

There’s going to be a Throne of Glass card game.

Elizabeth Banks will direct the adaptation Kim Liggett’s upcoming novel The Grace Year.

Cover Reveals

Book Riot has the first peek at Unraveling by Karen Lord. (DAW, June 4)

Former Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth revealed the cover of her new book More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say). (Viking, June 11)

Book Riot Recommends 

At Book Riot, I work on the New Books! email, the All the Books! podcast about new releases, and the Book Riot Insiders New Release Index. I am very fortunate to get to read a lot of upcoming titles, and learn about a lot of upcoming titles, and I’m delighted to share a couple with you each week so you can add them to your TBR! (It will now be books I loved on Mondays and books I’m excited to read on Thursdays. YAY, BOOKS!)

Excited to read:

rule of captureRule of Capture by Christopher Brown (Harper Voyager, August 13)

I loved, loved, loved his last novel, Tropic of Kansas, and this one sounds like another “America is a hot mess” dystopia. It’s the first in a legal thriller series, being pitched as “Better Call Saul meets Nineteen Eighty-Four.” I am dying to get my hands on it!

What I’m reading this week.

york- the clockwork ghostYork: The Clockwork Ghost by Laura Ruby

The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay

Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr

And this is funny.

This guy wins the internet this week.

Trivia answer: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

You made it to the bottom! High five. Thanks for reading! – xo, L

Kissing Books

E L James and Books You Can Read Sooner Than April

January is almost over! How is that possible? By now, I was supposed to be lounging about making bad decisions about rearranging my bookshelves on whatever they give you after they yank out your wisdom teeth. But they moved my appointment so I’m just doing the usual working thing. Ah well. Books are still in my future.

So. Many. Books.

Sponsored by 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, published by William Morrow.

cover of 99 percent mine by sally thorneFrom the author of The Hating Game comes a new romantic comedy about two twins struggling over an inheritance, and the sexy best friend who gets in the middle. Darcy Barrett met her dream man when she was eight years old, and the rest of the male population has been a letdown ever since. No one measures up to Tom Valeska whose only flaw is that her twin brother, Jamie, saw him first, and claimed him forever as his best friend. Tom’s off limits and loyal to Jamie 99%, and for Darcy, one percent of him used to be enough. But this time around, she’s switching things up…

Over on Book Riot

cover of The Mister by E L JamesSo on Monday I somehow forgot the big news. I broke the damn thing myself for Book Riot. and I forgot. Well, if you didn’t already know, now you do: E L James is releasing a new book, and it’s not about the Grey family. It’s called The Mister, and at least since it’s set in England, I won’t throw the book at Britishisms like “Laters, Baby.” (Though if that phrase is spoken by Maxim Trevelyan—yes, that is The Mister’s name—I don’t know what I will do.)

And of course, because we can’t leave a new E L James book alone, Trisha has a few burning questions about this book. I’m sure we all do.

Speaking of Trisha, we celebrated When In Romance’s Podiversary this week! It’s officially been a year and what a year to start! It looks like the WTFery that is Romancelandia won’t be waning anytime soon, so we’ll have plenty to talk about in the year to come. This time? More people who don’t understand romance.

Are you doing the Read Harder challenge? There are some romances in this list of recommended books with 100 or fewer goodreads reviews. And I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t read any of them (so I know what I’m doing soon.)

Look, I’m not saying all romance lovers read Harry Potter fanfiction, but I bet there are plenty of us who appreciate Namera’s effort in pulling together this amazing list. (Also, The Green Girl is one of those I still randomly think about years later. FYI.) (Also Number Two, I might have also written one of these a couple years ago that doesn’t have many of the same picks.)

Finally, if you’re ready to KonMari your whole living space and want to move to book subscription services instead, here are a few to try.


Cover of Mixtape AnthologyTwelve stories. Over 500 pages. All inspired by music. Check out stories by Xio Axelrod, Sierra Simone, Nikki Sloane. And nine more, obviously. Regardless of what the cover might indicate, the stories aren’t all about musicians. Actually, there are no musicians in the descriptions at all! But these are totally promising stories, and bound to be good examples of those novellas Trisha and I were talking about on Monday. You probably want the link huh? Well it’s Mixtape and it’s 99 cents!

It’s been three weeks. Have you bought Once Ghosted, Twice Shy yet? It’s still 1.99, and it’s still amazing. Likotsi and Fabiola are wonderful and amazing, and everybody just makes feelings happen. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Cover of Full Contact by Andie J. ChristopherSo uh…did we know Andie J. Christopher had written a hockey romance? It’s wildly cold in some parts of the country so it sounded like a good time to read about some hockey goodness. It’s called Full Contact and it’s got a virgin hero (with a bounty on his virginity WHAT) and a heroine who just wants to get out of town, six-four hunk of Viking-sex or no. It’s 2.99 right now, so you should definitely check it out.

New Releases!

Let’s talk new books! I am excited to read all of these!

cover of Any Old Diamonds by KJ CharlesAny Old Diamonds
KJ Charles

What does the younger son of a duke do when he can’t stand his father or his wealth? Plans to have the diamonds he’s bought for his duchess stolen, of course. What else? His new compatriot must pretend to be his BFF, though, and that makes things…complicated. KJ Charles does her thing yet again, and it’s just as delightful (and feels-y, because that’s how she works) as everything else she’s put out.

cover of catastrophe queen by emma hartCatastrophe Queen
Emma Hart

Mallory has a new job. This means she has a new boss. Her boss is hot. He knows it; she knows it. They both know they have to deal with their mutual attraction some kind of way, because Mallory needs her job. I’ll tell you—I have been on a trash people kick. Protagonists who are far from together who spend their books not just falling in love but figuring their own thing out are just the best thing. (Note: have you read Intercepted? I think you need to read Intercepted.)

Want more? Check these out, too.

cover of crazy cupid loveCrazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger

Three Little Words by Jenny Holiday

See The Light by Kate McMurray

As usual, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!